COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Sometimes the happy beginning goes the other way. That's all you could say as Maryland's Cameron Chism intercepted a pass in front of Al Golden on the Miami sideline and started running.
He ran by Golden, ran by Miami's bench, ran by Miami alums and Baltimore Ravens stars Ed Reed and Ray Lewis who had been coaching up players, and kept running 54 yards for a touchdown that ended realistic hopes for a Hurricanes victory Monday night.
All game long, Miami battled in this 32-24 loss. It battled without eight suspended players, battled rain that was tough on both sides, battled falling behind early, perhaps even battled to adjust to Maryland's flashy new uniforms.
There's one goal of any new coach in any first game: To show something has improved. And this game presented a perfect chance to do that beyond the suits every Hurricanes player wore for the plane ride.
Trailing 23-21 after three quarters, Golden called his full team around him on the sideline and threw down that challenge of change. Miami had lost all six games it trailed entering the fourth quarter last year. What better way to put his imprint on this program than here?
Miami went up 24-23 on Jake Wieclaw's 30-yard field goal with just more than four minutes left (his first collegiate attempt), but Maryland returned with a short field goal to take the lead. Then Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw a desperate sideline pass on fourth down that Chism picked off to score with 39 seconds left. A failed extra point gave Miami one final faint chance, trailing by eight, but it didn't get close to the end zone.
That was that. The game. The comeback. The chance to show how it all has changed overnight.
"We had enough talent to win. We just didn't do it," Golden said. "You make that many mistakes, you can't win."
Morris completed 19-of-28 for 195 yards and two interceptions. And he led UM on a could-be winning drive for the field goal. Jacory Harris returns from a one-game suspension and it will be interesting to see what Golden does.
Of course, the five missing defensive starters were missed more than Harris against Maryland. Miami struggled to stop a Maryland offense that was addicted to the bubble screen.
Maryland had first-half drives of 79, 70, 62 and 72 yards. And it scored just 13 points. But with Miami up 14-13, a Mike James fumble popped into air in the closing minute of the first half.
The ball popped into the hands of Terps defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who ran 30 yards for a touchdown and 20-14 halftime lead.
"We had enough players on this trip to win this game," Golden said. "But you can't give up that many yards (Maryland totaled 499), no matter who is in the game."
As for Miami's first-game problems, well, there were some, such as back-to-back delay of game penalties. So there are some things to clean up.
Miami finishing 117th in penalties last year was one of the things Golden wanted to correct. It finished 119th in turnovers and had three turnovers on Monday.
Drenched by the rain and frustrated by losing, Golden moved to midfield to shake hands with Maryland's Randy Edsall, the one to earn the first-game win.
Sometimes the happy ending goes to the other side.