Terps run by Wake into ACC lead

Perry's 276 yards pace 27-20 win

first sole league lead since Ross

September 23, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The sun was nearly down at Groves Stadium before the ramifications of work done here and elsewhere hit the Maryland football team, which moved to 3-0 with a 27-20 win over Wake Forest yesterday.

For the first time since Bobby Ross' championship teams in the mid-1980s, Maryland sits alone atop the Atlantic Coast Conference at 2-0. That's after Terrapins tailback Bruce Perry ran for 276 yards on 30 carries, and after North Carolina unexpectedly whipped Florida State, 41-9, just 80 minutes east of here.

"I heard he had 275, that's crazy," Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson said of Perry's total, only eclipsed in Terps history by LaMont Jordan's 306 yards in 1999.

It was just one of many elements that sounded so easy, yet difficult to comprehend for Maryland's players and coaches. They had just spent three hours struggling against themselves and a Wake Forest team (2-1, 0-1) that did nothing but battle back.

The Terrapins were flagged for nine penalties, one more than their total the first two games. They turned the ball over twice, two more than their starting offensive unit had done during the first two games. And a defense that had been mostly unmovable for the first two games yesterday learned of life lived on one's heels.

But the offense gained 519 yards. And in the bottom-line currency by which this game was played, it was Tony Jackson who intercepted a James MacPherson pass in the end zone, squashing the last chance Wake Forest was given when Brooks Barnard shanked a 12-yard punt in the final minute.

It was a league win on the road, putting Maryland in position for its first 4-0 start since 1978 if it can beat West Virginia at home next weekend.

"It could have gone either way," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I felt like our guys hung in there. We seemed to make a lot of mistakes, especially in the red zone. When you do those things you usually don't come out on the top side, but I think that's a sign we're a pretty good football team."

Maryland, and its tailback, looked better than good on the opening play of the game. Perry started to the left side of his line, went 10 yards before breaking a tackle by Wake Forest's Calvin Pace. He then cut back past Adrian Duncan at his own 40-yard line and simply mashed toward the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead just 20 seconds into the game.

"I wasn't thinking," he said of the seconds where Pace seemed to have a hold of his ankle. "I was just trying to get away. I saw that a big play was about to happen and I just wanted to make the best of it."

By the end of the first quarter, he had 100 yards. By the end of the third, he nearly had 200, fulfilling Maryland's goal of using a run-oriented offensive line to dominate a Wake Forest defensive line that was more suited to pass rushing.

So not only did Perry run the ball well, but so did reserves Marc Riley and Jason Crawford.

"The offensive line was working for me," Perry said. "Like I've said to everyone else, they played a great game. Those 200 and however many yards are theirs."

But the performance of Perry with the offensive line stood out like a Ferrari at a truck stop, the flash in what was an otherwise rugged game with more errors than either Friedgen or Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe would have liked.

Wake Forest would drive inside Maryland's 5-yard line, only to have Tarence Williams get tackled by Leon Joe, C.J. Feldheim and Durrand Roundtree for a 3-yard loss, forcing it to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Tyler Ashe.

Ashe, who cut Wake's deficit to 7-3 with 5:29 to go in the first quarter, then put the ball out of the end zone on a kickoff for one of five touchbacks Maryland had to take.

Given the ball in bad field position, Maryland was able to move the ball consistently and got the ball inside the Wake Forest 30-yard line three times. But with an interception ending one drive and a holding penalty stopping another, the team went into halftime with a 10-3 lead, courtesy of a 27-yard field goal by Nick Novak midway through the second quarter.

"We definitely didn't put our best foot forward," said Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 222 yards, but also threw two interceptions. "We've got to come out this week and ... play better next Saturday."

Against a team that had yet to reach the end zone, Maryland seemed to have delivered a knockout punch by driving 76 yards in seven plays to take a 17-3 lead on a 1-yard run by Riley with 8:20 left in the third quarter. But Wake Forest, which was looking for its own 3-0 start, would fight back and score a pair of touchdowns.

The only problem was that Wake Forest's volleys were often answered by Maryland. Williams finally put the Demon Deacons in the end zone with an 11-yard run with 1:47 left in the third, cutting their deficit to 17-10. It simply grew again when Novak made a 29-yard field goal with 12:31 left in the fourth.

"We did some of the right things at the right times," said receiver Guilian Gary, who had five catches for 77 yards. "We had our ups and downs, but when adversity hit, we hit it right back."

Ashe would hit a 37-yarder shortly after Novak's kick, only to have it trumped by the second of Perry's touchdown runs, a 50-yarder down the middle of the field that gave Maryland a 27-13 edge with 8:38 left.

Wake Forest scored for the final time with nearly seven minutes left, cutting Maryland's lead to 27-20 on Jason Anderson's leaping grab of a 42-yard pass from MacPherson.

"We made too many mistakes to beat a good team," said Grobe, whose team was plagued by turnovers (two) and penalties at inopportune times. "I was most disappointed with giving up big plays. Bad lapses in defense resulted in two big touchdowns."

Maryland 7 3 7 10 - 27

Wake Forest 3 0 7 10 - 20

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