Cornerback and return specialist Will Likely played a huge role in the University of Maryland Terrapins’ season-opening 50-21 victory over the Richmond Spiders on Saturday afternoon.
The junior set a Big Ten record with 233 punt return yards (on eight returns), which included a 67-yard return touchdown during a 37-point onslaught.
The Terps, led by quarterback Perry Hills (12/21, 138 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), were down 14-13 early on, but scored 37 unanswered points to take a 50-14 lead with six minutes left in the game.
Senior running back from Newark, DE, Brandon Ross, added a career-high 150 rushing yards and one touchdown on just 18 carries, which was key on offense as Hills was erratic and inconsistent through the air at times. In 2014, Ross ran for 100 yards just once (108 against Rutgers in November), and it’s his sixth career 100-yard rushing game. His 150 today is also a career-high.
Despite Ross’ solid game out of the backfield, Richmond likely wouldn’t have surrendered 50 points if it weren’t for the decision to punt to Will Likely eight times (see what I did there?). The fact that they continued kicking his way blows my mind, but it’s what led to great field position for head coach Randy Edsall’s program, and allowed his rushing attack to rack up 341 yards and three touchdowns on the ground (7.6 yards per carry).
Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta tossed for 220 yards on 18-of-30 passing, but as a team the Spiders ran for just 56 yards on 27 carries (2.6 YPC), and one of their three touchdowns came in garbage time. Richmond managed just 276 total yards, 12 first downs and a 2-for-12 third down efficiency on offense. A porous performance as a whole, which led to UMD’s second 50-point game under Edsall (they also opened up last season with a 50-point game, beating JMU 52-7).
Maryland will stay at home again next Saturday to face Bowling Green at Byrd Stadium at noon ET.