College Park, Md. — C.J. Brown couldn’t get his arm going Saturday, so he used his legs.
Brown ran for three touchdowns before halftime and shook off early inaccuracy to throw for a score in the third quarter as Maryland cruised past James Madison 52-7 in both teams’ season opener.
“I didn’t play too well today in terms of throwing the football,” said a mildly irritated Brown, who completed just 11 of 24 passes. “The stats speak for themselves, and that’s unacceptable.”
Brandon Ross and Albert Reid added second-half rushing touchdowns, and backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for one in the highest scoring performance of fourth-year coach Randy Edsall’s tenure.
Anthony Nixon and Jeremiah Johnson had interceptions for the Terps, who will begin play in the Big Ten later this season.
Former Georgia Tech starter Vad Lee completed 16 of 37 passes for 141 yards in his debut for the Dukes. He was sacked twice and often hurried during the first half, including on the play leading to Johnson’s interception in the end zone just before halftime.
“It was a combination of guys putting pressure on the quarterback and the guys in coverage,” said Edsall, whose defense also forced a late fumble. “We flushed him a few times. He’s a good athlete.”
Johnson’s interception ended the only Dukes’ first-half possession to reach Maryland territory. New coach Everett Withers’ team wouldn’t get there again until the fourth quarter — against Maryland’s backups.
“We have got to be able to protect the quarterback better, throw the ball down the field and stop the run,” said Withers. “I have to go back and watch the film and narrow it down to one or two things.
James Madison falls to 0-3 against Maryland and 4-19 against schools currently in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Terps won the schools’ previous two meetings by a combined 11 points.
Madison’s Jimmy Moreland intercepted one of Rowe’s passes in the fourth quarter, setting up the Dukes’ lone score as John Miller plunged in from a yard out.
Brown scored on first-half carries of 11, 8 and 2 yards to rush for three touchdowns for the second time in his career. He finished with 61 yards on seven carries and threw for 111 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Deon Long on his last play of the day that made it 38-0 in the third.
“Anytime you score a touchdown, throw a good ball when you’ve been having an off day, it definitely helps,” Brown said.
Ross ran for 86 yards on 16 carries and Wes Brown gained 67 of his 83 ground yards after halftime. The Terps outgained the Dukes 285-161 on the ground, and averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
Maryland led 14-0 after 6 minutes in the opening quarter on drives of 58 and 46 yards.
On the first, C.J. Brown bruised his way in from 11 yards, one play after finding Stefon Diggs over the middle for 5 yards on third-and-4.
On the second, he ran 8 yards into the end zone untouched on a designed QB draw to finish off a five-play march.
Brad Craddock’s 49-yard field goal pushed the lead to 17-0 later in the first.
In the second quarter, Brown finished off a 15-play, 80-yard drive with another punishing run on a fourth-and-goal from the 2, flattening Andrew Zeller, his own lineman, in the process.
“I just knew, fourth down, you’ve got to get in the end zone,” Brown said. “Don’t hold anything back.”