Maryland football quarterback Kasim Hill looked left but never saw Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley.
Late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Hill delivered the first interception of his Terps career into the hands of Bradley and watched as he ran 78 yards to the opposite end zone. After its offense floundered all game, Maryland’s last push back into its home opener imploded.
There were moments the Terps looked as if they could overcome a horrendous first half in which they ran for just eight yards, but at crucial moments Maryland’s futility showed through.
Against a winless Temple team who had lost to FCS Villanova earlier this season, Maryland flopped Saturday. Interim head coach Matt Canada’s offense was entirely ineffective, relying on defensive and special teams scores to make the contest appear as if it was any contest at all. The Terps lost, 35-14, upending what had been a promising start to the year.
“Everything we did was bad,” Canada said. “I called every play, so I should’ve called a whole bunch of different ones cause they didn’t work. Ultimately, that’s it. I did a bad job.”
While Maryland’s offense did no favors for the team, its defense also faltered at key points to allow Temple to build a 14-point halftime edge.
After defensive back Darnell Savage intercepted Owls’ backup quarterback Anthony Russo and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to cut the Terps deficit to 14-7, Temple (1-2) used a big play on the next drive to help deflate that energy.
The Terps (2-1) needed a stop on third-and-9 when running back Ryquell Armstead took the handoff and ran right, jogging as he waited for a hole to open. Once he found one, Armstead knifed upfield and dashed for a 25-yard carry to set up a last-second touchdown that re-established Temple’s 14-point edge at the break.
“It was in a critical point of the game,” Savage said. “They were doing a lot of side-to-side, horizontal things, and [Armstead] saw the seam and he hit it.”
Earlier in the quarter, a third-and-16 for Temple turned into a 40-yard catch-and-run that propelled the Owls to their 14-0 lead.
Unlike last week, when Maryland trailed Bowling Green at halftime despite dominating the Falcons in the first half and then ran away in the last 20 minutes, there was no solace to be taken from the Terps’ first half against the Owls. Maryland managed just eight yards on the ground and two first downs before halftime.
“It falls directly on me,” Canada said. “It’s my job, and we didn’t get it done.”
Midway through the second quarter, Hill threw wide receiver DJ Turner open with a back-shoulder ball good for 27 yards and a first down. But three plays later, on third-and-short, Hill severely underthrew tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo. As punter Wade Lees jogged out to punt from midfield, some boos rang down from Maryland Stadium.
Temple’s special teams also scored Saturday. Third-string quarterback Todd Centeio received a direct snap in the backfield on a fake punt, rolled out right and threw a 36-yard touchdown to wide receiver Freddie Johnson to form a 7-0 lead.
“It’s a team effort, all the way around,” defensive lineman Jesse Aniebonam said. “We just have to focus in on our keys, focus in on our responsibilities, and everyone just has to win their one-on-one. That’s the most important thing, and we struggled with it in the past and we struggled with it today.”
The Owls handed off to defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd for their second score before Savage’s pick-six gave a momentary surge of life into Maryland’s sideline. Russo, though, opened the second half with a 47-yard touchdown on a blown coverage. Filling in for redshirt senior Frank Nutile, Russo completed 15-25 passes for 228 yards, the interception his lone blemish.
Maryland’s offense, meanwhile, converted third downs at a 8.3 percent rate and had two yards in the third quarter. Pigrome and Hill combined for eight completions, 63 yards and two picks as the Terps rolled over at home for their first loss of the season.
During postgame interviews, Canada jumped in on a question directed to Savage and Aniebonam, asking if Saturday’s drubbing shows the importance of top effort for a full 60 minutes.
“I’ll answer that for them,” Canada said. “They played hard. We didn’t play good enough on offense, and that’s on me.”