“I hesitated because my guy was telling me, ‘Stay in [the end zone], stay in,'” Diggs said. But Diggs said he had decided to himself: “We're going to take this one out.”

Edsall said that on the sideline, he was saying: “No, no, no!” Once he saw Diggs race into the clear, he said his thinking changed to “Go, go, go!”

Virginia coach Mike London said some of his players “let up” and ran through the end zone — apparently because they assumed Diggs was going to down the ball.

Diggs “kind of tricked us,” Virginia kicker Ian Frye said.

Edsall said he told the team at the hotel that “the one thing we have to do is start fast and finish strong. I just didn't know we were going to start that fast.”

Maryland got the ball back immediately when linebacker Kenneth Tate deflected a pass and freshman safety Anthony Nixon intercepted it, setting up Maryland at the Virginia 32.

Virginia's offense has had turnover problems, with a conference-worst 10 interceptions and five fumbles entering the game. The Cavaliers ranked 123rd in the nation in turnover margin.

The Terps quickly capitalized on the takeaway. They made it 14-0 when Hills floated a short pass to tailback Justus Pickett, who eluded linebacker Steve Greer and ran in for a 20-yard touchdown.

Maryland led 17-0 when Virginia began to come back. The Cavaliers kicked a field goal, then drove 58 yards to cut the deficit to 17-10 with 2:45 left in the third quarter. Maryland botched a handoff on the next series, and the fumble led to another Virginia field goal, making it 17-13.

But Hills capped a 47-yard drive with a 6-yard run up the middle to increase the lead to 24-13 with 13:16 remaining.

“Whenever they see Stefon coming around, they're probably thinking he's getting the ball automatically,” Hills said. “It just opened up a hole and let me score.”

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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