A defensive struggle through the first three quarters turned into a down-to-the wire finish between UConn and Maryland in the "Edsall Bowl" on Saturday afternoon.
In the end, the Huskies defense proved to be too much for the young Maryland offense, and they held on to beat former coach Randy Edsall 24-21 in College Park. UConn linebackers Sio Moore and Yawin Smallwood wreaked havoc all day long, but Maryland quarterback Perry Hills made some big fourth-quarter plays to help give his team a shot at the win.
After getting the ball back with 3:29 left, Hills made a few nice passes, including a third-down conversion to Stefon Diggs to keep the drive alive. But a third-and-13 at the UConn 35 resulted in a loss of 4 yards, and then Hills threw incomplete in the end zone to end the game.
Hills continued to mature, but he also had his share of mistakes. Maryland had two turnovers -- all to Hills (one interception, one fumble). He finished 10-of -24 for 109 yards, after going 2-of-11 for 24 yards in the first half. What really kept Maryland in the game were some big plays from Diggs, who had 223 all-purpose yards as a receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner. His 29-yard touchdown catch was pretty terrific, considering it was tipped by a teammate and into his hands.
For the third straight game, the UConn offense was completely ineffective. The Huskies got a huge lift from their special teams, as Nick Williams returned a punt 58 yards to start the scoring. But it almost seemed as if the Huskies had no confidence in Chandler Whitmer or their pass game. Whitmer went 10-of-16 with no touchdowns and no interceptions. With a chance to ice the game late, he threw a terrible pass incomplete that gave the Terps their final shot at the win.
UConn finished with 223 total yards -- and won. It can thank its defense. Despite some ragged play in the fourth quarter, that unit stepped up when it needed to, and came up with the big plays on the final Maryland drive.