Devils derail Terps

25-22 loss to Duke damages bowl hopes

October 31, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The clock had ticked down to 17 seconds and the reality of a 25-22 upset loss to Duke was beginning to set in for a disgruntled Maryland fan.

"We wanted to go to a bowl game!" screamed the man, who was standing in a row of seats close to the Terrapins' bench.

The angry words only added salt to the wounds for a Maryland team that has lost two of its past three games at home and is in jeopardy of not getting a bowl bid.

The Terps (5-3 overall, 2-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) have to beat N.C. State on the road next week and Virginia at home in three weeks to most likely assure themselves of a bowl trip.

The only other game left on Maryland's schedule is a date with No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee in two weeks. The Seminoles have been beaten at home once in the 1990s.

The loss to Duke (2-6, 2-3) was certainly a major setback to coach Ron Vanderlinden's rebuilding project and once again the Maryland defense was the major culprit.

"This was a great opportunity to get that sixth win and put Maryland on the charts," Vanderlinden said. "It's definitely not a step forward and is another bump in the road. I'm very disappointed."

Once again, the Terps squandered a record-breaking running performance by All-America candidate LaMont Jordan, who was the last dejected player to leave the field.

Jordan became Maryland's first 1,000-yard rusher in a season since Willie Joyner did it in 1982, rambling for a single-game career high of 227 yards to give him 1,082 yards this season. It was the third time in the past four games that Jordan has established a single-game rushing high.

"We are a better football team than Duke and shouldn't have lost the game," Jordan said. "They outplayed us and we beat ourselves. It seems that every week the team that doesn't show enough respect for the other loses, like last week when we beat North Carolina."

This time it was unheralded Duke junior quarterback Spencer Romine who sliced up the Terps' defense to the tune of a career-high 404 yards and three touchdowns, completing 27 of 42.

Romine played pitch and catch all afternoon with speedy receivers Richmond Flowers and Scottie Montgomery, and Maryland could never figure out a way to stop them.

Flowers and Montgomery combined to catch 17 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns.

Montgomery deflated the Terps with 1: 42 left in the game when he broke free over the middle to haul in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Romine on fourth-and-goal for a 23-22 lead. Montgomery beat strong safety Rod Littles for the deciding touchdown.

Romine then added the two-point conversion for a 25-22 lead, finding Flowers, who outran cornerback Renard Cox in the corner of the end zone to gather in the pass.

On two occasions in the first half, Romine threw perfect timing passes down the left sideline to Flowers for touchdowns of 69 and 19 yards. Both times, Flowers outran Cox to catch the ball and glide into the end zone.

"Yes, there was something I could have done to stop Flowers," Cox said. "I could have disrupted his rhythm. But he's a good receiver with a lot of speed."

Vanderlinden said, "A couple of bad things happened to Renard out there today. But we messed it up as a team."

The Maryland defense could be excused for being exploited by Georgia Tech quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton, and Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler was operating out of a wide-open attack.

But making Romine look like an All-American is a bit of a stretch. Romine was given too much time to pass and when he was rushed and threw the ball into a crowd, the secondary at times seemed frozen in its tracks.

On one Romine completion near midfield to Flowers, there were four Maryland players in the vicinity of Flowers and he still was allowed to catch the ball right in the middle of them.

"It was typical of our day," said senior Terps defensive end Peter Timmins. "Where do I start to explain everything that went wrong? We shot ourselves in the foot. We [the defensive line] would see the ball go up in the air and see a lot of our players around it sometimes, but they still came down with the ball. It was the most frustrating loss of my career."

Even usually consistent redshirt freshman quarterback Calvin McCall had his poorest performance of the season, completing just seven of 18 for 72 yards and one interception.

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