Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is heading into unemployment as a winner.
Already the Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year, already the engineer of the second-biggest regular-season turnaround in the country, Friedgen ended his 10-year run at his alma mater yesterday with a 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl in Washington.
The Terrapins forced four turnovers, and Da’Rel Scott ran for 201 yards.
New Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson announced last week that Friedgen was being fired, effective after the bowl game, with the school buying out the final year of the 63-year-old coach’s contract for $2 million. Friedgen said preparing for the game was like “a slow death,’’ and he found it hard to hold back his emotions.
He patrolled the Maryland sideline one last time, holding his customary playsheet and wearing a white cap with the word “Terps’’ in red. Fans held up signs saying “Thanks Ralph’’ and chanted his name. He got the customary ice-bucket bath from the players with 2 1/2 minutes to play.
Friedgen’s last act was the second-biggest margin of victory in Maryland bowl history as well as the most points the school has scored in a bowl. Friedgen went 5-2 in bowl games at the school.
Scott had second-half touchdown runs of 61 and 91 yards on back-to-back Terrapins offensive plays and posted the school’s first 200-yard rushing game since 2003. D.J. Adams had four short touchdown runs for the Terrapins, who finished 9-4 to give Friedgen a 75-50 mark in his decade at Maryland.
Dominique Davis completed 33 of 54 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for East Carolina (6-7), which scored a season-low in points and committed 15 penalties.
After the game, Maryland receiver Torrey Smith said he will enter the NFL draft.
The temperatures were in the mid-40s, a tolerable break from a mostly frozen December in the nation’s capital but nothing like from the balmier destinations Maryland expected after tying for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Bowl after bowl bypassed the Terrapins until they were chosen by the Military Bowl with the No. 8 ACC selection, a disappointment caused mainly by concerns about the waning fan base at College Park.
There were even concerns that Terrapins fans would be vastly outnumbered at RFK Stadium, only a few miles from campus, but red and purple appeared just about even among the 38,062, a record turnout for the three-year-old bowl.
Illinois 38, Baylor 14 — Mikel Leshoure ran for 184 yards and three touchdowns as the
Illinois spoiled Baylor’s first bowl appearance in 16 seasons. Both teams finished at 7-6.
Leshoure had a 5-yard TD run in the second quarter, a 13-yard score in the third quarter, and another 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. The performance gave him the school rushing record for a season with 1,697 yards.
The Illini built a 24-0 lead and Leshoure’s last touchdown put the game out of reach after Baylor cut the lead to 24-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Baylor’s Robert Griffin III threw for 306 yards and a touchdown.
Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10 — Justin Blackmon caught two touchdown passes, including a 71-yard strike, and the No. 16 Cowboys finished their first 11-win season by beating the Wildcats at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
Blackmon, the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top receiver, set an NCAA record with his 12th consecutive game with at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. The sophomore caught nine passes for 117 yards.
Brandon Weeden was 25 of 41 for 244 yards for Oklahoma State (11-2).
Arizona (7-6) ended the year with five straight losses.
Micah Hyde ran around, even behind the Missouri Tigers. Fill-in freshman Marcus Coker ran right over them.
Coker ran for 219 yards and two scores, and Hyde scored on a meandering 72-yard interception return in the fourth quarter to help Iowa (8-5) beat Missouri, 27-24, in the Insight Bowl Tuesday night in Tempe, Ariz.
Undermanned because of injuries and suspensions, Iowa (8-5) turned to Coker, who had 403 yards and touchdown as Adam Robinson’s backup during the regular season.
Missouri (10-3) had its way with Iowa’s once-stout defense most of the night, rolling up 512 yards.