Returner Suter is more than fair catch

MARYLAND NOTEBOOK

80-yard touchdown among Terp's 8 returns

College Football

October 06, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If Steve Suter started to emerge last month by scoring his first career touchdown on a punt return, his arrival is much closer to completion after he lighted up the field in yesterday's 48-17 rout of West Virginia.

In a victory punctuated by big plays against a woeful Mountaineers defense, Suter gave the Maryland defense a huge reward, as it kept forcing West Virginia punts throughout a 35-point first half.

On West Virginia's fourth punt of the half, Suter darted to his right, blew by one defender, who barely got a hand on him, then cut back left and sprinted down the middle untouched to complete an 80-yard return. That gave Maryland a 28-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, and completed a devastating period of 3:38, during which the Terps scored three touchdowns.

"I want them kicking it to me every time. I'm not going to question their strategy," said a smiling Suter, when asked whether he was surprised the punts kept coming to him. In all, he returned eight punts for 142 yards.

At 5 feet 9, 187 pounds, Suter might be the fastest player on the Maryland roster. He also has taken full advantage of the halo rule, which does not allow a defender to come closer than 5 yards before a return man catches a punt. Suter has yet to make a fair catch this season. And he did take a nasty shot on a short return in the first half yesterday.

"I don't see the need for fair catches," said Suter, a North Carroll High School graduate who returned a punt 81 yards for a score last month against Akron. "If someone is in my face, I'll catch it and fall forward for 2 yards, and we've got 2 yards we didn't have if I had fair-caught it."

Suter showed his toughness as a slot receiver yesterday, as well, catching two passes for 34 yards. He stretched out to catch a high pass from Scott McBrien for a 12-yard gain - and got drilled by middle linebacker Ben Collins - to gain a first down and keep a 69-yard touchdown drive going in the second quarter. That drive ended with a 1-yard run by Josh Allen that gave the Terps a 35-0 lead with 6:18 left in the half.

Allen goes forward

While the Terps wait and hope for the return of junior tailback Bruce Perry, still recovering from a torn groin muscle, freshman Allen continues to state his case as a worthy replacement.

Allen, who got his first taste of action two weeks ago, essentially replaced senior Chris Downs as the lead back for a day with 16 carries for 116 yards, both career highs, while scoring two touchdowns. His 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest run given up by West Virginia this year.

"Every week, the coaches are building more confidence in me, and I'm building more confidence in them," said Allen, who is tied with Downs with five touchdown runs. For the season, Allen has rushed 40 times for 265 yards.

Happy homecoming

Although McBrien did not grace the media with his thoughts about his successful homecoming, his cohorts did their part.

"I love the guy. He works hard," defensive end Durrand Roundtree said. "He really stepped up. That was a rough atmosphere. They were yelling his name for the wrong reasons."

Said coach Ralph Friedgen: "I thought Scott played well early. He was a little tentative later on, but he made the plays he had to make. I told him this was the biggest game of his life. When you know what you're doing, let your physical talent take over. That [touchdown] throw to Jafar [Williams] was a great throw."

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