When 'D' means only depressing

November 06, 1994|By KEN ROSENTHAL

COLLEGE PARK -- Defense. Did someone say defense? Can anyone play defense? Can anyone spell it, much less define it, at Maryland?

The final totals for North Carolina State -- eight possessions, eight scores, a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown, a 47-45 victory.

Maryland allowed 560 yards in the biggest game of the Mark Duffner Era, at home, under the lights, with a crowd of 27,126 ready to tear down the goal posts.

Maryland allowed five touchdowns, four field goals and a two-point conversion, on a night it was supposed to make a glorious stand.

One stop, that was all the Terps needed. One stop for their first three-game winning streak since 1986. One stop for the season to be considered a smashing success.

One stop, in the final 2:19, to protect a one-point lead. No chance. State raced down the field one last time, the clock its only obstacle.

With six seconds left, Steve Videtich kicked a 35-yard field goal, atoning for an earlier missed extra point, and leaving so much scorched earth at Byrd Stadium.

Eight possessions, eight scores.

Maryland fans should be reveling in the magnificence of quarterback Scott Milanovich this morning. Instead, they're wondering if the first letter in Duffner's last name is really "D."

How do you lose when Milanovich completes 32 of 37 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns? How do you lose when you roll up 470 yards against the nation's ninth-ranked defense?

"This one hurts," running back Allen Williams said, bowing his head, seemingly fighting back tears.

Hurts?

It sears.

Maryland is 4-5, but the teams it has beaten -- West Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Tulane -- are a combined 8-27.

Last night's game was an opportunity to defeat a team that was ranked in the Top 25 earlier this season, a team that could be headed to its seventh straight bowl game.

And the Terps collapsed.

This being a society of victims, we wouldn't dare make fun of the Maryland defense -- excuse us, the defensive impaired.

Frankly, both defenses stunk.

Heck, Maryland punted only twice.

This game was like the CFL on speed. And to think, the teams combined for 62 first downs, 92 points and 1,030 yards without the benefit of a wider field.

Every back was Barry Sanders. Every receiver was Jerry Rice. And every defender was nicknamed "Toast."

The special teams were a riot, too.

In a span of 10 minutes, Maryland recorded its first touchdown off a kick return in 13 years -- only to see State respond with its first such TD in 32 years.

Tackling?

It was strictly optional.

Someone lock the defensive coordinators in a rubber room. The game films should not be viewed without parental consent.

"We just had trouble stopping everything," Duffner said. "You saw the same game I did. They couldn't stop us. We couldn't stop them. Whoever had the ball last. . . . "

Right.

The Terps had the worst defense in Division I history last season, but all that was supposedly past. Now, it's again fair to ask how close this team is to respectability.

The answer: Not very.

The Terps had given up only 111 points in their past six games after allowing 101 in their first two. But that wasn't Tulane they were facing last night. And their defense was ranked only 98th out of 107 Division I-A teams to begin with.

State isn't exactly high-powered, but it ran a play-action attack that gave Maryland fits. It was the second time this season the Terps failed to stop an opponent. It also happened against North Carolina.

"I really don't know what went wrong," defensive tackle Jamie Bragg said. "They didn't run anything different. It just turned into a shootout. We didn't step up and make the plays."

State was an astounding 7-for-11 on third-down conversions. It also rushed for a whopping 327 yards and managed 47 points without a single passing touchdown.

Videtich missed his extra point after the Wolfpack scored with 8:10 left to break a 38-38 tie.

Evidently, he was exhausted.

Now, the Terps must finish their season at No. 13 Virginia and No. 10 Syracuse. Last week, they fantasized about going to a bowl. Now, they're looking at 4-7.

An improvement, yes.

But one stop was all the Terps needed.

One stop, and they couldn't get it done.

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