UM rocks E. Michigan, rolls to 50-3 win


COLLEGE PARK - Overconfident? Not a chance.

That pretty much sums up Maryland's 50-3 rout of overmatched Eastern Michigan last night at Byrd Stadium, which was highlighted by three touchdowns and 133 rushing yards from tailback Bruce Perry and another dominating performance by the defense.

In blowing out an inferior opponent - the biggest mismatch since a 52-0 Maryland win over Wake Forest in 1996 - Ralph Friedgen's team erased any fears that it would produce a dull performance in the afterglow of its season-opening win over North Carolina.

"They played for a full 60 minutes, which is sometimes hard to do when you have a lead like we did," Friedgen said after watching his 2-0 team amass 476 yards and allow only 124. "I do think we improved tonight. I know the opponent wasn't as strong, but we still have to execute, so I'm pleased on that note."

Without giving up big plays, the defense provided a near-encore of its first-game effort by holding Eastern Michigan to only 53 yards in the first half, and had racked up 109 scoreless minutes before allowing Eric Klaban to hit a 44-yard field goal with 8:54 left in the game.

The offensive line protected quarterback Shaun Hill, who, in turn, found receivers like Guilian Gary, who caught six passes for 76 yards in the first half. Some semblance of a passing game provided a balance to Perry's second straight 100-yard rushing performance.

It was Perry who got things going for Maryland, which took the opening kickoff and drove 62 yards to take a 6-0 lead. Over the last five plays of the drive, Perry had 23 yards on three carries, including an 8-yard touchdown nearly five minutes into the game.

When Maryland got the ball one minute later, Perry had runs of 17 and 20 yards, setting up Marc Riley's 1-yard plunge with 5:38 left in the first quarter. Later, Perry would score on runs of 24 and 31 yards, with the latter giving Maryland a 34-0 lead just three minutes into the second half.

"I wasn't surprised," Perry said of the open space he often found, "because I knew what our offensive line was capable of."

In between Perry's bursts - the big runs coming on plays that went around end - Hill had a stronger game throwing the ball. The senior said he had worked on refining basic skills during the week to avoid the 10-for-26 passing performance he turned in last week against North Carolina.

The offensive line, which allowed North Carolina to put constant pressure on Hill last week, kept its quarterback safe last night. Eastern Michigan (1-1) didn't record any sacks, and Hill had plenty of time to find a go-to receiver, which turned out to be Gary.

"I threw a lot better," said Hill, who did throw for two touchdowns last week. "[But] I knew my mechanics were off, and I just tried to concentrate on those things."

Gary, best known in recent days for spraining his neck during the last week of preseason practice, led Maryland in receiving in 1999 and 2000. Still, he never really stood out as his team prepared for a season in Friedgen's new system.

But after a two-catch, 26-yard performance last week, Gary warmed up by catching passes on a few slant patterns, then used an up-and-go to beat Eastern Michigan cornerback Michael Woods for a 19-yard touchdown catch that ended a two-possession drought for Maryland.

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan's best offensive effort garnered all of 38 yards on a drive, and even that ended on a punt.

"I don't know if we would have scored if Maryland didn't show up," Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Woodruff said.

For the second straight game, the Maryland defense caused misery for an opposing quarterback. Eastern Michigan's Troy Edwards - a backup to Jeff Crooks - found only fleeting success while avoiding a pass rush that was coming off a four-sack performance from the previous week.

Edwards threw two interceptions - including the second in two weeks by Tony Okanlawon - and only produced 69 yards through the air.

Life wasn't any easier for Eastern Michigan tailback Chris R. Roberson, who did gain 101 yards on 18 carries in his team's 16-12 win last week over Southeast Missouri State. Maryland answered with E.J. Henderson, who had eight tackles.

"Once we went up [19-0] and then had a three and out," Henderson said, "that took a lot of the life out of them."

The nature of the game - played in front of 42,105 - allowed Friedgen to achieve his stated secondary goal, which was to play as many lower-shelf athletes as possible, including quarterback Latrez Harrison and linemen like Lou Lombardo and Kyle Schmitt.

As usual, Harrison was a mixed bag, leading an eight-play, 60-yard drive in the final minutes (ending with a 2-yard run by freshman Jason Crawford), but also fumbling the ball, a big no-no with Friedgen and the team's first of the season.

"I'm not happy when you put the ball on the ground," Friedgen said. "But I was glad to see that he had some success ... to get some confidence."

Next for Maryland

Opponent: West Virginia

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Record: 1-1

Yesterday: Beat Ohio, 20-3

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