W. Va. shuts Maryland down, out Terps' offense musters 62 yards in 13-0 loss

September 29, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- This was the scariest question after Maryland's horrific offensive performance at West Virginia last night: What would the Terps have looked like without an extra week to prepare for the Mountaineers?

Maryland meekly lost to No. 23 West Virginia, 13-0, before 54,542 at Mountaineer Field. Despite the return of quarterback Brian Cummings and having twice as much time to prepare as the Mountaineers, the Terps crawled farther into the offensive shell that has kept them in the dark during the past year.

In its previous game, a 21-3 loss at Virginia on Sept. 14, Maryland (2-2) was limited to 168 yards, a low in coach Mark Duffner's five seasons with the Terps. That effort was a windfall compared with last night's, as the Terps mustered just five first downs and 62 yards.

"We're not very good on offense right now," said Cummings, who had more interceptions (four) than completions (three). "The defense played [great] but we [the offense] stunk up the joint."

It was the second shutout for West Virginia (5-0), which has allowed only 24 points. The Mountaineers have the only unit in the nation ranked in the top 10 in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense, but Maryland's offense was stumbling long before it came here.

It was the second straight game, and the fifth in their past 11, in which the Terps failed to score a touchdown.

On third down on its first possession, Maryland was guilty of illegal participation, and that mistake set the tone on a rainy evening. The Terps never got across midfield. Through three quarters, they had more punts, six, than pass completions, five.

Ken Mastrole had replaced Cummings at Virginia when the Terps' starter suffered a slight shoulder separation. Mastrole got the nod last night, Cummings took over on the third possession, but the freshman finished when Cummings aggravated his shoulder injury in the third quarter.

None of the ploys attempted by Duffner and offensive coordinator Dan Dorazio worked.

The Terps put their best runner, Buddy Rodgers, at fullback, and all he had to show for it was a hip pointer. They tried a veteran pass rusher, Al Wallace, at tight end. Brian Underwood, their No. 2 rusher after three games, didn't get a carry, but he did try an option pass.

Maryland replaced the run-and-shoot with a multiple look in the spring, but none of its formations produced against West Virginia. Duffner thought some of his offensive problems could be solved during a bye week, but the Terps appeared to regress.

"In my freshman year, we had an offense in the top 10 nationally and a defense that wasn't that good," wide receiver Geroy Simon said.

"It's like a flip right now. The offense is not doing anything, and the defense is playing great."

Freshman tailback Amos Zereoue burned Maryland for 145 yards, but the Terps' defense still played well enough to win, as it limited the Mountaineers to 250 yards.

The defense did regret two blunders. The first came when the Terps didn't cover tight end Chad Wable on a first-quarter misdirection play. A wide-open Wable went 26 yards on the completion from Chad Johnston, and set up a 33-yard field goal by Jay Taylor.

That gaffe was nothing compared with a second-quarter breakdown.

Moving in reverse, West Virginia was faced with third-and-41 when coach Don Nehlen called for a draw by Zereoue. The Terps' prevent defense couldn't even force a punt, as Zereoue went right up the middle for 42 yards. He scored six plays later, and West Virginia's unbeaten record was never endangered.

Maryland trailed 10-0 here two years ago and came back to win, but the Terps didn't have the personnel or scheme on offense to stay with West Virginia.

Nearly everything Maryland did backfired. The Terps won the opening toss and deferred, but Joe O'Donnell's weak kickoff allowed the Mountaineers to begin the game on their 41. They dominated field position throughout the first half, when Maryland's best starting point was at its 30.

The Terps were due to get the ball near midfield with five minutes to go in the half, but they were flagged for roughing the kicker, another mistake by a team that looked as if two weeks weren't enough to get ready for the Mountaineers.

"I'm very disappointed by this loss," Duffner said. "I felt our defense certainly had a winning effort. Any time you hold someone to 250 yards, that should be enough margin for victory, but we're really struggling offensively. There's no doubt we can perform better than we did tonight. I had much higher expectations."

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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