Okanlawon conspicuous by his absence

MARYLAND NOTEBOOK

With cornerback ailing, UM left with gaping hole

October 28, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - E.J. Henderson may be the heart and soul of Maryland's defense, but it could have used a little of Tony Okanlawon yesterday.

Okanlawon missed the game with the flu, and it showed as Chris Rix and his receivers had the Terrapins' corners for lunch in Florida State's 52-31 runaway.

Redshirt freshman Dennard Wilson and sophomore Curome Cox had a rough day, particularly against the Seminoles' Talman Gardner, who had 140 receiving yards on six catches. Atrews Bell had 104 yards on four receptions.

FOR THE RECORD - In Sunday's Sports section, a fan's last name was misspelled in an item about fans watching the Maryland-Florida State football game at a College Park bar-restaurant. The fan's name is Mike Sarzo. The Sun regrets the error.

Wilson and Cox will be found in pictures with Gardner, Bell and Javon Walker scoring touchdowns, but Terps free safety Tony Jackson overran Craphonso Thorpe, leading to a 51-yard pass play. But Cox did force Florida State's lone turnover, intercepting Rix in the second quarter.

But Maryland's defense has been able to depend on Okanlawon to lock up an opponent's top receiver, as he did against Virginia's Billy McMullen and Georgia Tech's Kelly Campbell.

"What do you think?" Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen asked rhetorically in answering how much Okanlawon's absence hurt. He had hoped that Wilson, in his first start, would be up to the challenge. "I told Dennard, `You can't hide, man. You're all we got.' "

Rough day for Perry

Under normal circumstances, Bruce Perry's day wouldn't produce many frowns.

He ran for 67 yards on 13 carries yesterday. He gained 70 yards on six catches, including a 38-yarder that set up a game-tying touchdown late in the game. He scored another touchdown on his own.

But he had a long face after the game in which he passed the 1,000-yard barrier for rushing. He had two fumbles, including one that was recovered by Florida State late in the game and led to the game-clinching touchdown.

He also had numerous drops, many on screens that were set up with blockers in front of him.

"I don't know what to say," said Perry, who now has 1,020 rushing yards to go with 270 receiving yards on 32 catches. "I dropped the ball. There's no excuse."

Painful to watch

It was a long day for Maryland students watching the game at home in College Park.

"The Terps had it, but they let it go," said Nicole Lewis, a 23-year-old senior majoring in government and politics.

She watched the game at Santa Fe, a bar and restaurant just off campus, with fans on the edge of their seats and sometimes out of them. They waved at the television screens, trying to propel the Terps into the end zone.

Lewis shook her red pom-pon with one hand and clutched her lucky football bead necklace with the other. It wasn't so lucky yesterday.

"If it weren't for the turnovers and mistakes, it would have been a different game," said Mike Szarzo, 28, who graduated last year.

When the game was over, police were prepared for unruly crowds, angry about what might have been. Prince George's County were parked outside bars, while university police patrolled the campus and Maryland state troopers stood in the middle of fraternity row like linebackers.

But there was no trouble.

Sun staff writer Laura Barnhardt contributed to this report

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