Terps control Duke from 1st snap, 16-10 Freshmen, defense push UM to ACC win

October 05, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The start was spectacular, the finish fulfilling.

Maryland burned Duke with a 76-yard touchdown pass on the game's first snap, and didn't break over the final 59 minutes, as the Terps beat the Blue Devils, 16-10, at Byrd Stadium last night for their second consecutive win.

This was football the Ron Vanderlinden way, albeit with a twist. The Terps didn't commit a turnover and forced three, but they were lifted by some youngsters who haven't gotten a lot of repetitions since their college careers started Aug. 11, when Maryland's freshmen reported.

Senior end Eric Ogbogu got a hand on all three Duke turnovers, recovering a fumble, forcing one and tipping a pass that turned into an interception.

But the Terps wouldn't have won without huge contributions from three first-year freshmen:

There was Brian Kopka, of Hollywood, Fla., who replaced inconsistent junior Brad Rhodes and coolly kicked field goals of 36, 47 and 31 yards.

There was Jason Hatala of Centreville, Va., who wore contact lens in a game for the first time, hauled in that 76-yard touchdown pass from Brian Cummings on the game's first play, and broke a 48-yard play that set up the go-ahead field goal in the third quarter.

There was tailback LaMont Jordan of Suitland High. Hatala's roommate allowed the Terps to run out the clock in the fourth quarter when he gained 58 of his 70 yards.

"How did the gurus rate this recruiting class?" Vanderlinden said, inquiring about a group which was rated about 40th out of the nation's 112 major-college programs. "I guess the jury is still out."

Speaking of beginners, the win was Vanderlinden's first at Byrd Stadium, and first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After losing its first three games, Maryland (2-3, 1-2) began a stretch in which it will play four of five games at Byrd Stadium, which was filled halfway by 23,206 fans.

Cummings passed for 242 yards and the Terps had a season-high 309 yards as their multiple offense continues to evolve. Cummings worked out of the shotgun for the first time, flanked by a split backfield. Buddy Rodgers returned, but as a fullback. It didn't help the running game, which was stuffed for three quarters.

Maryland wasted a lead of 10-0, but other than letdowns on the last series of the first half and the first series of the second half, the defense that featured Ogbogu and junior linebacker Eric Barton was exceptional. The Blue Devils were held to a season-low 248 yards.

Duke (2-3, 0-2) defeated Navy last week and had to like its chances for an in-state sweep after it drove 76 yards with the second-half kickoff to get a tie at 10 on Dawud Rasheed's 1-yard run with 10: 39 remaining in the third quarter. The Blue Devils didn't come close to scoring again.

"We turned the ball over three times and blew a great opportunity late," Duke coach Fred Goldsmith said, alluding to Ogbogu's strip of freshman quarterback Bobby Campbell at the Terps' 35-yard line with 3: 49 left.

Actually, the play that the Blue Devils lamented the most was the LTC game's first from scrimmage. Hatala, who said he just wanted to make the travel squad this year, ran a post pattern against Duke's man coverage. He caught Cummings' pass at the Blue Devils' 35-yard line, shed cornerback Tawambi Settles and raced for Maryland's only touchdown.

"When they give us a look with nine men up front, I was licking my chops," Cummings said. "I just had to lay it up there for Jason. The kid has good jets."

The same combination set up the go-ahead field goal. Hatala again beat Settles, one of only two senior starters for Duke's defense, down the left sideline for a 48-yard catch in the third quarter. Kopka came in four plays later for his 47-yard field goal.

"It was a tough decision to bench Rhodes," Vanderlinden said, "but Kopka steps up and hits three. The one from 47 looked like it could have cleared from 57."

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, Jordan's running set up the 31-yard field goal by Kopka. The way the Terps' defense was playing, the kick clinched Maryland's third consecutive victory over Duke.

Vanderlinden talked about the Terps playing hard for 60 minutes, but a la Temple, they were again unable to take advantage of mistakes by a struggling opponent in the first half.

The defense held the Blue Devils without a first down for nearly 25 minutes and provided prime field position after a fumble and interception in the second quarter, so Duke had to feel very good about trailing 10-3 at the half.

After Cummings briefly left the game with a shoulder bruise in the first quarter, the offense was limited to one first down over the last 20 minutes of the half. Ogbogu's third fumble recovery of the season got the Terps the ball at their 49 early in the second quarter, but they gave it right back after a poorly executed flea-flicker.

Ogbogu tipped a pass by Campbell to reserve strong safety Paul Jackson at the Blue Devils' 13, but Maryland lost yardage and settled for a 36-yard field goal by Kopka with 1: 40 remaining in the half.

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