Point-counterpoint: Terps fall short,42-37

September 19, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK - The margin of defeat grew smaller for Maryland last night, but two Terps touchdowns in the final eight minutes only served to heighten their frustration in a 42-37 loss to West Virginia before 42,008 at Byrd Stadium.

The Mountaineers built a 19-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but needed to control an onside kick and run out the clock to subdue the Terps. Maryland, which once again rode the sophomore passing combination of quarterback Scott Milanovich and wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, helped itself by recovering four West Virginia fumbles.

Milanovich engineered the two late touchdowns and -- despite the score -- the Terps' defense at times didn't look like the worst-rated in the NCAA. But in the end it was another loss and an 0-3 start to coach Mark Duffner's second season.

West Virginia was led in the 3-hour, 43-minute marathon by sophomore tailback Robert Walker. He carried 26 times for 151 yards but lost three fumbles. For the second straight week, Maryland's defense let a quarterback have a career day, as senior Jake Kelchner completed 15 of 19 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Milanovich, meanwhile, compiled big numbers for the second straight game. He broke his week-old Maryland record with 35 completions and again tied a Terps mark with five touchdown passes. He threw for 451 yards, bettering the mark set last year by John Kaleo.

Lewis was again his favorite target, turning six catches into 145 yards. His three touchdown receptions tied another school record.

Maryland out-gained West Virginia, 558 yards to 542. Th Mountaineers had 361 yards by halftime, and Duffner was encouraged by the some of the Terps' defensive work in the second half.

"In the first half, people were out of position like they were in the first two games," said inside linebacker Ratcliff Thomas, one of five defensive starters who are in their first year of NCAA football. "In the second half, we locked down on them. It's a loss, but it's not like the first two. It wasn't a blowout."

Maryland appeared to be finished when West Virginia converted an interception into a touchdown and a 42-23 lead with less than nine minutes to play, but the Terps rallied to make it close.

They drove 68 yards to get within 42-30. Senior superback Mark Mason, who rushed for 76 yards and caught six passes for 77, turned a swing pass into a 22-yard gain, and Lewis made a fine catch for a 35-yard touchdown reception with 7:49 remaining.

Maryland's defense stopped West Virginia for the fifth time in the second half when linebacker Chad Wiestling stripped Walker and strong safety Raphael Wall recovered on the Mountaineers' 31 with 3:16 left. Five plays later, Milanovich got his fifth and final touchdown pass, going 5 yards to Jason Kremus with 2:47 left.

The Terps were within a touchdown of the lead and had all three of their timeouts remaining. Rather than test their defense one more time, Maryland opted for an onside kick, which bounced off one of the Mountaineers and out of bounds. Aided by a holding penalty on Gene Green on third down, West Virginia ran out the clock to improve to 2-0.

The Terps were also down by only five points after they scored on their first possession of the third quarter. Milanovich was at his best on a nine-play, 63-yard drive, which ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Geroy Simon.

On their next three possessions, however, the Terps punted twice and Milanovich was intercepted. He went back to Lewis on second-down play from their own 41, but the ball popped off of Lewis' pads to cornerback Harold Kidd, who returned to the Terps' 35. Six plays later, the Mountaineers made it 42-23 on Jimmy Gary's 7-yard touchdown run with 8:51 left.

The Terps' defense gave some reason for optimism with its second-half play, but it struggled again in the first half. For the second straight week, the Terps' defense allowed four touchdowns in the first 24 minutes, but Maryland was grateful to be behind by only 28-17, as the Mountaineers lost three fumbles. The first two led to 10 of the Terps' points, and the last stopped a West Virginia drive that had reached the Maryland 20-yard line with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Mountaineers' touchdown drives in the first half covered 77, 65, 82 and 80 yards.

Walker went six yards over the left side to complete a long scoring drive on the Mountaineers' first possession, but Maryland needed just 17 seconds to answer. Milanovich went down the left sideline on first down for an 80-yard bomb to Lewis.

Three plays later, Walker lost possession after a 24-yard gain, and freshman cornerback Orlando Strozier recovered his third fumble of the season. Maryland moved to the West Virginia 8, but it could move no further and Ken Lytle made his first college field goal, a 25-yarder.

It gave the Terps a 10-7 lead with 2:09 left in first quarter, but they wouldn't be on top for long. West Virginia rolled through Maryland for three straight touchdowns.

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