Terps pull reverse flop vs. Deacons 35-17 loss to Wake Forest follows 52-0 win in 1996

October 19, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Through much of his first season in charge of Maryland football, Ron Vanderlinden has said the record didn't reflect the level of his team's play.

He's right. The Terps are fortunate to be 2-5.

For the second straight season, Maryland made history against Wake Forest, but it wasn't seeking this line in the record book. The Demon Deacons whipped the Terps, 35-17, yesterday. A year ago today, Maryland beat Wake, 52-0, for its most lopsided win ever in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 70-point swing is the biggest in ACC history.

Maryland (2-5, 1-3) hasn't won more than six games since 1985, and its role reversal against Wake Forest (3-4, 2-3) was a stark reminder that there is no guarantee that its latest rebuilding job will be completed this century. Vanderlinden said his staff needs to do a better job, but he also reiterated that he needs better players.

"Right now, we're not making the plays we need to make to be successful," Vanderlinden said. "The answer lies within our ranks. It starts with me. I've got to do a better job, our coaches have got to do a better job. When players don't perform, it's because they can be coached more effectively.

"We've got to shore some areas up. That answer will come from recruiting."

Maryland will not be able to add to its roster before Saturday's homecoming game against Clemson, which hasn't allowed the Terps a touchdown since 1992.

From third place on down, the ACC is loaded with mediocrity, but the Terps haven't been deep enough or mature enough to challenge for their first bowl berth since 1990. Fact is, they were fortunate to beat Duke, which hasn't won in the ACC in two years, and Temple, possibly the nation's worst major-college program for much of this decade.

The transition from Mark Duffner to Vanderlinden hasn't been smooth. The Terps have struggled with a new system and more than a dozen new starters. The Terps made too many mistakes before a crowd of 17,893 yesterday, but even when they were in position, they couldn't finish plays.

Wake Forest moved out to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter and didn't put away Maryland until the fourth, but the game turned on a couple of fourth downs in the third quarter.

Senior quarterback Brian Cummings, who had career highs for completions, 27, and attempts, 47, rallied Maryland with second-quarter touchdown passes to Omar Cheeseboro and Jason Hatala. The deficit remained 21-17 when free safety Paul Jackson intercepted Brian Kuklick at the Terps' 1-yard line midway through the third quarter.

Maryland neatly drove to the Wake Forest 29, but on fourth-and-two, Cummings threw behind split end Moises Cruz.

The Demon Deacons took over and converted a fourth-down decision of their own at midfield six plays later. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jackson's blitz was too late, and Kuklick found Desmond Clark for a 31-yard touchdown pass in the right corner.

Wake Forest drove 85 yards for another touchdown on its next possession, but the first quarter hurt the Terps more than the fourth.

Maryland moved to the Wake Forest 33 with the opening kickoff, but freshman fullback Matt Kalapinski lost an unforced fumble. The defense laid down and surrendered a five-play, 70-yard touchdown drive. The offense wasted a first-and-goal at the Demon Deacons' 4 and settled for a field goal, but even those points turned sour when Myles Savage returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

When the gap grew to 21-3, Maryland was forced to throw. The Terps gained a season-high 367 yards, but only No. 3 Florida State racked up more than the 481 the Demon Deacons piled up yesterday. The sack total was telling. Cummings was dropped seven times, Kuklick none.

Vanderlinden didn't dwell on the injuries that depleted his defense last week. Defensive end Eric Ogbogu, the only consistent pass-rushing presence, was back in College Park with a sprained ankle. Jackson started at free safety only because Lewis Sanders was out with a groin injury.

The trainer's room will be full today. Strong safety Henry Baker left in the fourth quarter with a sprained neck. Right tackle John Feugill limped off with a shin injury. Adding to their pain, the Terps' charter flight home last night was delayed several hours.

There are no daunting opponents left on the schedule, but Vanderlinden has to find a way to keep the veterans interested while he continues to develop his young players.

"This is getting old," Cummings said. "Something's missing. We've got to find that something."

NOTES: Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell worked with Vanderlinden at Colorado in the early 1980s, and there was no gloating. But it was an especially sweet win for the Demon Deacons and new inside linebacker coach Mel Foels, who was on the Duffner staff that Maryland fired last November.

It was Caldwell's first win over Maryland in five tries, Wake's first since 1992, and its first over the Terps at Groves Stadium since 1979.

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