Maryland beats Howard 52-13 to make Durkin's debut a success
When DJ Durkin looks back on his first win as a college head coach, his most vivid memory will be an impromptu celebration that occurred long after the final whistle.
Durkin enjoyed a lopsided victory in his debut at Maryland, overseeing a dominant performance that carried the Terrapins past Howard 52-13 on Saturday.
Durkin left his job as Michigan's defensive coordinator in December to guide a team that went 3-9 in 2015. Walking on the sideline in a black baseball cap, an untucked red polo shirt and long black pants, the 37-year-old coach was quite satisfied with the blowout.
"Great day for our program," Durkin said. "A great win for us, a great way to start."
The Terrapins (1-0) scored on their first four possessions and the defense began the game by forcing Howard into five consecutive three-and-outs.
It was 35-0 at halftime, and Maryland coasted from there.
Afterward, Durkin and the team gathered in the locker room and sang the school fight song together.
"The look on their faces, that's what you do it for," he said. "That's what it's all about."
The players hope this is the dawn of a new era at a school that for years has struggled to be competitive.
"I have seen a few coaches come in and out, so it was a special moment to see him get that first win under his belt," said running back Kenneth Goins Jr., who scored the game's first touchdown.
Perry Hills went 14 for 19 for 126 yards, Trey Edmunds scored twice in the first quarter and Maryland topped the 500-yard mark in total offense (519) for only the second time in 36 games.
"They're a strong team," Howard coach Gary Harrell said. "They're very disciplined and coached very well."
Howard (0-1) won only one game last year while being outscored 408-169, so this game wasn't necessarily an indication of the Terrapins' improvement under Durkin. That answer may not come until Maryland begins Big Ten play next month.
"There are obviously plenty of things to clean up, get corrected and do much better," Durkin said.
Still, there were lots of positives for the Terrapins against the neighboring Bison of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Durkin got this job because of his defensive knowledge, and the Terrapins were exceptionally stingy. Howard finished with only 69 yards rushing (compared to 315 for Maryland) and didn't get into the end zone until Durkin emptied his bench in the fourth quarter.
"They have more resources, and we know we're the underdog coming in," said Bison receiver Jalen Avery, who had four catches for 26 yards.
Hills, in contrast, had no problem moving on the Bison. More importantly, he protected the ball. After finishing with a minus-18 turnover differential last year, the Terrapins did not give the ball away.
Freshman backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome entered in the third quarter. He threw for 60 yards, and ran for 53 yards and a TD.
Maryland also got a touchdown from its special teams: Edmunds took a blocked punt 13 yards into the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Durkin, meanwhile, said the biggest difference in his new job was trying to oversee the entire team rather than focus on the defense.
"There were times when the defense was on the field when I was getting antsy," he said. "I'm usually doing more when they're out on the field."
HOWARD: The Bison received a decent fee for coming to Maryland, so there's that. But their lackluster performance indicates they might again have difficulty being competitive in the MEAC.
MARYLAND: The aura of mystery surrounding the program under Durkin has, to a degree, been lifted. Although a victory over Howard won't impress the Top 25 voters, it just might enhance the players' confidence and perhaps generate some enthusiasm from a fan base that hasn't quite gotten behind the Terps - as evidenced by the thousands of empty seats among a crowd of 35,474.
HOWARD: The Bison face another Big Ten opponent on the road, Rutgers next Saturday at noon.
MARYLAND: The Terrapins' first road game under Durkin will be at Florida International on Friday night. Maryland is 4-0 all-time against FIU.