Perhaps it was the trip across the country, the early kickoff or maybe even overconfidence. For whatever reason, No. 23 California was outplayed Saturday by Maryland, which held the Golden Bears without a touchdown until the closing minutes of a stunning 35-27 upset.
Coming off a 10-point loss to unheralded Middle Tennessee State, the Terrapins were given little chance against a California juggernaut that totaled 104 points in disposing of Michigan State and Pac-10 foe Washington State.
But Da'Rel Scott ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a shoulder injury, Chris Turner threw for scores and the Terps (2-1) used a relentless defense to harass the Golden Bears (2-1) from the outset.
California scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes, but by then Maryland was comfortably in control.
The Terrapins led 21-3 early in the second quarter, 21-6 at halftime and 28-6 after three quarters. The victory elevated the stature of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has struggled against non-league competition this season.
Coming off a 66-3 rout of Washington State, California took its first journey to the East Coast since 2001. The trip back did not promise to be nearly as fun.
The noon kickoff was at 9 a.m. West Coast time, which might explain why the Bears got off to an awful start. Maryland scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions and finished the first quarter with a 133-31 advantage in total yardage.
California's Jahvid Best, who amassed 311 yards rushing in his first two games, was at minus-1 after his first five carries. He also absorbed a very hard hit on a short pass with three minutes left in the second quarter and did not return until after halftime.
He finished with 25 yards on 10 carries. Golden Bears quarterback Kevin Riley went 33-for-58 for 423 yards and three touchdowns.
Riley's 10-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Morrah with 6:55 left made it 28-13, but the Terrapins recovered the ensuing onside kick and needed only two plays to reach the end zone. Two late TDs by the California narrowed the gap, but the outcome was never in doubt.
After Cal failed to get a first down on its opening possession, Maryland moved 60 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead. Scott accounted for 44 yards rushing on the drive, including a 24-yard touchdown run.
Riley was then intercepted by Kevin Barnes, who ran 17 yards to the Cal 14. Four plays later, Scott scored from the 1 to make it 14-0.
It was 14-3 before the Terrapins moved 60 yards in a 14-play drive culminated by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Dan Gronkowski. Turner went 7-for-10 for 55 yards and converted three third downs.
California answered with a field goal by David Seawright. At the end of the half, however, Seawright hit the left upright on a 25-yard try.
Maryland went up 28-6 in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Darrius Heyward-Bey.
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