COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — It was clear from the beginning that Maryland was going to let Taulia Tagovailoa shine in its season opener.
Tagovailoa threw for three touchdowns and ran for one in the first half of Maryland's 38-6 rout of Towson on Saturday. The Terrapins took their standout quarterback out late in the third quarter, allowing backups to play against an FCS opponent. But that was after Tagovailoa attempted a whopping 32 passes in the first half as Maryland pulled away.
“When people play man and they get the extra guys in the box, you want to throw the ball,” Terps coach Michael Locksley said. “We wanted to start off fast. Our quarterback is our strength, and I'm going to keep talking about — we have to play to our strengths.”
The Terrapins (1-0) had little trouble against a Towson team playing its first game under coach Pete Shinnick. Tagovailoa threw for 260 yards, and Corey Dyches had six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The Terrapins have high hopes in Locksley's fifth season at the helm. They're coming off an eight-win campaign last year and have a talented, experienced quarterback in Tagovailoa. He opened the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run.
“He made a lot of plays,” Shinnick said. “That’s what he’s done against everybody we watched on film."
Tagovailoa struck twice more in the first quarter with a 23-yard TD pass to Dyches and a 24-yarder to Jeshaun Jones. He added a 13-yard scoring toss to Kaden Prather with 14 seconds left in the half to make it 28-3.
Roman Hemby scored on a 9-yard run in the third quarter.
Tagovailoa had only one pass attempt in the second half before he was replaced by Billy Edwards Jr.
Nathan Kent threw for 128 yards for Towson (0-1).
Towson: Locksley didn’t run up the score against his alma mater, removing Tagovailoa. The Tigers never got into the end zone, but they avoided turnovers, which helped keep the final score somewhat reasonable. In fact, neither team had a turnover.
Maryland: Jones and Dyches were the top returning pass catchers for the Terps, and their chemistry with Tagovailoa looked strong as expected. Tagovailoa did have to do his share of scrambling, so Maryland’s pass protection will be something to watch in the coming weeks.
“I feel like we had three or four blitzes where if we could get him down, we’re one-on-one with him, it changes the complexion of the game,” Shinnick said. “But that’s why he’s who he is, and that’s why he does what he does."
Maryland has held three straight opponents without a touchdown, dating to last season. It's the first time the Terps have accomplished that since they shut out Cincinnati, Clemson and Virginia to finish off an undefeated regular season in 1976.
As a Towson alum, it's no surprise that Locksley was willing to play the Baltimore-area school, but he also said he wants to schedule other teams in the region like Morgan State and Howard.
“What a great thing it is to be able to play local teams, in-state programs,” Locksley said.
There was an impressive crowd in the student section for the game.
“We got off to the fast start that we like to get off to, scoring 21 points in the first quarter," Locksley said. “I think you can attribute some of that to our fans. Our student section especially gave us that energy right from the start.”
That said, after Maryland took a big lead the crowd thinned out.
“It was booming in the beginning,” said Prather, a West Virginia transfer. “After halftime, I looked up and I was like, ‘What’s going on?' It got a little slow.”
Towson: The Tigers open conference play in the CAA when they host Monmouth on Saturday night.
Maryland: The Terps host Charlotte on Saturday night.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll