Terps win two in a Rowe

By on September 20, 2015

(courtesy of USF Athletics)

College Park, Md. — The Maryland Terrapins have beat the USF Bulls now two years in a row.  Last year 24-17 on September 6th in Tampa and again yesterday in College Park, Maryland.

USF’s defense hauled in three interceptions and jumped out front early, but the Bulls were unable to grab their first Big Ten victory Saturday at Maryland.

Caleb Rowe threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns, and the Terps totaled 411 yards of offense in a 35-17 win over the Bulls at Byrd Stadium.

Maryland QB, Caleb Rowe (photo USA TODAY Sports / Mitch Stringer)

Maryland QB, Caleb Rowe (photo USA TODAY Sports / Mitch Stringer)

USF (1-2) got interceptions the first career interceptions from sophomores Devin Abraham and Deatrick Nichols and another from Jamie Byrd to mark the team’s most in a game since 2011. However, the Bulls failed to make plays that were available as USF passers combined to go 10-for-22 for 60 yards with several dropped passes. The Bulls also were penalized 10 times for 105 yards on the day.

“We gave up too many big plays on defense and on offense, when we had an opportunity to make a big play, we dropped the ball or had a penalty. I thought there were too many penalties that brought back some touchdowns for us,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “We just played sloppy football, undisciplined football – totally unexpected of our football team.”

Starting QB Quinton Flowers’ touchdown run helped cut USF’s deficit to 28-17 late in the third quarter before Maryland (2-1) forced its second turnover on a ball that went through a receivers hands and sealed the game with Rowe’s fourth TD pass.

USF totaled 240 yards on the ground and Flowers led all rushers with career highs of 85 yards on 24 attempts. Sophomore Marlon Mack (Sarasota) gained 71 yards on 12 carries and junior Darius Tice (Miami) added 42 yards on six attempts.

“We’ve just got a football team that’s gotta learn how to win,” Taggart said. “You can’t make those mistakes that we made if you’re trying to win those games.”

In its first-ever trip at College Park, USF started the game with a huge play by the defense. Abraham (Tarpon Springs) intercepted a pass on the third play of Maryland’s opening drive and returned it 42 yards to the Terps’ 4-yard line. Abraham’s first-career interception set the Bulls up for a quick score.

“I was just in the right spot at the right time and made a play,” Abraham said.

One play later, Flowers connected with Rodney Adams for a 4-yard touchdown with 12:40 remaining in the opening quarter.  Adams, a junior from St. Petersburg, now has three career TD grabs after totaling two in his debut season with the Bulls in 2014.

Maryland responded on its second drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass by Rowe to Kenneth Goins with 8:44 left in the first quarter. Rowe helped the Terps take a 14-7 lead on the final play of the first quarter, when he threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Taivon Jacobs on third and long.

Despite the Maryland scores, the “Bull Sharks” stuck with it and pressure by the defensive line led to another turnover about 5 minutes into the second quarter.

Nichols (Miami) made his first-career interception on a deep pass attempt in USF territory and returned it to the Bulls’ 28-yard line. USF got 15 more yards on the play due to a penalty on Maryland backup running back Wes Brown, who was disqualified for targeting.

USF was unable to capitalize on the turnover after having a great chance at another score. Flowers’ on-target deep pass sailed through the hands of Adams as he was running into the end zone on third down.

USF chipped away at the deficit on its final full drive of the half thanks to a 34-yard field goal by Emilio Nadelman (Miami) with 59 seconds remaining. The Bulls converted two of their three third-down attempts on the 12-play, 64-yard drive that was highlighted by a 28-yard catch by D’Ernest Johnson (Immokalee) on a third-and-7 at the USF 23.

Maryland extended its lead to 21-10 before halftime with a 4-yard touchdown run by Brandon Ross 10 seconds before the break. The score was set up by a 49-yard pass by Rowe, who completed 12 of 20 attempts for 225 yards in the opening half. Maryland outgained USF, 317-133, in the first two quarters.

Rowe remained hot after the break and helped extend Maryland’s lead to 28-10 with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Avery Edwards less than 2 minutes into the action.

Maryland kept up its aggressive approach midway through the third quarter and it led to another takeaway by the Bulls. Lined up at the USF 31, Rowe’s pass was intercepted Byrd, who returned it 13 yards. The senior from Dade City has three interceptions as a Bull after tying for the team lead with two last season.

“We pride ourselves on taking the ball away and I got a chance to get a pick in Byrd Stadium, that’s a coincidence,” Byrd said.

USF followed up Byrd’s pick with a 17-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ended with a clutch play by Flowers. Facing a fourth-and-goal, the dual-threat QB surveyed the coverage and dove into the end zone on a 7-yard run with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Flowers’ heads-up play capped off a drive that took 6:55 off the clock and it marked the sophomore’s second TD run of the season. Flowers posted his first-career scoring run from 29 yards out in the season opener against FAMU.

USF forced a three-and-out after Flowers’ touchdown run and Taggart inserted backup Steven Bench in an attempt to get the passing attack going. Bench (Bainbridge, Ga.) started with a 17-yard run and a 23-yard pass to Adams, but that play was called back after a personal foul on the Bulls. Benches third pass went through a receivers hands and was intercepted at midfield by Sean Davis, who returned it to the Bulls’ 17-yard line.

Maryland extended its lead to 35-17 with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rowe to Edwards with 10:06 remaining.

“All week, coach (Tom) Allen preached to us that this kid could throw the ball. He could come out here and light it up,” Abraham said. “We had a couple mistakes and that’s exactly what he did; he took advantage of them.”

Flowers was back in on USF’s next drive and the sophomore from Miami finished 10-for-19 for 60 yards with an interception in the fourth start of his career. Johnson led the Bulls with 27 receiving yards on two catches.

Defensively, Byrd tied for the team high with nine tackles (five solo). Sophomore defensive tackle Deadrin Senat (Immokalee) posted a career-high  in tackles for the second straight week, this time logging nine (seven solo)  after posting eight at Florida State.

The Bulls have a bye week to rest up for their conference opener against Memphis on Friday, Oct. 2 at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Reserve your seats for USF-Memphis at USFBullsTix.com.

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