Scare is a fair warning to Terps First-game victory over Northern Illinois was not pretty sight

September 02, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Maryland's first two games were expected to be blowouts, but the Terps began with a scare from Northern Illinois, and the fight against complacency was furthered by Alabama-Birmingham's debut in Division I-A.

When the Terps fell behind 6-3 at the half Saturday, it appeared that they had taken Northern Illinois lightly, but the defense turned the game around and Maryland rolled to a 30-6 victory. Next up is Alabama-Birmingham, a team that showed it doesn't plan to be a pushover.

UAB played before 80,645 fans at Auburn, and kept the 16th-ranked Tigers out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Auburn finally won, 29-0, and the 15-0 score after three quarters is going to be pounded home at the football house in College Park this week.

Maryland was not sharp at the start against Northern Illinois, a 23-point underdog.

"In the beginning, in the back of our minds, guys were expecting too much of themselves," Terps quarterback Brian Cummings said. "People thought that we were way better than this team, and they wanted more. . . . We're going to learn from the film, because there's a lot to correct. That's something you're going to expect on opening night."

Defensively, the Terps were surprised by the option offerings of Northern Illinois. Still, the six points matched the fewest allowed by a Mark Duffner-coached team, and a pair of fumble recoveries by linemen Eric Ogbogu and Delbert Cowsette led to Maryland's first nine points.

Cowsette's 49-yard return was the first touchdown by the defense in two years.

The offense was kept out of the end zone in the game's first 44 minutes, but after Cowsette's ramble, the Terps got to the line quicker and had three sharp touchdown drives. They would have had a fourth, but a 34-yard run by Clifton Crosby in the final minute was called back by a holding penalty.

While the running game came alive and gained 274 yards, the most by Maryland in six years, the passing game out of a multiple offense wasn't sharp. The Terps' only turnover came when Cummings threw into double coverage, but his efficiency rating was also the victim of at least two drops and some imprecise routes.

Duffner rested running back Buddy Rodgers in the first half, and linebacker Ratcliff Thomas missed the game with a dislocated shoulder and may be held out of the UAB game. Defensive tackles Johnnie Hicks (cramps) and Ramon Olivares (ankle sprain) and end Eric Hicks (knee sprain) also missed parts of the game.

The defensive line's depth further was tested by the absence of Anthony Jenkins, whose academic status is on NCAA review.

AP Top 25 poll

+

No. School Record Pts Pvs

1. Nebr. (49) 0-0-0 1,642 1

2. Tenn. (8) 1-0-0 1,566 2

3. Fla. St. (5) 0-0-0 1,516 3

4. Florida (1) 1-0-0 1,484 4

5. Colorado (3) 1-0-0 1,405 5

6. N.Dame (1) 0-0-0 1,311 6

7. Penn St. 1-0-0 1,266 7

8. Texas 1-0-0 1,128 8

9. Syracuse 0-0-0 1,062 10

10. Ohio St. 0-0-0 1,036 9

11. Miami 1-0-0 923 11

12. Michigan 1-0-0 845 12

13. N'western 0-0-0 663 15

14. Alabama 1-0-0 660 13

15. Va. Tech 0-0-0 625 14

16. BYU 2-0-0 589 19

17. LSU 0-0-0 538 18

18. Auburn 1-0-0 511 16

19. USC 0-1-0 456 17

20. Arizona St. 0-0-0 447 20

21. Kansas St. 1-0-0 438 21

22. Iowa 0-0-0 354 22

23. Virginia 0-0-0 242 24

24. N. Carolina 1-0-0 237 --

25. Texas A&M 0-1-0 227 23

Others receiving votes: Kansas 207, Oregon 116, Washington 110, East Carolina 41, Michigan St. 35, San Diego St. 19, Southern Miss. 18, Stanford 11, Clemson 8, Wyoming 8, Wisconsin 7, Texas Tech 6, West Virginia 5, Arkansas 3, Louisville 3, Toledo 3, Utah 3, UCLA 1.

Next for Terps

Opponent: Alabama-Birmingham

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Record: 0-1

6* Saturday: Lost to No. 16 Auburn, 29-0.

Pub Date: 9/02/96

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