Yes, Virginia: UM is 5-0

17-point fourth quarter pushes Terps by Cavs, 41-21, ends 10-year hex

School's start best since '78

`It feels real good'

Maryland passing, special teams rise

October 07, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Old is new at Byrd Stadium, where full stands, excitement and wins currently reign.

Using scoring bursts in the second and fourth quarters, the 25th-ranked Maryland football team pulled away from Virginia twice yesterday during a 41-21 win for sole possession of the Atlantic Coast Conference lead.

The Terrapins scored 24 points in the second quarter to bust open a scoreless game. Then they got 17 more in the final stanza to put away the Cavaliers (3-2, 2-1 ACC), who had closed to 24-21 after three quarters.

With 194 total yards from Bruce Perry (143 rushing) and a redemptive effort on defense by Tony Okanlawon, Maryland got its first win in the series since 1991, and a 5-0 record (3-0 league) marks the school's best start since 1978.

"I think we won a big game in Maryland history," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I know the seniors are happy to have the Virginia streak end at nine games. Whatever happens the rest of the season, they'll know they accomplished something."

In accordance with momentous football occasions not expected around here since Friedgen was the offensive coordinator here in the mid-1980s, the game's final seconds unfolded amid the obligatory quasi-mayhem, with students prematurely rushing the field.

But finally it was all over - the game, Virginia's win streak, Billy McMullen's hex on Okanlawon.

The crowd of 44,197 was more boisterous than last week's for West Virginia, breaking out the wave at one point, something Friedgen said he'd thought "had gone out of style."

"It feels real good," said defensive tackle Charles Hill, who had six tackles. "The students are supporting us, and it just feels good to be in this position."

The win was the culmination of another strange week at Maryland, which had seen its preparations disrupted by a terrorist attack, a tornado and, most recently, the disciplining of starting linebacker E.J. Henderson for a DWI incident last weekend.

"Every week's been weird," said Friedgen, who did play Henderson, with the junior from Aberdeen contributing five tackles and a blocked kick. "I'm waiting for a normal week."

The Terps, secure in the afterglow of the win, were only about 40 minutes removed from a situation familiar from previous setbacks against Virginia - the sure win gone wrong, most vividly rendered in the 34-30 loss two years ago.

Yesterday, backup quarterback Matt Schaub led Virginia back from a 24-7 halftime deficit, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another to close the gap to 24-21 with 3:04 left in the third quarter.

It was at that point that Friedgen gave his team the "which team wants it more" appeal. For Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill, that wasn't much of a question.

"We knew the answer to that one," said Hill, who rebounded from a shaky start to produce his best game of the season, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns. "We've put in too much work to go down without a fight. We knew that's our time to pour it on."

It was Hill, on a third-and-goal play from the Virginia 5, who passed to Jafar Williams in the right corner of the end zone on a well-defended play to increase Maryland's advantage to 31-21 with 13:26 left.

On the ensuing drive, Okanlawon picked off a Schaub pass intended for McMullen and returned it 34 yards deep into Virginia territory, setting up Perry's 6-yard touchdown run with 9:16 left.

McMullen - who finished with 11 catches for 175 yards and one touchdown - caught the game-winning pass in 1999, beating Okanlawon on the play and Friedgen showed the tape of that game on Friday night.`That was the first time I'd seen it - it hurt," said Okanlawon, whose interception was his fourth this year. "I knew I never wanted to feel that way again."

The following score by Perry ended the hopes for Virginia, which came into the game having won its last three games, including a 26-24 victory at Clemson.

But after early success, Al Groh's team had no luck defending Maryland, which gained 425 of its 480 total yards in the final three quarters.

"This is certainly the best team we've played this year and the most physical team we've played all year," said Groh, a first-year coach like Friedgen.

Perry's 45-yard run off the option, on the first play of the second quarter, set up Hill's 4-yard TD dash that gave Maryland a 7-0 lead with 13:26 left in the first half.

Perry was knocked woozy on a late hit by strong safety Jerton Evans, but recovered to figure in five of 14 plays on a 77-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard Nick Novak field goal for a 10-0 lead.

The Terps' early futility (2 total yards in the first three drives) was tempered by that of Virginia, which didn't get going until Groh replaced starter Bryan Spinner with Schaub, who responded by hitting McMullen for a 63-yard touchdown pass with 5:30 left in the half.

Maryland pulled away with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Guilian Gary, and Curtis Williams' block of a Mike Abrams punt was recovered by Leroy Ambush in the end zone, giving the Terps a 17-point lead just before halftime.

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