Having not won a road game in over two years, the Terrapins would take a victory any way they could get it entering Saturday’s meeting with Boston College in Chestnut Hill.
The Terps certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, squandering a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter and needing a fourth-down stop of Boston College running back Montel Harris with 1:13 remaining to preserve a 24-21 victory, snapping a 10-game road losing streak. Maryland (5-2, 2-1 ACC) used an opportunistic 21-point first half and a patchwork offensive line to do just enough against a Boston College team that has now lost five straight games.
A pair of unlikely heroes were the difference as safety Antwine Perez secured three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble recovery — that led to 14 points for a Maryland offense that managed just 222 yards for the afternoon.
The other story was center Paul Pinegar shifting to right tackle — due to the horrific accident suffered by starter Pete DeSouza late Thursday night — and helping stabilize an already porous offensive line. The unit protected quarterback Danny O’Brien against a stout Eagles defense, allowing the redshirt freshman to toss three touchdown passes to three different receivers in the first half.
The unsettling fourth quarter in which the Maryland defense allowed two touchdown runs by Harris would not spoil what coach Ralph Friedgen labeled a “character” win for the Terps, who had not won a road game since Sept. 27, 2008 when they beat Clemson 20-17 in Death Valley.
Offensively, the Terps struggled to move the ball with any consistency, rushing for just 40 yards on 32 attempts, but managed to play turnover-free, something they failed to do in last week’s loss at Clemson and for much of last season’s disastrous 2-10 campaign. O’Brien made throws when he needed to, accumulating 182 yards through the air on 40 attempts, and rebounded from his three-interception performance in Death Valley.
Whether Maryland is really that much improved from a year ago is debatable — a soft schedule has unquestionably helped the cause — but the Terps suddenly find themselves only a victory away from becoming bowl-eligible with a favorable matchup against Wake Forest in College Park next Saturday.
The program is still worlds away from where it needs to be with the unsettling future of Friedgen and offensive coordinator — and coach-in-waiting — James Franklin yet to be determined by new athletic director Kevin Anderson.
But at 5-2, the Terps have fared better than most expected they would to this point, and the play of the freshman quarterback O’Brien merits optimism for the future, if enough pieces can be recruited to protect him upfront.
Saturday’s performance wasn’t pretty, but a “character” win at Boston College is sure better than the alternative.
Check out the final box score right here.