For Maryland's defense, defeat is shades of 1993

November 07, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

It was just like the bad old days -- of 1993.

A year ago, Maryland set numerous offensive records, but none mattered because the defense stumbled to an NCAA record for yards allowed and the Terps went 2-9.

The defense had shown gradual improvement during a six-game stretch this season in which the Terps went 4-2, but it reverted to acquiescence and arm-tackling Saturday night at Byrd Stadium. The result was a crushing 47-45 loss in the last minute to North Carolina State that negated a marvelous show by the Maryland offense in general and junior quarterback Scott Milanovich in particular.

It was the highest-scoring game at Maryland, and the most points the Terps scored in a loss. Instead of adding to its best record since 1990 and proving it was an up-and-coming member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland (4-5, 2-5) was devastated by a defeat that put a large dent in any hope the Terps had for a winning season. They finish at No. 21 Virginia and No. 14 Syracuse, and go into those spoiler games off a painful reminder that it's impossible to win if you can't stop the opposition.

"We [the defense] just came up short play after play," third-year coach Mark Duffner said. "If we had just executed on this play or that play, it would have been different, but we didn't. Our guys hurt, but staying hurt is not going to help the situation."

With Milanovich throwing for 332 yards and five touchdowns, Maryland forged leads of 7-3, 28-21, 31-28, 38-35 and 45-44, but none lasted long. The Wolfpack offense, rated sixth among the ACC's nine teams, scored every time it was in, and Steve Videtich's 35-yard field goal with six seconds left was the final and decisive blow against a defense that allowed 560 yards.

It raised Maryland's yards-allowed average to 464.5 yards per game. Whether it was a dive, a pitch out of the option or a play-action pass by Terry Harvey, the Terps were unable to even slow the Wolfpack.

The Terps felt they could beat N.C. State if they didn't turn the ball over, but even that wasn't enough, as Milanovich stretched his streak of passes without an interception to 148 and the offense never fumbled.

Twelve of Milanovich's 32 completions were high-percentage passes to superbacks, but he also thrived on longer routes against the nation's ninth-rated defense. On fourth-and-10 at the Wolfpack 31 with 3:27 to go, he connected with Mancel Johnson for 17 yards, and they hooked up again two plays later to give Maryland its final lead.

"That may be the best Milanovich has ever played for us," Duffner said.

In four games since regaining the starting position he lost in Week 3, Milanovich has completed 74.3 percent of his passes, 101 of 136, for 1,094 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Senior superback Allen Williams has been another key to Maryland's revived offense. He carried 15 times for 88 yards, giving him 614 for the season, and turned 10 receptions into another 75 yards.

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