COLLEGE PARK -- Any chance the University of Maryland had of gaining national recognition in football will have to wait. The offense has to get better. The Terps have to find a No. 1 quarterback. And somehow, find a way to stop an option team for four quarters.
No. 22 Syracuse (2-0) brought its freeze option offense and harassing pass defense to Byrd Stadium last night, and, sparked by 10 fourth-quarter points, defeated Maryland, 31-17, last night before a crowd of 41,310.
Maryland (1-1) had received a number of votes in several national polls after beating Virginia last week, but the Terps shouldn't expect any more after last night.
Give the Terps some credit. Their defense played fairly well, well enough to win, but the offense was inconsistent, under both starter Jim Sandwisch and his replacement John Kaleo, who BTC finished with three interceptions after starting the second half.
But despite how badly Maryland's offense played, the Terps were still in the game until the final seven minutes. In fact, Syracuse place-kicker John Biskup's 43-yard field goal with 6:39 left -- completing a seven-play, 42-yard drive -- only left the Terps a touchdown behind, at 24-17.
Thirty-nine seconds later, however, Syracuse wide receiver Shelby Hill returned a punt 61 yards down the left sideline to seal the game for the Orangemen.
"Speed kills," said Maryland coach Joe Krivak. "They've got some great perimeter people and they put a lot of pressure on you. Offensively, we did some good things, but we sputtered a lot. We're disappointed by this loss, but not discouraged. This is the first time we have faced adversity, and now we've got to go on."
But who will lead the Terps next week against West Virginia? Sandwisch's tendinitis in his throwing arm was thought to be minor, even though he did not participate in Tuesday's practice last week. But Sandwisch, according to Krivak, had some problems last night after being hit several times early in the game.
Sandwisch, a senior who completed 14 of 25 passes for 87 yards, was replaced by junior John Kaleo, an All-America transfer from Montgomery College-Rockville, to start the second half. Kaleo, 5 feet 11, completed only eight of 19 passes for 83 yards and was intercepted three times. He also lost one fumble.
"My elbow and both shoulders hurt me before the game," said Sandwisch, who said he injured the elbow last week against Virginia. "But the shoulder loosened up during the game. I just couldn't get the ball out there on touch passes. The coach came in at halftime and asked me if I was hurt. I told him yes, but that I could still play. It was his decision to go with John. It's too early to tell if I will be ready next week."
Maryland had only 268 yards of total offense, compared with 362 for Syracuse. The Terps held Syracuse to 53 yards in the second half, but Maryland's offense kept faltering.
Kaleo, on the Terps' second possession of the third quarter, was intercepted in the end zone by linebacker John Lusardi for a touchdown with 8:55 left, giving Syracuse a 21-14 lead.
The touchdown was set up after Maryland took over at its 1-yard line following a 72-yard punt by Pat O'Neill. On third-and-five from the Maryland 6, Kaleo got pressure from left tackle George Rooks. Kaleo, rolling to his left in the end zone, tried to down the ball only to have it intercepted by a sliding Lusardi.
"It was an option to [H-back Frank] Wycheck, and I got pressure up the middle," said Kaleo. "The defensive man hit my leg while I was in the air. I tried to throw the ball into the ground and avoid the safety. I thought it hit the ground, but they said it was a fumble."
Krivak said: "I hope to God they're right [officials], because, if they weren't, I'm going to raise holy hell. A mistake like that shouldn't be made."
On the Terps' next possession, Maryland went from its 20 to the Syracuse 20 with the big play being an 18-yard pass from Kaleo to wide receiver Marcus Badgett. But on first-and-10, Troy Jackson fumbled and the Orangemen took possession at their 18.
But Syracuse returned the favor on the next play, this time Terry Richardson fumbling and Maryland cornerback Brandon Bertha recovering at the Syracuse 24 with 4:08 left in the third period.
Maryland, after a Jackson run for 1 yard and two incomplete passes, had to settle for a 40-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the third period, cutting Syracuse's lead to 21-17.
NOTES: Maryland injuries: HB Mark Mason (bruised shoulder), CB Scott Rosen, who did not play last night (pulled hamstring), CB Mike Thomas (mild concussion), HB Jackson (sprained ankle), S Ron Reagan (pinched nerve), QB Sandwisch (tendinitis in shoulder). All are expected to be further examined by trainer J.J. Bush today.