COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland coach Randy Edsall summarized his team's 7-6 win over William & Mary on Saturday rather neatly at the start of his post-game press conference.
"It wasn't pretty, but it's a win," Edsall said. "We've got so many things that we can take from this game to improve upon, and we will."
William & Mary, a Football Championship Subdivision team, led most of the game in the season opener for both teams. But Maryland's Justus Pickett ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter and Brad Craddock added the tie-breaking extra point.
The Terrapins won despite turning the ball over four times, missing a short field goal and making a number of mistakes. Freshman quarterback Perry Hills, in his first collegiate start, completed 16 of 24 for 145 yards and directed the winning 10-play, 69-yard drive, but he threw three interceptions.
"I'm excited for the win, (but) there's a lot of things I can improve on," Hills said. "Whenever I was out there, I wasn't really overwhelmed or anything, wasn't nervous. Just a couple of silly mistakes that I shouldn't have made, but that won't happen again."
Maryland defensive back Dexter McDougle was called for three pass interference penalties, including two in the first quarter, when the Terrapins committed three of their turnovers.
Two of the turnovers set up William & Mary field goals, but the Terrapins kept the Tribe out of the end zone and shut them out for the final three quarters.
"I was definitely happy with how we handled the situation because they could have scored touchdowns in every last one of those situations," said Maryland linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield. "We didn't let them score one touchdown, so letting them come away with a field goal isn't a bad thing."
Hartsfield led the Terps with 13 tackles and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Joe Vellano added 11 tackles plus his first career interception off a bobbled ball that popped into his hands and stopped a Tribe drive.
But William & Mary, which has lost 10 of its last 11 openers, made Maryland work throughout. The Tribe gained 229 yards total offense — the Terrapins had 236 — but missed a number of good chances on long passes. Starting quarterback Brent Caprio misfired on one play when he had a receiver open by at least 10 yards.
Caprio injured his shoulder in the first half and didn't return. William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said he knew only that he's out for now, but he liked how hard his team played.
"There's all kinds of little things here and there," Laycock said. "The point is our guys competed. We competed throughout. That's what you like to see."
The Tribe took their 6-0 lead on two Drake Kuhn field goals in the first quarter, each after a Maryland turnover. Craddock missed a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter, and the Terrapins left the field at halftime to loud boos from the Byrd Stadium crowd.
Maryland finally got a good drive going on the first play of the fourth quarter. The crucial play came when Kevin Dorsey made his only catch of the day on third-and-8 from the Tribe 36. Dorsey eluded a tackler and raced 22 yards to the 14.
Two plays later, Pickett ran left, quickly bounced outside and easily finished the 6-yard touchdown.
"I knew a blitz was coming on," Pickett said. "The offensive line did a great job picking it up, and all I had to do was walk into the end zone."
Edsall said he took pride in how hard the Terrapins fought to get the win. He knew it wasn't their best day.
"They very easily could have folded their tents, but they kept preserving, fighting and clawing, and they found a way to win," Edsall said. "To overcome all of the adversity that we had in that game is a great credit to our players."