MIAMI — A combination of execution and fun has helped Maryland open the season with two convincing wins.
But the combination of Perry Hills to DJ Moore hasn’t hurt either.
Hills threw for three touchdowns, two to Moore, to lead Maryland to a 41-14 win over Florida International on Friday night.
Hills completed 13-of-18 passes for 210 yards in three quarters. He connected with Moore for a 45-yard touchdown pass and Derrick Hayward for a 9-yard score in the second quarter to give Maryland a 31-7 advantage at halftime. Lorenzo Harrison scored on a 40-yard run for the Terrapins’ fourth touchdown of the first half.
“We’re doing an unbelievable job of executing,” Hills said. “We all came out here and had a good time. That’s the final point – to come out here and have fun.”
Moore finished with six receptions and 147 yards for Maryland (2-0).
“We watched on film (FIU cornerbacks) were going to play soft often so that was something we were going to attack,” Moore said.
First-year Maryland head coach DJ Durkin rested Hills after his third touchdown pass — a 40-yard catch and run by Moore with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter.
“Just pleased the way we came out and played,” Durkin said. “I thought our guys prepared really well, traveled really well. That was a big thing for us coming and how we were going to go through it as a team.
“It’s not easy getting road wins in college football. The way our guys responded, I’m really excited for them.”
The Terrapins never trailed after taking a 10-0 lead on Adam Greene’s 23-yard field and Jermaine Carter’s 15-yard interception return in the first quarter.
Carter’s interception was the third interception return for FIU quarterback Alex McGough.
“I’m proud of this football team; I love this football team,” FIU head coach Ron Turner said. “I’m disappointed for them more because we battled and we did a lot of good things defensively and I think they wore our defense down.”
Alex Gardner rushed for 109 yards and scored on a four-yard run in the second quarter for the Panthers (0-2).
“We should be putting out more points as an offense because we’re experienced so it’s frustrating,” Gardner said. “But the great thing about sports is that we get another chance.”
The Terrapins are now 5-0 in their all-time series against the Panthers.
MARYLAND: The passing connection usually is Hills to Moore but the combination switched roles on a reverse play in the first quarter, when Moore completed a 21-yard pass to Hills that led to Greene’s field goal. “That was fun, I almost lost the ball for a second in the lights, first career catch,” Hills said.
FIU: McGough limped off the field after attempting to tackle Carter during his interception. Red-shirt freshman Maurice Alexander replaced McGough for the next three series. Although McGough returned with 56 seconds remaining in the first half, Alexander played the entire second half. Turner said McGough experienced stiffness in his lower back and he sat him out the rest of the game as a precaution.
MARYLAND: It’s back to the Sunshine State next weekend for the Terrapins, who play at Central Florida on Sept. 17 in the final tune-up before opening their Big Ten schedule at home against Purdue on Oct. 1.
FIU: The Panthers return to UMass for a second consecutive year, going to Amherst on Sept. 17.