The Maryland Terrapins sent Ralph Friedgen out the right way: with a victory, and a big one at that. In the Fridge's final game as Maryland's coach, the Terrapins forced four turnovers, rushed for 297 yards, and defeated the East Carolina Pirates in the Military Bowl, 51-20.
Of course, it wasn't just Ralph Friedgen's final game. A host of senior Terrapins were playing their last game in a Maryland jersey, and none went out in a bigger blaze of glory than Da'Rel Scott. Known for his speed and big plays, Scott broke off touchdown runs of 61 and 91 yards, totalling an eye-popping 201 yards on the ground. Going out big is the way to do it, and Da'Rel definitely went out big.
Funnily enough, the guys that will still be around next year, D.J. Adams and Davin Meggett, were almost as good. Adams punched in four short TDs out of the goal-line set, for which he's a perfect fit. But everything about him, from the swagger to the strength to the deciveness, screams "future star." Meggett had three huge plays himself, one 44-yard run and two big third/fourth down receptions. Scott will be missed, but the future with Meggett and particularly Adams in College Park is pretty bright.
As far as team performance goes, things weren't always as smooth as they could've been, especially in the first half, but Maryland easily outplayed ECU for much of the game. The Pirates suffered from a variety of mistakes, including both the four turnovers and an eye-popping 12 penalties, and Maryland took advantage. The performance wasn't dominant, especially early, but Maryland was the better team, and it showed.
Individually, the game was a mixed bag past the running backs. Torrey Smith was held under wraps entirely with the exception of a dropped touchdown. Kevin Dorsey caught a TD early, but then dropped a crucial third-down pass. The offensive line kept pressure off Danny O'Brien, but were called for a variety of procedural penalties.
Even O'Brien himself fell into the "mixed bag" category. His first pass was underthrown and intercepted, and though he had his bright moments, including the Dorsey TD and a few nice throws to Matt Furstenburg, he had a lot of disappointing moments. His wide reicevers didn't help him out a lot and dropped a few passes, too, but his performance wasn't up to what we've come to expect. I don't know if it was the early pick, a new atmosphere, the coaching situation, or just a bad day, but something seemed off.
Not that that's bad, of course. ECU, despite that vaunted offense, managed only 3 points in the first half and looked little better in the second. They had exactly one play - a fade route against Trenton Hughes - and it worked about half the time. Maryland's defense was fantastic, especially against an offense so vaunted. Other than that one fade route, ECU's offense was middlin' and their defense was worse. Like I said earlier, Maryland was the better team, even when they weren't at their best, and it was obvious.
But all of that is missing the bigger point. I could talk about the statement that Maryland made about their bowl placement, or about the attendance, or about any other myriad things, but all of those would be missing the point, too. The point of this game was to end the Ralph Friedgen Era the right way, and Maryland did it.
You'll always be remember fondly, Ralph. Thanks for everything.