COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Junior running back Bernard Pierce rushed for a school and Mid-American Conference tying-record five touchdowns in a 38-7 upset over the Maryland Terripans today at Capital One Field. The game marked Temple’s first win against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Just about three minutes into the game, after the Terps went three and out on their first drive, Pierce made his first trip into the end zone on a one-yard rush. A 54-yard reception by senior tight end Evan Rodriguez set up the score that initiated the Owls’ highest-scoring first quarter of the season.
The Owls’ offense kept the ball moving in the first half by converting on third downs going 6 of 8 compared to Maryland’s offense, which went 2 of 8. The Cherry and White (3-1, 1-0 MAC) also took advantage of its three scoring chances in the red zone, as the offense scored each time, while the Terps (1-2, 1-0 ACC) went 0-1.
“There is no need to sugarcoat things, we got our butts kicked today,” Maryland’s coach Randy Edsall said. “I guess I didn’t get my message across this week about how physical it was going to be. I have to do a better job of letting them know exactly what they are going to be up against. To me there was no life and energy out there.”
Defensively, Temple stifled a Maryland offense that entered the game averaging 488 yards of total offense, which ranked 17th nationally. Senior linebacker Stephen Johnson led the defense that held the Terps to 240 total offensive yards with a career high of 11 tackles.
“We gave some plays up, but then we kept playing, Temple’s defensive coordinator Chuck Heater said. “It was a tribute really to the [players], they executed really at a high level. We played hard and we tackled well.”
At a press conference on Sept. 20, coach Randy Edsall said that he predicted a “tremendous challenge” for his team.
“I know these guys because I have played them before,” said Edsall referring of last season when he was the coach at Connecticut. The Owls won that Sept. 18 matchup by a score of 30-16.
“They are going to be physical, they are going to run the ball, they are going to do some play action passes and they use two quarterbacks,” Edsall added.
In the Owls’ last two games, coach Steve Addazio did use two quarterbacks, but against the Terps redshirt-senior quarterback Chester Steward played all four quarters. Stewart completed all nine of his pass attempts in the game for a total of 140 yards.
On the ground, Pierce racked up four rushing touchdowns in the first half on 20 carries for a total of 108 rushing yards. His longest score came in the second quarter when he broke away through a hole in the middle of the Terps’ defense and ran 44 yards to the end zone.
“It’s always good to have [Pierce]. He takes a lot of pressure off me,” Stewart said, who started his first game of the season. “First off, you hand him the ball and then sit there and watch him go off. A lot of times I’m impressed by some of the moves he makes to get open.”
At halftime the score was 31-0 in favor of the Owls and Maryland (1-2) found itself down by double digits for the second consecutive time this season. Last weekend, No. 18 West Virginia got off to a 27-10 lead at halftime and the Terps could not overcome the deficit, falling 37-31.
After a scoreless third quarter for both teams, Pierce added his fifth touchdown of the game, a rush from 13 yards out. The score allowed Pierce to move up in program history, as he is now second in total points scored (230) and one point away from tying Paul Palmer (1983-86) for the most rushing touchdowns.
“I think I did good; still looking for improvement,” Pierce said. “I can never be the best, I can never be great. There’s always room for improvement.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.