Maryland defense no treat Means, N. Carolina sink Terps, 31-24

November 01, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland had its own Halloween trick yesterday. The Terps dressed up 11 players and tried to masquerade as a defense.

But North Carolina tailback Natrone Means had 249 yards rushing on 31 attempts, including touchdown runs of 27 and 76 yards. The Tar Heels had 523 yards of total offense. And North Carolina had passing plays of 42, 28, 28 and 22 yards.

By the time North Carolina was finished, even some of the Terps were wondering if their real defense had showed up.

Final score: North Carolina 31, Maryland 24 before a Byrd Stadium crowd of 22,099.

"We made some plays, but there were times we didn't get the proper alignment or missed assignments," said Maryland senior strong safety Scott Rosen. "You can't stuff a team on first down, stuff a team on second down and then let them blow you away on third down."

It was a courageous effort by Maryland (2-7 overall, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), which lost starting superback Doug Burnett with a sprained left knee knee with 12:58 left in the second period, and wide receiver Marcus Badgett with a sprained right ankle nearly 12 minutes later. Neither played the rest of the game, but both are expected to play Saturday against Florida State.

Maryland's offense, rallying behind sixth-string superback Frank Wycheck, who had 102 yards rushing on 19 carries, played well enough to win.

The defense, though, was a different matter. Maryland again was victimized by big plays, most of those from Means.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Means, with the 30-inch thighs, was unstoppable up the middle and on the perimeter. His strength caused Maryland's defense to wear down in the fourth period when he became a one-man, ball-control offense with 86 yards rushing.

Even when Means didn't make a big play, he set one up. With 4:10 remaining and the game tied 24-24, Means took a handoff right only to hand off back to flanker Randall Felton, who ran

around left end untouched for the game-winning 12-yard touchdown.

Maryland could only advance as far as its own 34 in three plays on its final possession.

"Natrone Means is one of the best backs in the country. He gets better each week," said North Carolina coach Mack Brown. "He is the best back in the country, without doubt, in the fourth quarter. He killed the clock again. He's unbelievable at breaking tackles as the game goes on. He might have been as good today as he's been."

Maryland players agreed.

"Hey, let's face it, that guy's an All-American," said inside linebacker Mike Jarmolowich. "He's great at making people miss tackles. They did a great job of collapsing us and getting him outside."

Means, who now has 1,128 yards for his second straight 1,000-yard season, scored on a 27-yard option run around left end on fourth-and-two for a 7-0 Tar Heels lead with 9:23 left in the first quarter.

And then there was the 76-yard touchdown run in the third period. It was vintage Means, and also showed one of Maryland's biggest weaknesses on defense. The play came right after Maryland quarterback John Kaleo's pass intended for Jermaine Lewis was intercepted and returned to the North Carolina 24.

Means took a pitch right and had no place to go. He reversed field to the left, broke two tackles and then outraced Maryland's secondary to the left sideline. He then broke an other tackle at the 14 and then tightroped the sideline for a touchdown that tied the score 21-21 with 9:09 remaining.

"He just showed his big-play ability there," said Maryland coach Mark Duffner.

There was more to it.

"Eventually, Coach Duffner is going to turn around this program, but not until we get the players needed," said Jarmolowich, who said the biggest play of the game may have been a 28-yard reception to tight end Greg DeLong on a third-and-12 from the North Carolina 35 with about six minutes left in the game to set up Felton's reverse. "They're going to need players with more speed and size that can give us depth."

The Terps need some immediate help in the secondary. The group was burned several times again yesterday.

Maryland was in its conga offense (one, two, three, punt) for most of the first two quarters, but scored on its last two drives of the half.

Kaleo's 2-yard sneak finished a seven-play, 49-yard drive that tied the score 7-7 with 4:57 left to play. Maryland went ahead 14-7 on a 20-yard touchdown run by Wycheck with 46 seconds remaining as the Terps had a nine-play, 80-yard drive.

But in the remaining time, North Carolina substituted Jason Stanicek, more of a thrower, at quarterback for the option-minded Mike Thomas.

Stanicek ran on first down for 18 yards. He passed over the middle to Felton for 22 more. After an incompletion, Stanicek threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Jerry down the left sideline to tie the score 14-14 at the half.

"They ran twins to the left, and did what we call a switching route," said Duffner. "He hit the outside man for a touchdown. No one picked him up. We blew an assignment."

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