Fired-up Terps go out with a big bang, 53-23 Clemson's bowl hopes, defense are left in dust

November 15, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- One week after suffering one of the most humiliating defeats in school history, Maryland turned in its most inspiring and complete game in the season finale as the Terps defeated Clemson, 53-23, at Byrd Stadium yesterday before a crowd of 25,223.

This is no misprint. It was a Maryland blowout.

The highly motivated Terps (3-8 overall, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), spurred on by their 28 seniors playing their last game and a 69-21 loss to Florida State last Saturday, embarrassed Clemson (5-5, 3-5) and ruined the Tigers' chances of going to an eighth straight bowl.

The Tigers had to finish with a winning record against Division I-A teams to be in consideration for a bowl bid. That meant they had to beat Maryland and their final opponent, South Carolina.

Say goodbye to a possible berth in the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl.

"Don't play us for dead," said Mike Jarmolowich, Maryland's senior linebacker who was in uniform five hours before yesterday's game. "We showed a lot of pride after getting embarrassed last week.

"We had a lot of guys on defense flying around out there, a lot of guys having fun. We knew we could beat them. They got frustrated. They were planning for a bowl bid and we ruined it. That's kind of cool."

Senior defensive tackle Darren Drozdov said: "I have had only one winning season here in five years, so all I wanted to do was go out a winner. And we win by 30 points, against Clemson, a team that has run up the score on us in the past. This is great. Unbelievable."

There was a lot of trash talking by the Terps yesterday, but who could blame them?

They ran up a season-high 573 yards against the best defense in the ACC, including a school record of 418 passing by quarterback John Kaleo. The passing combination of Kaleo to Marcus Badgett gave Terps fans one more show as they combined for nine receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Maryland also scored on a "fumblerooski" to guard Ron Staffileno and on a fourth-and-17 pass for a touchdown to senior Dan Prunzik.

Even the secondary played well, knocking down five passes and not giving up the big play. Maryland had a 46-23 lead with 10:05 left in the game, and scored on a Richie Harris touchdown pass in the remaining time to give Maryland its first victory over the Tigers since 1985.

"When you get beat on offense, defense and coaching, it is a total, complete wipeout," said Clemson coach Ken Hatfield, whose job was already rumored to be in jeopardy. "Last week's Florida State game made Maryland so mad that they came out here at home and did whatever they wanted to do."

Actually, Maryland became even more inspired Friday night. That's when Maryland coach Mark Duffner showed a highlight film of all the seniors, and each senior gave a little speech to the team on what Maryland football meant to them.

"It was real emotional," said Maryland senior cornerback Scott Rosen. "Big guys were crying. Little guys were crying. You could feel the excitement in the locker room today. Guys couldn't wait to get out there and stick somebody."

Clemson came into the game with the nation's fourth-best rushing offense, averaging 275.2 yards. The Tigers left with only 120 yards rushing, one touchdown and five field goals by Nelson Welch.

But part of Clemson's lack of a running attack has to be blamed on the Tigers' coaching staff. They came out throwing, trying to challenge Maryland's secondary, which was allowing an average 321 yards passing a game.

But Clemson quarterback Patrick Sapp was only 25 of 55 for 273 yards. One pass was intercepted by Rosen to set up a Terps touchdown.

"We wanted them to come out throwing," said Rosen. "We got our butts kicked so bad against Florida State that we wanted to avenge ourselves. I think we did."

While Clemson was getting most of its scoring from Welch, the Terps were shredding the Tigers' secondary. Kaleo was TTC throwing high in the Terps' first two series of the game, but on Maryland's third possession he threw a 26-yard pass to Jermaine Lewis, and using the runs of superback Frank Wycheck (162 yards rushing), got the Terps down to the 1-yard line. Then with 11:20 left in the half, Wycheck dove over from there to give Maryland a 7-6 lead.

Maryland scored on its next two possessions. Lewis caught a 24-yardpass across the middle, and turned it into a 69-yard touchdown. Then with 4:03 left in the half, Kaleo underthrew Badgett in the left corner of the end zone, but Badgett still managed to make the catch over Clemson defensive back Norris Brown for the touchdown that put Maryland ahead, 20-3. Welch connected on a 32-yard field goal with three seconds left to cut Maryland's lead to 20-12 at the half.

Most teams that had been burned by Maryland's run-and-shoot offense in the first half changed their scheme in the second. Not Clemson. The Tigers stayed with a three-man rush. Maryland kept toasting their secondary.

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