Jordan, Terps get last laugh on Wake in comeback, 17-14

Maryland improves to 4-1 as back makes Deacons pay for '97 trash talk

October 10, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- LaMont Jordan returned yesterday to the scene of his biggest humiliation as a collegiate football player and walked jubilantly away with a 17-14 victory over Wake Forest at Groves Stadium.

"Two years ago when I was a freshman, I was on the ground here after a play was over and the Wake Forest players were stomping on my fingers and twisting my ankles," said Jordan. "They were trash talking the whole game that day, calling us bad names. We lost that game [35-17] and I won't forget it. Well, we came back here today and beat them."

Jordan was the ringleader for Maryland in the fourth-quarter comeback win that gave Ron Vanderlinden his first Atlantic Coast Conference victory over someone other than Duke.

It was a major step forward for the Terps (4-1, 1-1), who now have three straight home games against Clemson, North Carolina and Duke to make a serious run at a winning season.

It was also a day in which Maryland found a punter in redshirt freshman Brooks Barnard, who averaged 41.4 yards on eight kicks, including a 62-yarder that was downed on the Wake Forest 4-yard line in the third quarter.

Barnard, who holds all the Broadneck High School punting and kicking records, had punted only once for Maryland before yesterday.

Jordan happily flashed four fingers to the fans as he left the field yesterday, signifying the number of Maryland wins, which is already one more than last season.

"I'll keep adding on to those fingers as long as we keep on winning," said Jordan.

To say that Jordan is on a roll these days is a bit of an understatement.

One day after the Maryland publicity machine officially began promoting him as an All-America candidate, the 5-foot-11, 216-pound junior helped dump the Demon Deacons (3-2, 1-2) with 18 rushes for 89 yards and one touchdown and caught a game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass from Calvin McCall early in the fourth quarter.

Jordan also set the stage for Brian Kopka's game-deciding 19-yard field goal with 3: 25 left.

Jordan weaved his way through Wake Forest for 39 yards on three carries in a 10-play, 68-yard drive. Jordan might have carried his heroics even further but he "became winded" and had to turn over the tailback duties to freshman Bruce Perry late in the winning drive.

Jordan wore himself out on a 29-yard run to the Wake Forest 8-yard line, and Perry came in and could only get to the 2-yard line on three carries. That brought in Kopka, who kicked the first game-winning field goal of his three-year career, giving Maryland a 17-14 edge.

Most of Jordan's success yesterday didn't begin until there were only 10 minutes left in the game and Maryland was trailing, 14-7.

That was the moment Jordan was wandering around all alone on the left side of the field while Wake's defensive end Kelvin Jones was breathing down on McCall on a first-and-10 at the Maryland 30.

Just as Jones was about to flatten McCall, the Maryland redshirt freshman quarterback somehow ducked under him and hit a wide-open Jordan near midfield.

Jordan ran virtually unchallenged to the 20-yard line where Wake Forest cornerback Reggie Austin began to close in on him.

Austin, the ACC's 100- and 200-meter champion, gained on Jordan but couldn't get close to him until he crossed the goal line.

Jordan's ability to keep Austin from catching him left Deacons linebacker Dustin Lyman in a bit of a shock.

"I've never seen a big back of Jordan's dimensions accelerate as quickly as he did on that touchdown pass," said Lyman. "Reggie was chasing him down and finally caught up at the goal line but it was too late. Jordan was stopping and starting during the first 30 yards. He's as good as I've seen."

Vanderlinden said, "LaMont was super on that touchdown catch and run. We still don't know how good he can be. We'll find out if he keeps on working hard every day in practice."

And what about McCall who had his problems until he escaped to hit Jordan for the 70-yard bomb?

"It was just a great athletic play for him to get away and throw the ball to LaMont," said Vanderlinden. "I've said all along that when you play a freshman quarterback, there will be some bumps in the road. When you play a freshman quarterback against a good team, there is going to be a learning curve."

In regard to finally beating someone other than Duke in the ACC, Vanderlinden said, "It was a tough sweat and a much needed win. What this game tells me is that we did not play well early but we had enough playmakers and character to battle back and find a way to win."

McCall finished completing 11 of 21 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown and admitted he and the Terps "lost focus" after getting a quick 7-0 lead.

"We thought we would be able to score easily today but it didn't happen," said McCall. "Finally, LaMont and I had to stand up on the sidelines and tell our guys that we could come back and win this game as long as they kept protecting me and opening holes for LaMont."

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