Terps' D can't stop 21-3 defeat No. 22 UVa. prevails despite Md. effort

QB Cummings injured

September 15, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- As promised, Maryland has a defense capable of winning football games.

Minus Brian Cummings, however, the Terps had an offense that handed a game right back yesterday. Maryland lost its junior quarterback to a shoulder injury in the first quarter, and then dropped its Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Scott Stadium to No. 22 Virginia, 21-3.

It was George Welsh's 100th win in 15 seasons at Virginia (2-0, 1-0) and the Terps' 17th straight loss to a ranked team. Maryland stayed within four points until Virginia converted two turnovers by redshirt freshman Ken Mastrole, Cummings' replacement, into touchdowns in the final three minutes.

An earlier interception produced Virginia's first touchdown, but as limp as the offense was under Mastrole, who will remain Maryland's quarterback until Cummings returns from what is believed to be a slight shoulder separation. the Terps' attitude remained pretty stiff.

"We would've won today," Cummings said when asked what would have happened if he had remained in the game. "I only played a quarter, and the defensive guys played so hard against a so-called Heisman hopeful."

Virginia tailback Tiki Barber finished with 123 yards and two touchdowns, but he needed 29 carries, lost two turnovers and the touchdowns came at the end of 19-yard drives.

Before the late scores, Virginia's offense was in danger of being shut out for the first time in 12 years.

Coach Mark Duffner, who dropped to 0-5 against Virginia, called LTC it the best defensive game Maryland (2-1, 0-1) has played in his tenure, but lamented the fact that "we just couldn't get going offensively."

The Terps mustered only 168 yards and didn't come close to sniffing the end zone after the first quarter. Even with Cummings, the offense struggled, and after kicker Joe O'Donnell missed a pair of field-goal tries, it may have been too much to expect Mastrole to solve a defense that was second in the nation in interceptions last year.

"I could see everything, and I felt confident," Mastrole said, "but Virginia's got a great defense and that was my first real game playing college football. I'm going to have to learn from my mistakes."

It's not known when Cummings will return. He was X-rayed at the University Health Center last night, but Maryland's team doctor will not review the X-rays until today at the earliest. If Cummings is unavailable to play at West Virginia on Sept. 28, Mastrole will have plenty of mistakes to draw on.

Mastrole was shoved onstage in the 11th minute, when Cummings was leveled by blitzing linebacker Dillon Taylor after a 14-yard completion to Geroy Simon.

"He [Taylor] put his helmet right in my chin," Cummings said. "I got my bell rung pretty good, but I wanted to get back in the game. It wasn't until after I settled down that I realized how serious my shoulder was."

Cummings was in civilian clothes for the second half, five stitches on his chin and his arm in a sling.

The Terps failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time in their last 10 games.

Thirty-two of their 68 plays resulted in zero or negative yardage. The offense committed six procedure penalties. Maryland's biggest rushing gain was 14 yards, and even that came from punter Russell Edwards. The Cavaliers turned a supposedly rejuvenated ground game into a mechanical mess, then teed off on Mastrole.

"It's important against young quarterbacks to get people in their face," Welsh said.

Heading into the 25th minute, there was no score when the Terps, on third-and-22 from their own 15, called for a screen to Simon sliding over the middle. Mastrole lobbed the ball right to defensive tackle Tony Dingle, who rumbled in from the 10 for the only points the Cavaliers needed.

A third-quarter fumble by Barber set up Maryland's only score, a 45-yard field goal by O'Donnell, but Welsh was content to play field position, and the Terps began fourth-quarter possessions at their 11 and 9.

In the second possession, Mastrole was intercepted by Ronde Barber at the 19, and Tiki, his twin brother, finally got Virginia's offense some points on a 6-yard run with 2: 31 left. Two plays later, Mastrole was sacked and fumbled, and the Cavaliers got another touchdown from Barber that tainted a valiant effort by Maryland's defense.

"We knew the offense was going to come on sooner or later," said sophomore linebacker Eric Barton, but that turned out to be a hope, and not a reality.

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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