Terps D-feat W.Va., 24-13

September 18, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

MORGANTOWN, W. VA. — MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- These guys are going to be dangerous if they ever play a full game.

Mark Duffner got three solid quarters yesterday from the Maryland football team that didn't show up for its opener and led the defending national champions at the half in Week 2. The Terps spotted West Virginia a 10-point lead, then owned the last three quarters in a steady rain for a 24-13 non-conference win.

Duffner, who has been criticized in recent weeks on radio talk shows and by alumni, said the victory didn't carry any personal significance. But the fact remains that it was Maryland's first September success since he arrived in 1992. Maryland (1-2) will be favored to beat Wake Forest on Saturday and be .500 for the first time since 1990.

"It's a big win as long as we keep winning," said Jamie Bragg, the senior center who contributed to a new-look defense that allowed its fewest points in three seasons. "A lot of people have been doubting us, but we said at the beginning that we were capable of having a winning season. From that standpoint, it's a big win. Big win."

The pot will still be stirred, thanks to a quarterback controversy -- Kevin Foley replaced starter Scott Milanovich at the end of the first quarter and went the rest of the way -- which isn't fair to a

Maryland defense that bore little resemblance to the unit the Terps have sent on the field the past three years.

"I can't say enough about the job the defense turned in," Duffner said.

Actually, the hard numbers said enough. Led by superback Allen Williams, who'll never forget his 22nd birthday, the Maryland offense gained 491 yards against a defense that had held its past two opponents below 200.

But this game was won when the Mountaineers had the ball.

Forget, for a moment, that this West Virginia team is 1-3 and a great distance from the one that went to the Sugar Bowl last year, that the Mountaineers are nearly as far down the NCAA statistical rankings in offense as the Terps are on defense, and consider:

* It was the fewest number of points allowed by the Terps since the 1991 opener, a 17-6 win over Virginia that was only 35 games ago.

* West Virginia's 331 yards were the least allowed by the Terps since the second game of 1992.

West Virginia had two decent drives after the first quarter, when it gained 127 yards, but even those finished in psychological boosts for Maryland.

At the end of an 83-yard drive, the Mountaineers settled for a third-quarter field goal that allowed the Terps to take a 17-13 lead into the fourth quarter.

With five minutes to go, reserve linebacker Tim Brown ran Mountaineers quarterback Eric Boykin out of bounds a yard shy of the desired distance on fourth down at the Terps' 11-yard line.

West Virginia's hopes for a repeat of 1992's miracle comeback over Maryland and its first-ever four-game win streak in the series were done, and those in the Mountaineer Field crowd of 62,852 who hadn't left at the half headed for the gates.

"It's just a matter of guys competing as hard as they can for the entire game," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "The happiest thing about this is that it wasn't easy. We faced adversity early and had to throw in a lot of different people, but everyone kept battling."

The defense had a patchwork lineup. By the second quarter, injuries had taken the middle linebacker and strong safety, but heretofore unknown subs stepped in, and everyone hit like they were from the Big Ten. The line got added muscle from starting tackles Bragg and Pat Ward, whose days as offensive linemen probably are history.

"They had some big kids in on their defense," West Virginia coach Don Nehlen said, "and it helped them a lot."

The newfound toughness allowed the Maryland offense time to right itself after an extremely shaky start. Erik Greenstein, Bragg's replacement at center, and Milanovich had bad snaps and lost fumbles on the Terps' second and third possessions, and the record-setting quarterback was intercepted on Maryland's fourth possession.

The Terps' game plan had Foley due to replace Milanovich on Maryland's next possession, and when he moved the Terps 80 yards at the start of the second quarter for a touchdown, the redshirt sophomore was in for the longest stint of his career. Foley completed 24 of 37 for 287 yards and a touchdown, a 12-yarder to sophomore Geroy Simon in the corner that began Maryland's scoring.

Maryland even went to its third-team quarterback, and West Virginia never recovered after redshirt freshman Brian Cummings bootlegged 3 yards for a touchdown that put the Terps ahead to stay at 14-10 with 2:51 left in the half.

The constant in the Maryland attack was senior Williams, the junior-college transfer who ran for 163 yards, the most by a Terp in two years and an unexpected bounty for a unit that was averaging 33.5 yards rushing per game.

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