O'Brien passes Terps to victory

September 25, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Playing with a sprained ankle and making his first college start, Danny O'Brien should have been nervous. Or, at the very least, apprehensive.

Instead, as Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said, the redshirt freshman quarterback was "as calm as a cucumber."

Cool as one, too, even on an uncharacteristically hot September afternoon.

O'Brien threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, and the Terrapins got an 85-yard punt return from Tony Logan in a 42-28 victory over winless Florida International on Saturday.

With Jamarr Robinson sidelined with a sore shoulder, O'Brien was told late in the week that he would start against FIU. Friedgen, however, kept the decision a secret from everyone but the team.

"I felt pretty confident. I don't think there were any nerves," said O'Brien, whose previous action was mop-up duty against Morgan State and one play apiece against Navy and West Virginia.


His performance against FIU belied his inexperience.

"I was very impressed with his poise. He never got rattled," Friedgen said. "You'd think he'd at least be a little bit nervous, but I never got that from him. He was in total control."

O'Brien completed 18 of 27 passes despite being bothered by a high ankle sprain for two weeks. His backup was Logan, a wide receiver, because Robinson couldn't even lift his arm before the game.

O'Brien brought the Terps back from an early 7-0 deficit and directed two long scoring drives after FIU pulled into a tie at 21.

"He took what our defense gave him and ran with it," Golden Panthers coach Mario Cristobal said.

Da'Rel Scott ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns for the Terrapins (3-1), who have already exceeded their win total of last year. Torrey Smith had eight catches for 159 yards and a score.

Wes Carroll went 35 for 58 for 355 yards for Florida International (0-3). He threw two TD passes but was intercepted twice.

FIU amassed 472 yards on a whopping 98 snaps, but the Terrapins made the big plays when it counted most.

After the Panthers got within a touchdown with 4:16 left, Maryland's Davin Meggett ran for a 76-yard touchdown on the next play from scrimmage to clinch the victory.

"Missed plays and miscommunication were our biggest problems today," FIU cornerback Anthony Gaitor said.

Down 21-14 at halftime, FIU got a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carroll to Jonathan Faucher with 5:34 left in the third quarter.

After the kickoff, a pass interference call wiped out a third-down incompletion. On the next play, O'Brien lofted a 68-yard touchdown pass to Smith to put the Terrapins on top to stay.

A 9-yard scoring run by Scott made it 35-21, and FIU subsequently missed two chances to get within a touchdown after getting inside the Maryland 11.

"When we get down that close we have to score touchdowns," Cristobal said, "particularly in a game when they were scoring."

The Panthers went up 7-0 in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Harden. Carroll went 4 for 5 for 30 yards on the drive, but the key play was a hard hit by Terps safety Kenny Tate that drew a personal foul call inside the Maryland 20.

After being held to two yards rushing on seven tries on their first three possessions, the Terrapins went to the air. Two straight passes to Smith totaled 43 yards, and O'Brien tied it with a 9-yard pass to LaQuan Williams in the left corner of the end zone.

Maryland then forced a punt. Logan sidestepped two would-be tacklers, slipped to his right to avoid traffic and sprinted the rest of the way down the sideline. It was the Terps' first punt return for a touchdown since Steve Suter in the 2004 Gator Bowl.

Carroll's 43-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ellington made it 14-all, but Maryland answered with a 56-yard run by Scott.

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