Youthful Panthers run over by Maryland

The only thing the Panthers and first year Head Coach Ron Turner won on opening day against the Maryland Terrapins was the coin toss, but even that was deferred over to the Terrapins.

Both teams made field goals, only before a read-option keep by Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown to go up 13-3 early on the Panthers with nearly six minutes to remain in the quarter. The Terps, who run a heavy read-option offense, have dual threat at wide receiver in Diggs and Deon Long, a transfer from Iowa Western University and The University of New Mexico.

Long took a 25-yard reception for a touchdown to open the second quarter and help the Terps go up by 17 points before halftime.

Greg Hickman gave the Panthers some momentum with a sack and forced fumble of Brown to give the offense the ball on the Maryland 25 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half. The offense took advantage by a fourth and goal touchdown by fullback Lamarq Caldwell with just under nine minutes in the first half to make the score 20-10.

The defense, with a line that has been noted to be the strongest part of this team by the coaching staff, allowed  the Terps to 402 total yards, 239 passing and 163 rushing, in the first half, while causing 2 turnovers. The Panthers allowed Brown to account for 2 rushing touchdowns and 3 passing touchdowns in the first half alone.

The offensive line showed their youth by allowing several quarterback hurries and a couple of sacks in the first half. That’s a key reason that the offense did not get a high amount of points on the board with the first half score being 40-10.

“I don’t know what team that was out there,” Turner said to Fox Sports Florida Sideline Reporter Jenn Hildreth. “We didn’t give ourselves any chances in the first half. I didn’t recognize the defense or the offense in that half and we are going to have to change something if we want to stay in this game.”

The second half opened with an eight-yard rush by Caldwell, who went for 79 yards on 21 carries on the day while also racking up seven receiving yards on one catch. That series ended with a fourth down attempt that was a yard short.

The Panthers defense slowed down the offensive attack of the Terps to keep the game at 40-10 until early in the fourth, when it went to 43-13 with a field goal from place-kicker Brad Craddock from 23 yards out.

The offense then decided to switch gears an inserted backup QB E.J. Hilliard into the game However, Hilliard’s first play of the 2013 season was an interception to cornerback D.J. McDougle. On his second series in the game, he also took two sacks on successive plays by the defensive line of the Terps.

With no offense the speak of and a defense getting torched by Diggs and Long, the silver lining of the day was in the kicking game with punter Chris Ayers and place-kicker Sergio Sroka making their collegiate debuts. Ayers had nine punts for 361 yards and a long of 50 yards, while Sroka went one for one on field goals, making the lone point after touchdown and had no touchbacks.

Maryland QB C.J. Brown had 283 passing yards, 109 rushing yards and five total touchdowns in the win against FIU.

The Panthers will face the University of Central Florida on Friday, Sept. 6 at FIU Stadium.

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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