Lorenzo Harrison made it look way too easy.
With a slight left across the line of scrimmage and a quick dodge to the right, the true freshman running back bolted his way into Maryland’s history books with a 62-yard touchdown run. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, he became the first Maryland freshman to rush for a touchdown in each of his first four career games.
Through the gap in Purdue’s defense at midfield, Harrison’s hustle was no match for the four Boilermakers chasing him into the end zone. Calm without that “freshman look,” head coach DJ Durkin said he’s not surprised by Harrison’s success escaping defenses.
“[Harrison] is a really unique talent,” Durkin said. “He’s a great football player. He can run you over, he can make you miss, he can hit the big one, which he showed us all.”
Harrison finished with six carries for 78 yards, powering the Terrapins to a commanding 50-7 win over Purdue in both teams’ Big Ten opener at Maryland Stadium on Saturday. He now has three rushing touchdowns on the season.
“He’s got such a low center of gravity, he’s thick and he’s a tough guy to tackle,” Durkin said. “We learned that really early here on our own defense.”
A product of DeMatha Catholic High School, Harrison has been a key factor in Maryland’s 4-0 start. Quickly becoming one of the team’s top rushers, he’s averaging 71.5 yards per game and 7.5 yards per carry.
Harrison and sophomore Ty Johnson have combined to immensely improve Maryland’s backfield this season.
Midway through the third quarter, Johnson streaked up the field for 76 yards during the team’s fifth scoring drive and had a 48-yard touchdown run in the beginning of the fourth. He ended the day with 204 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns, crediting strong blocking with facilitating long runs.
He now averages 11.9 yards per carry and 83.2 each game.
“It was a great feeling,” Johnson said. “But it all comes down to the O-Line and the perimeter blocking from the wide receivers. When everyone [does] their part, you have your own 20 square feet, and it affects everyone else when you do your job.”
Going into Saturday’s matchup, the Terps’ rush offense was second to Ohio State in the conference, and they currently average 300 rushing yards per game, compared with 200.7 in 2015.
With 15 touchdowns on the ground through four games, the team is also on pace to blow past last season’s 20 rushing touchdowns.
“The O-Line did a heck of a job making the blocks,” senior quarterback Perry Hills said. “The running backs, they make some great cuts. Sitting back and seeing them split the defense and get the run down the field with your arms up — it’s a great feeling.”