NEW ORLEANS -- There was a time when Maryland quarterback meant a smooth ride, with guys named Boomer and seasons that ended in bowl games.
Now, it's a battle zone.
Brian Cummings did just fine in his debut as the Terps' starter against Tulane, but he lasted less than a quarter before leaving with a sprained ankle. Maryland sputtered under Orlando Strozier, but he got the offense moving in the fourth quarter, and the defense was solid throughout for a 29-10 victory at the Superdome.
It was the Terps' first season-opening victory under coach Mark Duffner, who notched his 10th victory to go against 24 losses, and nobody cared that it came against one of the nation's weakest Division I-A teams. Maryland's next three games are at renovated Byrd Stadium, and the home fans could see a lot of Strozier. He completed two of seven passes for 10 yards, but also gained 49 yards on 15 rushes as the Terps stayed with the run-and-shoot alignment in the second half, but stayed on the ground.
Cummings, a redshirt sophomore, left late in the first quarter after injuring his left ankle. He had completed 10 of 12 passes for 71 yards.
He became a starter by default, when Scott Milanovich was given a four-game suspension for gambling on intercollegiate athletics.
Kevin Foley, an able reserve the two previous seasons, transferred to Division I-AA Boston University in the off-season.
Strozier, a redshirt junior from Augusta, Ga., missed all of last season recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery. The year before that, he led the Terps in interceptions as a cornerback, but he was moved to quarterback last spring, when Milanovich's involvement triggered an internal investigation into gambling.
Maryland scored a touchdown and took a 15-0 lead on Strozier's first full series, but it went nowhere on its next four possessions, and the Terps were reeling when Tulane crept within 15-10 in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Strozier delivered the first down field completion of his collegiate career a minute later, an 11-yarder to freshman receiver Kendrick Walton on third-down-and-two from the Tulane 32-yard line. Two minutes after that, he converted on fourth-and-one from the Green Wave 48.
Still finding his way, Strozier collided with sophomore superback Buddy Rodgers and fell to the ground. Broken play or not, Rodgers rambled 19 yards up the middle for the clinching touchdown with 8:35 left.
After safety Lamont Gore intercepted Aley Demarest's pass at midfield, Strozier led the Terps 41 yards for another touchdown, with redshirt sophomore Brian Underwood scoring from the 3. Underwood had 92 yards on 17 carries.
Tulane's only touchdown came after a botched Terps punt, and required only a 27-yard drive. Three plays into the fourth quarter, halfback John Hubert turned a shovel pass into a 3-yard touchdown with 14:06 to go, but the Terps settled down.
Gore's interception was one of three Tulane turnovers.
Cummings was in a groove when he was sacked for a 4-yard loss by Keith Cook with 15 seconds to go in the first quarter. He limped off the field without assistance, but made his way to the bench, where he was surrounded by a large crowd. Trainer Sandy Worth rubbed his head in a gesture of consolation, but the real pain was in his left ankle.
Strozier's first play as a college quarterback was a short pass to Geroy Simon that lost a yard, forcing the Terps to punt, but life seemed simple on his second series.
The Terps needed just six plays to drive 54 yards and take a 15-0 lead with 10:39 to go in the half. Strozier bootlegged right on first down for 8 yards, and then Brian Underwood took over.
The redshirt sophomore gained 6 yards, then used a big block from slot receiver Geroy Simon to ramble 35 yards down the right sideline to the Green Wave 5-yard line.
Two plays later, out of the shotgun formation, Strozier started left and made a sharp cut back and into the end zone. Without Cummings, the regular holder, Maryland went with a trick formation, and Buddy Rodgers ran for the two-point conversion.
On the play before he was injured, Cummings had a string of 10 straight completions end. Seven came on the Terps' second possession, when he drove them 65 yards for a touchdown.
Maryland converted three third downs during the drive, as Underwood turned swing passes into gains of 7 and 18 yards, and Strozier's 4-yard run in Black Thunder, the short-yardage alignment, got the Terps to the 3.
A motion penalty pushed Maryland back, but on third-and-goal from the 6, Rodgers sidestepped free safety Elijah Freeman and Maryland got the early lead with 5:29 to go in the first quarter.
The Maryland defense, which kept Tulane out of the end zone for more than 59 minutes last year, limited the Green Wave to one first down on its first three possessions.
Tulane didn't get inside the Terps' 30 until the last seven minutes of the half, but John Hubert fumbled after being hit by middle linebacker Tim Brown and safety back Lamont Gore recovered.
The Green Wave drove 53 yards at the end of the half to the Terps' 15-yard line, but Demarest threw three straight incompletions and Tulane settled for a 32-yard field goal by Brad Palazzo with 26 seconds left.
As the teams were leaving the field for halftime, Maryland was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
There was bad blood early in the second quarter, when cornerback Andreal Johnson, in on punt return since Strozier was readying for more important duties, was decked by Corey Prout while the kick was still in the air.
NEXT FOR MARYLAND
Opponent: No. 20 North Carolina
Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park
When: Saturday, noon
1% Yesterday: Lost to Syracuse, 20-9