Maryland desperate to get on the board Bowl berth on the line at N.C. State today

November 04, 1995|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Before Maryland can get in a bowl game, it is going to have to get in the end zone.

It has been three games and four weeks since the Terps scored, but despite the program's worst point drought in 28 years, Maryland still can grab the Atlantic Coast Conference's third or fourth bowl berth if it awakens from its offensive slumber and wins at North Carolina State today.

Maryland, which has scored 12 points during a 1-3 slide that followed a 4-0 start, still can claim its first winning season and bowl bid in five years, but time is running out. The Terps finish at Virginia and Florida State, the two toughest teams on their schedule.

Should the Terps' offensive troubles continue in Raleigh, N.C., they're looking at the strong possibility of ending the season with five straight losses, and renewed questions about the security of coach Mark Duffner, who is in the fourth year of a five-year contract.

Maryland (5-3, 3-2) faced what it considered must-win situations against Clemson and Louisville the past two weeks, and failed both tests miserably, suffering consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1969. They allowed Louisville three touchdowns in the last 12 minutes of a 31-0 loss, and Duffner didn't totally deny that his team quit.

"I think they got worn down," Duffner said. "Their frustration got stronger, but I'm very concerned about the fact that we had a letdown."

Duffner has told his players to relax, but there was a different message Sunday, when the Terps practiced in pads the day after a game for the first time during his coaching tenure in College Park. He believed they had left something on the field at Louisville.

N.C. State (2-5, 1-3) has one of the worst defenses in the ACC and won't go to a bowl for the first time in eight seasons, but the caliber of the opposition has had little to do with Maryland's offensive slump. Most of the problems have been self-induced, stemming from a young offensive line and instability at quarterback.

Scott Milanovich, benched in the second quarter of a 9-6 win at Wake Forest on Oct. 7, will get his third start at quarterback after serving a four-game gambling suspension. Brian Cummings, who figured in all of Maryland's wins, is nursing a bruised shoulder and practiced sparingly this week.

Quarterback also is a question mark for N.C. State, which will start redshirt freshman Jose Laureano in place of senior Terry Harvey, who is recovering from a sprained neck he suffered in a 41-38 win at Duke two weeks ago. The Wolfpack was off last week, and it will be making its first appearance at Carter-Finley Stadium since Sept. 30.

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