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Maryland football cruises past Towson, 63-17, in home opener

With a stress-free victory, the Terps are 2-0.

NCAA Football: Towson at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football had no issues with Towson in its 2017 home opener on Saturday, winning 63-17 to improve to 2-0 this season.

For the first time in program history, the Terps have started a year with back-to-back 50-point performances. After a 51-41 win over Texas last weekend, Maryland needed just over 46 minutes to surpass that total. When it was over, the Terps had their highest scoring output since 1954.

Kasim Hill was dominant in his first career start. The freshman completed his first eight passes and finished the afternoon 13-of-16 for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was relieved by Max Bortenschlager late in the third quarter, and the sophomore picked up a rushing score of his own.

But juniors Ty Johnson and D.J. Moore were the stars once again. Johnson racked up 124 rushing yards on just five carries, including touchdowns of 74 and 46 yards. Moore finished with three scores—two through the air, and one insane touchdown on the ground—and hauled in seven passes for 97 yards.

In all, Maryland finished with 367 rushing yards, 10.2 yards per carry and six scores. Seven Terps tallied at least 20 yards on the ground, including Moore and both quarterbacks. While Maryland’s first couple of drives were somewhat pass-heavy, it didn’t take long for the Terps to turn to their dominant ground game.

The Terps’ defense looked shaky at times, but never gave Towson too much. A couple lengthy drives and big plays brought groans from the crowd, but the unit finished with four sacks and a pair of interceptions. Thanks to Darnell Savage’s 75-yard interception return touchdown, Maryland’s defense had as many points as Towson’s offense until the fourth quarter.

Maryland started the game with a seven-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, and Hill tossed his first career touchdown to Moore from three yards out. On the next possession, the two linked up again, as a screen pass turned into broken tackles and a 34-yard score. Ty Johnson got into the mix on his next opportunity, taking a handoff 74 yards for a breakaway and bringing the score to 21-0.

Towson picked up its play after that, embarking on a six-minute drive that finished with a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. The Tigers forced a Maryland punt and stuffed the Terps at the goal line, then looked to be driving again. But Savage had other ideas, picking off a Ryan Stover pass and running it back 75 yards for a pick-six.

Maryland’s defense gave up 193 yards in the first half, but stepped up when it needed to, holding the Tigers to seven first-half points. The Terps entered the locker room up 28-7, and the defense came out of the locker room strong, allowing just six yards to Towson in the third quarter.

While that happened, the offensive fireworks resumed. Johnson’s 46-yard score brought him to 124 yards for the game on his fifth carry. Jake Funk followed with a 25-yard touchdown on Maryland’s next drive, and Moore seemingly made every Towson defender miss en route to a 21-yard score four minutes later. By the time the starters came out, it was 49-7.

Bortenschlager rushed for a touchdown early in the fourth, and Javon Leake joined the party with a 61-yard breakaway score, the first of his career. Maryland’s 63 points Saturday are its most in 63 years; the Terps beat Missouri 74-13 on Thanksgiving Day 1954.

Maryland enters its bye week undefeated, and will host UCF on Sept. 23.

Three things to know

1. Kasim Hill was everywhere. In his first career start, the true freshman completed 13 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three scores. He added 41 yards on the ground. He was throwing blocks on every big Maryland run. While Towson was never going to present too much of a problem, Hill seemed completely in command of the offense, which is encouraging for the Terps going forward.

2. The run defense showed its improvement again. While Maryland did have one lackluster quarter on this side of the ball, Towson was never able to establish its ground game. The Tigers finished with just 99 rushing yards on 36 attempts; Maryland surrendered just 98 to Texas last week.

3. Javon Leake is the backfield’s newest weapon. Maryland brought in three freshman running backs in 2017, and while Anthony McFarland came with the most hype (he was the highest-rated signee in the Terps’ whole class), Leake was the first to see the field. His 61-yard touchdown came in a contest that was already beyond over, but it showed what he can bring.