COLLEGE PARK -- State comptroller Louis L. Goldstein was in the press box, talking about how he helped raise money to build Byrd Stadium and Cole Field House. Prince George's County executive Parris N. Glendening was reminiscing about the old days at the University of Maryland when he was an instructor. Representative Tom McMillen and Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., president of the state senate, were here, too.
They came out to see the $13.2 million facelift to Byrd Stadium that included new seats, a huge concession area and a five-story press box, and, along the way, possibly catch a look at the 1991 Maryland football team.
And, hey, the debut wasn't that bad. Maryland's defense was great, its running backs outstanding, the offense kept the turnovers low and punter Dan DeArmas kept the opposition pinned down.
Final score: Maryland 17, Virginia 6, in the season and Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both yesterday.
"Hey, we were up there celebrating the opening of the press box last night, hobnobbing with all those VIPs," said Maryland center Mitch Suplee, one of the team's tri-captains. "They want the same thing we want, a quality program and a quality team. We were a little nervous at first, and everybody has the first-game jitters. But we're glad to get this one over and get off to a good start."
It was a festive mood for the 36,198 who attended the game, but no one was more charitable than Virginia. A year ago, the Cavaliers were fourth in the nation in scoring and total offense, but that was with Shawn Moore at quarterback and Herman Moore at wide receiver, both of whom are in the NFL.
Yesterday, Virginia lost four of six fumbles, including three that stopped possible scoring drives and two that led to 14 points for Maryland. And, as for team speed, the Cavaliers were outrun and out-hustled by a bunch of Terps who held the Cavaliers' heralded running game to 120 yards.
Virginia senior quarterback Matt Blundin completed 17 of 36 passes 226 yards and was sacked twice and hurried countless other times. The Cavaliers could muster only a 20-yard field goal in the second period and a 22-yarder in the fourth from Michael Husted.
"I don't know if we were nervous, lacked concentration or tired," said Virginia coach George Welsh. "The big difference today was turnovers. It was a disappointing part for me."
Maryland head coach Joe Krivak saw it another way.
"I don't think it was much different from what we talked about in preseason," said Krivak. "We thought the defense would be pretty good, and we played good, tough defense. That's the way we have to play -- good defense, don't-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot offense and have a good kicking game. I think coach Greg Williams [defensive coordinator] and his staff put together a pretty good game plan."
Here's what the Terps did: Instead of starting in their base 5-2 defense, Maryland used a four-man line to stop Virginia halfbacks Terry Kirby (73 yards rushing) and Nikki Fisher (9). Later in the game, the Terps would play almost a goal-line defense trying to make Virginia pass. They also ran a number of blitzes from the secondary.
"We wanted to stop the run and make them pass to beat us," said Maryland inside linebacker Mike Jarmolowich. "Well, we stopped the run, and they couldn't beat us with the pass."
Maryland's defensive players may sound a little cocky, but after yesterday's performance, they deserved to. Free safety Bill Inge hit fullback Dave Sweeney, causing a fumble that Jarmolowich recovered at the Maryland 30 with 7 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first quarter.
And it was Jarmolowich again who recovered Blundin's fumble at the Maryland 12 on a hit by linebacker Louis Johnson with 11:30 left in the third period and Maryland ahead, 10-3.
Maryland had three other big defensive plays -- a fumble recovery at its 39 by nose guard Ralph Orta with 5:41 left in the game, another by defensive lineman Derek Steele nearly
four minutes later and outside linebacker Greg Hines' forcing fullback Gary Steele out of bounds after a 1-yard gain on a fourth-and-two at the Virginia 46 with 3:34 left to play.
Terps defensive heroes? Linemen Larry Webster, Lubo Zizakovic, Orta and Darren Drozdov, who controlled the line. And linebackers Jarmolowich (nine tackles), Johnson (10) and Goode six).
"We're pretty experienced up front. You're not going to see too many teams that run against us," said Zizakovic. "In practice, we're always trying to force turnovers, and that usually makes a difference in a game."
"Every time our defense hit Blundin pretty good, he would cough up the football," said Zizakovic. "I think he has [Mark] Rypien's disease, that quarterback from the Redskins, fumblitis. They're going to have to correct that down the road."