Terps blow 19-point lead, lose 3rd in row WVU rallies for 3 touchdowns in fourth for 34-33 victory

September 20, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

MORGANTOWN, W. VA. — MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- It was the kind of loss that can take the heart out of a team and destroy a season.

Maryland blew another one yesterday, allowing three fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a 34-33 loss to West Virginia before 55,727 at Mountaineer Field.

The Terps (0-3) had blown fourth-quarter leads in previous losses to Virginia and North Carolina State, but yesterday they had what appeared to be an insurmountable 33-14 lead against West Virgin ia with 14:48 left in the game.

Everything was in Maryland's favor. The Terps had momentum, their offense was playing well, and the Mountaineers (2-0-1) were playing with their No. 2 quarterback, Darren Studstill, who is more of an option runner than a thrower.

Instead, Studstill led fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 78, 73 and 55 yards. He completed them with touchdown passes of 10, 6 and 20 yards, the last one to running back Adrian Murrell in the left corner of the end zone for a 34-33 lead with 1:20 left.

Maryland got to the West Virginia 35, but John Kaleo overthrew wide receiver Marcus Badgett on a fourth-and-seven with 12 seconds left in the game.

As the Terps filed off the field, they walked in near silence to the dressing room, stunned by the Mountaineers' late rally.

"It was our game, our game to win," said John Kaleo, Maryland's starting quarterback. "This is a shame. Speechless, I'm speechless about this."

"Last week I was frustrated and disgusted; this week I'm hurt and ticked off because we let it slip away," said Dan Prunzik, a senior wide receiver. "We've got to bounce back. We've got to."

Surprisingly, Maryland first-year coach Mark Duffner was subdued. He had cried after the first two losses. This time he was poised and totally in control, but obviously irritated.

"We just need to learn how to finish teams off in the fourth period," said Duffner. "We still have to learn how to win. We won't leave one rock unturned until we overcome this. We've got to put people away in that final quarter."

After Murrell's last touchdown, Maryland still had a chance to win.

Murrell was called for excessive celebration when he threw the ball to his fraternity brothers in the stands, and West Virginia was hit with another 15-yard penalties after Murrell's spilled onto the field.

Maryland took one of the penalties on the conversion, forcing West Virginia to try for two points from 18 yards out. Studstill, looking to pass, stepped out of bounds.

The other penalty was assessed on the kickoff, forcing West Virginia to kick from its own 20.

Maryland fielded the ball at its 43 with 1:18 left. On fourth-and-two from the West Virginia 30 with 17 seconds remaining, Maryland sent out place-kicker Dave DeArmas to attempt a 47-yard field goal.

But West Virginia coach Don Nehlen called a timeout to freeze DeArmas, and when action resumed, the Terps lined up in their regular offense. Before the snap, Maryland left tackle Steve Ingram was called for illegal procedure when center Jade Dubis failed to hear the cadence because of the crowd noise.

Kaleo eventually ended the drive with his incomplete pass to Badgett, but it started a number of inquiries into why Duffner had not allowed DeArmas to attempt the field goal.

DeArmas, a redshirt freshman and former high school All-American, has made three of four field goals this year, including ones of 27 and 33 yards yesterday. But he has not attempted one longer than 39 yards this season.

"He sent me in, and I told him anything from within 50 was in my range," said DeArmas. "I was confident. But it was his decision and you have to go along with it."

Duffner said simply: "I met with our coaches, and we just thought our chances were better of making the first down."

Duffner seemed to be playing a winning hand all game. The Terps were in total control after three quarters: Maryland had 215 yards passing and 162 rushing, compared to 68 yards passing and 153 rushing for West Virginia.

West Virginia used six defensive backs to try to control Maryland's run-and-shoot, no-huddle offense, but to no avail. Maryland had a 17-14 lead at the half, and the Terps dominated the third period.

With West Virginia's defense spread out, Maryland pounded the Mountaineers with the inside rushing of superback Mark Mason (167 yards rushing) and the dink passes of Kaleo (22-for-41 for 254 yards and two touchdowns).

DeArmas kicked a 33-yard field goal to finish an eight-play, 60-yard drive with 7:43 left in the third period and Mason, running through three players, scored on a 20-yard run off right tackle with 2:11 remaining to put Maryland ahead 27-14.

The Terps kicked and recovered an onside kick on their own 45, and seven plays later, Kaleo passed to Badgett for a 12-yard touchdown on a flag pattern. Twelve seconds into the fourth quarter, Maryland led 33-14.

"Right then, I thought we had all the momentum," said Duffner.

He was wrong.

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