Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
Trainers guided the starting quarterback to the sideline. A kicker, who already had missed twice, prepared for another chance. A freshman lined up in the shotgun.
Central Florida had already fumbled away its possession in double overtime. A field goal would put them away, but Tyrrell Pigrome had bigger plans.
Just as abruptly as the Maryland freshman quarterback entered the game, so too did he end it. On his first play of the night, Pigrome sliced a winding trail across 24 yards of turf and streaked away with the game-ending touchdown.
“Pigrome has ice in his veins,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “There’s nothing big about the moment for him. He stood in the huddle and said, ‘OK, what do we have here? Let’s run it.’ I’m sitting there talking about ball security and he’s probably looking at me like, ‘Don’t worry about that, because I’m going to score.’ Then, he just went and did it.”
The Terrapins would have settled for an escape from the UCF Knights, the gutsy underdogs who rarely met a fourth down conversion they didn’t want to attempt. Instead, Maryland celebrated a compelling finish and a 30-24 win.
UCF made it clear they weren’t intimidated by their power conference opponent. They kept the offense on the field twice in the first quarter to convert on fourth and short to set the tone. Even in a tie game with a fourth-and-1 from his own 10 yard line, coach Scott Frost gave the green light and allowed his team to validate his courage with a conversion.
While the Knights outgained the Terps 455 yards to 373 yards in total offense, they also suffered from some sloppy moments from their true freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton. Along with an interception, the Hawaii native fumbled six times and lost three of them, including once on UCF’s drive in double-overtime.
Facing pressure from linebacker Jalen Brooks and defensive tackle Kingsley Opara, Milton tried to throw the ball away. The desperate throw was ruled a backward pass, making it a fumble, and Opara fell on the loose ball, giving the Terrapins their fourth takeaway.
On the following drive, with the Terps looking to put an end to the game, quarterback Perry Hills carried the ball himself, but was driven to the ground and landed hard on his shoulder. It ended a difficult night for the senior, who completed 10 of 23 passes for 127 yards. He ran for 29 yards on 16 carries, with a touchdown that gave Maryland the lead in the first overtime.
Milton answered Hills’ touchdown in the first overtime with a dramatic bomb to Tre’Quan Smith on 3rd-and-16 from the 31. It was Milton’s second touchdown through the air and third overall and it gave Smith 114 receiving yards.
Despite several three-and-outs, Maryland kept itself in the game with its running attack. The team picked up 246 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries. Freshman Lorenzo Harrison continued to impress by leading Maryland in rushing yards for the second time in three games, going for 77 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown.
Kicker Adam Greene, after making a 33-yarder, missed a pair of field goals: a 38-yarder from the left side that clanked off the left upright and one from 51 yards. Durkin seemed to accept blame for the final miss, mouthing “that’s on me” as the team left the field.
Shane Cockerille and Will Likely accumulated 14 tackles apiece for Maryland, and sophomore cornerback JC Jackson came away with his first career interception. UCF defensive end Tony Guerad led the game with two sacks, as UCF came away with five total sacks and Maryland recorded three.
Maryland improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2013, and their three wins match their total production from last season.
Along with Hills, Likely, defensive end Roman Braglio and defensive back Denzel Conyers all needed attention on-field attention from the medical staff. After relishing the win, Maryland must turn its focus to preparing for Purdue in two weeks.
“You want to win every game,” Likely said. “Going 3-0, that’s pretty good. We have a bye week so we can get healthy and get ready for the next team.”
Edited by Austin Kleber.