COLLEGE PARK -- Two years after the Orioles' Cal Ripken began what has become known as The Streak, a placekicker named Jess Atkinson initiated one for Maryland.
In 1984, Atkinson finished the season by kicking 13 consecutive extra points, launching a streak that remains intact to this day.
If Dan DeArmas gets the opportunity to attempt an extra point against No. 6 Michigan Saturday, and converts it, it will stretch the Terps' Atlantic Coast Conference-record string to 150.
Four kickers have had a foot in the streak. Ramon Peredes came after Atkinson in 1985 with 13-for-13, followed over three-plus seasons by Dan Plocki with 92 without a miss. DeArmas took the baton last year and has contributed 31 to the string.
DeArmas doesn't let the streak dominate his mind. He doesn't even like to allow it to enter his mind.
"I don't like to think it's important," DeArmas said. "I don't look at it as a streak, but as every point counts. Like, if I don't make it, it could cost us the game. It would take away from my concentration if I thought of it only as a streak."
A junior from Adelphi, the left-footed DeArmas is in his third season as Maryland's punter and second as field goal and extra-point kicker.
Until last Saturday, the biggest kick of his career was the 26-yard field goal last year at Memorial Stadium that enabled Maryland to tie Penn State, 13-13. That kick came with 58 seconds remaining and helped the Terps avoid losing to the Nittany Lions for the first time since 1961.
But his kick against North Carolina State ranks higher in his mind. The 25-yarder with 11 seconds left gave the Terps a 13-12 victory over the Wolfpack and raised their record to 3-1.
"This was definitely bigger," DeArmas said. "Fans at the Penn State game weren't too happy with the tie. I could sense it at the time."
The game-winner against N.C. State made DeArmas 5-for-8 in field goals for the season. Two of the misses still rankle him -- a 47-yard attempt that was wide in the 18-17 loss to Clemson and a 43-yard try that was short against N.C. State.
"The one against Clemson was straight down the middle, but a wind kicked up," DeArmas said. "I didn't adjust. The miss Saturday really disappointed me. I didn't make good contact."
When DeArmas was at Columbus High in Miami, he was helped with his kicking by Fuad Reveiz, then with the Dolphins, now with the San Diego Chargers. Named to the All-Florida prep second team, he became a rarity at Maryland -- a kicker who arrived on campus with a scholarship in hand.
"Most kickers walk on," coach Joe Krivak said. "Atkinson did. It's not wise to give a kicker a scholarship because if he can't kick, you're stuck."
But the Terps were in a bind. Plocki, a placekicker but not a punter, had only a year left. More important, Krivak needed a punter immediately because the one he had was an academic risk.
DeArmas got off a 55-yard punt in the 1988 opener and went on to have a prosperous season. Seven times he dropped punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
A year after he arrived here, his family followed. His father, Dan, after 24 years with Eastern Airlines as a mechanic, became concerned about the company's stability after a strike and got a job with Dowty Aerospace in Sterling, Va.
The family settled in Adelphi to be close to Maryland and to DeMatha High. Dan's brother, Dave, is a senior at DeMatha and a kicker of some repute.
"My parents picked DeMatha first and then found a home near it," DeArmas said. "My brother may be the highest recruited kicker in the country. He's had offers, a lot. I mean a lot. Serious. Constant calls and mail. Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Maryland, Pitt, N.C. State, Tennesssee."
Dave DeArmas hasn't made a decision. His brother says "he knows Miami and Maryland best." It could be that the DeArmas string will continue well into the mid-1990s.
Linebacker Archie Clark, a freshman from Oakland Mills High, underwent surgery yesterday to reconstruct the interior cruciate ligament of his left knee. Clark, who is out for the season, is expected back for spring practice.