N.C. State advances by going backward

September 13, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The North Carolina State defense ha been in retreat all afternoon.

It already had been on the field for some 37 minutes and a staggering number of plays. It already had surrendered more than 500 yards of Byrd Stadium real estate. It had bent at a 90-degree angle, but miraculously not splintered.

The Wolfpack had called time out with 19 seconds left and Maryland parked on State's 14-yard line.

In the huddle, State was trying to regroup against Maryland quarterback John Kaleo and the run-and-shoot offense.

"We said we were going to put pressure on Kaleo, go to man-to-man coverage, and whoever comes up with the big play is going to win the game," said Wolfpack strong safety Mike Reid.

Kaleo fumbled the snap on the first play and had to spike the ball to stop the clock on the second. Then, on Maryland's 105th play of the game, Reid deflected Kaleo's last-gasp pass for flanker Richie Harris at the 5.

With that bit of heroics, the big play had gone to Reid, the game to 19th-ranked North Carolina State (3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC). The Wolfpack's 14-10 victory was a study in defense on the backpedal.

Against Maryland's no-huddle offense, State had given up 233 net rushing yards and 268 net passing yards.

"But we did not give up a lot of points," coach Dick Sheridan said. "That's the key. I can't be more proud of the way we battled when they got in the scoring zone.

"When they got close to the goal line, we were able to come up with key plays."

Indeed, State had weathered Kaleo's 56-pass assault with big-play defense. There was Ricky Turner's interception on the Wolfpack 2-yard line late in the first half to snuff one Maryland drive.

There was Reid's interception at the Wolfpack 1 with 1:35 left in Maryland's next-to-last offensive series.

And there was Reid's deflection on the game's final play -- a play that was identical to his interception.

"That last play was an exceptional individual effort," Sheridan said. "Maryland executed well, [but] Mike adjusted and made a great play."

"We were in a blitz with man coverage," Reid said. "I was trying to take away the inside [route] and break to the corner."

It was State's first look at a run-and-shoot offense, and despite a good week of working against the scout team, Sheridan could appreciate the difference.

"No scout team can execute that offense as fast as they do," he said. "Everything was much quicker. But there wasn't anything we hadn't prepared for."

In the end, State's defense was on the field for 37 minutes and 45 seconds, during which it gave up 501 total yards and 28 first downs.

"It seemed like we were out there the whole time," Reid said. "But we're in good condition. Our defense expects to make big plays. We kept them out of the end zone [except for Maryland's third-quarter touchdown], and that's a great feat against that offense."

The Wolfpack relied on the big play on offense, too.

There was a 32-yard pass from quarterback Terry Jordan to fullback Greg Mainor that set up Anthony Barbour's 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

In the fourth quarter, after Maryland had struck for a 10-7 lead, the Wolfpack answered with a touchdown play it had put in just for this game. It was called "32 pass, X fly", and it became flanker Eddie Goines' only reception of the game.

Goines out-jumped cornerback Mike Lacy for a 38-yard touchdown on the play-action pass. He had two steps on Lacy as he raced down the field, but had to wait for Jordan's pass to arrive in the end zone.

"It wasn't one of T.J.'s better passes," Goines said, "but you all know T.J. can throw the ball well."

"It wasn't that great of a day for the offense. We weren't able to hit the passes we counted on, and they played the run a lot better than we thought.

"It was a real tough game . . . a lot tougher than we expected."

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