BOISE, Idaho - Ralph Friedgen’s initial reaction was to put Da’Rel Scott and the six other Maryland players who broke curfew leading up to the Humanitarian Bowl on a bus with a one-way ticket back to College Park, Md.
Instead of being run out of town, Scott stuck around and ran over Nevada.
Benched for 2½ quarters for his curfew violation, an inspired Scott became an unstoppable running force for the final 20 minutes. He carried 14 times for 174 yards and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns as Maryland held off the Wolf Pack 42-35 on Tuesday.
“I just felt as though I had to run with a purpose,” Scott said.
And run Scott did, blowing through a worn down Nevada defense in the final quarter. He sprinted 49 yards nearly untouched to snap a 28-all tie early in the fourth, then added a 2-yard TD gallop to put the Terps up 14 points with 7:44 left.
But until he got his first carry midway through the third quarter, doubt lingered in Scott’s mind as to if his transgression would keep him off the field. He was one of seven Terps caught by Friedgen, who declined to specify what the players did, but indicated the players had sneaked out a couple of nights before the game.
“Five percent of guys thought they didn’t need to listen to me, that they could get bed checked and sneak out,” Friedgen said. “This isn’t my first rodeo.”
Scott’s first carry came with 5:55 left in the third quarter and Maryland needed all of his 174 yards to hold off quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Nevada’s potent “pistol” offense. Kaepernick, who played the second half with a sprained right ankle, misfired in the first half, but found his throwing rhythm after briefly being benched in the third quarter.
Kaepernick finished 24-for-47 for a bowl-record 370 yards and three touchdowns, and added a 15-yard scoring run with 2:19 left. But Maryland recovered the onside kick and walked away with its fourth bowl victory since 2002.
“I was proud of the way we stepped up and got back into it, but we came up short,” Kaepernick said.
Scott was one of four starters to become statues on the Maryland sideline as Friedgen handed down his punishment. Scott initially starting stretching and running after the first quarter ended believing he’d get a shot in the second. The warmup was for naught as he and starting wide receiver Danny Oquendo continued to watch until the second half began.
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His first run was for 14 yards and he went for 11 on the next play. His 49-yard touchdown dash with 12:21 left put Maryland up 35-28 and vaulted Scott over 1,000 yards for the season — the seventh back in Maryland history to top 1,000 yards.
On Maryland’s next drive, Scott accounted for all 66 yards with runs of 11, 23 and 30 yards, and finally his 2-yard score with 7:44 left that proved to be the winning points.
“He just ran through us like we weren’t there,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said.
Kaepernick, the WAC offensive player of the year, was injured while being sacked late in the first half and moved the rest of the game with a noticeable limp. But he was able to capitalize on a pair of mistakes by Maryland quarterback Chris Turner to help the Wolf Pack pull even.
Nevada’s Jonathon Amaya intercepted Turner’s pass near midfield midway through the third quarter and returned it to the Maryland
22. Three plays later, Kaepernick hit Vai Taua behind the Maryland secondary for a 17-yard TD score to get the Wolf Pack to 28-21.
Late in the third, Turner was hit as he attempted to throw a screen at the Nevada 20. The throw went backward and Nate Agaiava recovered for the Wolf Pack. Kaepernick needed only five plays and less than two minutes to draw even, hitting Marko Mitchell on a 21-yard TD.
The tie lasted only a couple of minutes. Turner hit Torrey Smith for 26 yards on third down, and two plays later Scott ran for his seventh touchdown of the season to give the Terps the lead for good.
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