Maryland dismantles Howard in a lopsided 79-0 season-opener win

The Michael Locksley era could not have gotten off to a better start for the Maryland Terrapins as they defeated the visiting Howard Bison 79-0 Saturday afternoon.

Hired in December, Locksley returned to Maryland for the third time over the past 20 seasons to become the head coach of the Terps after spending his previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Alabama where he was a part of their National Championship run in 2017.

Maryland’s new starting quarterback also made his debut Saturday. Junior quarterback Josh Jackson transferred to College Park this season after spending his past two years as the starting quarterback for Virginia Tech. His season last year was cut short after he fractured his left fibula against Old Dominion. The NCAA granted Jackson immediate eligibility so he could play this season.

Jackson said he was just happy that he could finally get back on the field and help his team compete.

“I was glad that we could go out there and get a victory in our first game,” Jackson said. “Scoring 79 points is awesome and it felt good to get back out there.”

The Terps controlled the game from the very first whistle on Saturday. It took only two drives for Jackson to get the offense rolling. He connected with sophomore wide receiver Dontay Demus for a 26-yard touchdown at the 11:06 mark of the first quarter. 

After the game, Demus mentioned how his chemistry with Jackson has grown since spring camp and how it has the potential to be even more dangerous as the season progresses.

“We got a feel for each other early on,” Demus said. “Whether it’s a deep or short ball, our connection is great. I knew it was going to happen early with the love that we have between each other.”

Sophomore running back Anthony McFarland rushed for a two-yard touchdown shortly after at the 6:43 mark, and sophomore tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo caught a six-yard touchdown pass the following possesiom to put Maryland up 21-0. McFarland closed the first quarter with another short rushing touchdown to put them up 28-0 after one. 

The Terps’ 28 points scored became the most the team had since 2002 against West Virginia. Even with a four-score lead, Maryland never took their foot off the gas. 

Jackson threw for two more touchdowns before fellow junior quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome checked in at the 12:19 mark of the second quarter to relieve him. 

Jackson was not the only quarterback to shine on Saturday as Pigrome connected on a 62-yard bomb down the left sideline to Demus on his second drive of the game.

While their offense was impressive, the Terps’ defense and special teams were just as dominant throughout the whole game. Senior wide receiver DJ Turner returned a punt 40 yards for a touchdown at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter and had the fans in Capital One Field on their feet. 

Maryland’s defense suffocated Howard as they held them to only 15 total yards, one first down and zero points in the first half. The Bison’s quarterback Caylin Newton, the younger brother of former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton, could not operate anywhere and had almost no chance to even attempt a pass as the Terps’ pass rush quickly made its way to the opposing backfield on each snap. They finished the game with seven sacks.

Jackson came back in before the half ended and threw one more touchdown to graduate transfer tight end Tyler Mabry at the 1:30 mark to solidify a 56-0 lead going into halftime. Their 56 points are the most scored in the first half of a game by a Big Ten team since Penn State scored the same amount against Illinois in 2005.

“Josh showed some of what we saw in camp,” Locksley said of his starting quarterback’s performance. “He’s really consistent and he understands football. I was pleased with how he started.”

Maryland scored three more times throughout the third and fourth quarter as they cleared the bench in the second half. Players further down the depth chart were able to rotate in at some point.

“The best thing that comes out of a game like this is that we have an opportunity to develop our team as a whole by being able to play some really young players,” Locksley said.

The Terps defense continued their dominance in the second half as they forced a Howard fumble and later a safety resulting from a blocked punt. They allowed only four first downs throughout the game.

Jackson finished the game throwing for 245 yards and four touchdowns in a seemingly flawless debut for Maryland. Demus finished with 100 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions. The Terps had 623 total yards to go along with zero turnovers.

Maryland will host No. 22 Syracuse on Sept. 9 at Capital One Field at noon.