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Explosive plays key Maryland football to convincing win over Towson

The Terps scored seven long touchdowns to blow out the Tigers.

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

Maryland football scored nine touchdowns en route to its crushing 63-17 win over Towson Saturday. Seven of them were at least 21 yards.

Kasim Hill hooked up with D.J. Moore on the Terps’ opening drive for a nine-yard pitch and catch to cap off a perfectly executed offensive series. After that, Maryland ripped off touchdowns of 34, 74, 75, 46, 25, 21, one and 61 yards before the day was over.

“When you’re trying, on offense, to go three or four yards at a time all the way down the field, that becomes difficult,” head coach DJ Durkin said after the game. “We measure, we count explosive plays always because that’s a big factor in the game.”

As is usually the case, Moore and Ty Johnson were responsible for many of those explosive plays this afternoon. The two combined for five of the Terps’ nine touchdowns on the day, four of them counting as “big plays.” Moore even had a punt return touchdown called back because he had signaled for a fair catch before being run into and fielding it on a bounce.

“The big plays that end up in touchdowns, those are the obvious ones that everyone remembers,” Durkin said. “Those guys give us the chance to do that. Explosive plays come from players often times more than just coaching and scheme.”

Just like last week, Maryland had a big non-offensive score when safety Darnell Savage picked off a ball down the right sideline and returned it 75 yards to put the Terps up 28-7 in the second quarter. With the pick-six, Maryland has now scored in all three phases this season, something the team didn’t accomplish until the final week of the regular season last year.

Big plays have become a staple of Maryland’s scoring arsenal. In addition to the seven touchdowns of over 20 yards Saturday, the Terps scored four more in the Texas game last week. Moore making what seems like a routine catch and then refusing to be tackled almost seems inevitable now.

“He’s bigger than you think,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said of Moore on Wednesday. “D.J. Moore is bigger than Ty Johnson. D.J. is a big guy. He’s been as heavy as 220-something pounds, so a lot of those little guys and [defensive backs] really aren’t about tackling knowing that you have a guy with the ball in his hands that runs violently like a tailback, he slashes, he’s hard to get to the ground. I think after the catch is where D.J. is at his best.”

Notably absent from Saturday’s blowout win was Anthony McFarland, who is expected to be one of Maryland’s biggest home run hitters in the coming years. When the Terps pulled ahead by a big enough margin in the third quarter, many of the team’s reserves made their way onto the field for the first time this season, and in some cases, in their careers. At tailback, it was Javon Leake, not McFarland, who made his debut, rushing four times for 78 yards and a touchdown, including a 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. McFarland hasn’t played a down of live football in well over a year, missing his senior season at DeMatha with a leg injury.

“Anthony is not 100 percent yet,” Durkin said. “He’s still recovering. He didn’t play a snap of football all last year. I’m gonna tell you what now. That guy grinds in practice and has had the best two, three weeks of practice since he’s been here. He will be a great, great, All-American type of player here one day. Right now, he’s not 100 percent healthy and so that’s why he wasn’t used in the game.”

Maryland will have a week off to rest up and get healthy before taking the field against UCF on Sept. 23. When the Terps do get back on the field, expect to see more big, explosive plays.