On roll for respect, Terps top Duke

45-12 romp lifts Maryland to 6-2

five straight wins reawaken ratings talk

College Football

October 27, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

DURHAM, N.C. - It might be too much to ask this Maryland football team to compete with the likes of Florida State or Notre Dame, the two top 15 teams it lost to in the first three weeks of the season.

But after watching the Terrapins dismantle a newly competent Duke team, 45-12, yesterday, it's clear the team rates among the better second-tier squads in the nation.

"We have five more games," said linebacker E.J. Henderson, when asked whether his team deserved a second look in the rankings since the pair of early defeats by a combined 59-10 score. "If we win out, people will have no choice but to look at us."

Maryland (6-2, 2-1 ACC) has won five straight games, including yesterday's rout, putting the team into a third-place tie with Virginia.

The team used Steve Suter's third touchdown return for the season, held the Blue Devils (2-7, 0-5) to 43 first-half yards and got two touchdown passes from Scott McBrien during a game that had a 31-0 score at halftime.

It was also marked by a series of injuries to starters. Defensive tackle C.J. Feldheim suffered a sprained right knee on the Terps' second defensive play. On the team's initial offensive play, Bruce Perry was sidelined on a shoulder injury that followed a 19-yard run, not to mention 10 months out of action due to abdominal and groin injuries.

But the quick ravaging quelled any fears from coach Ralph Friedgen, who invoked the efforts of 12th-ranked N.C. State, which had a tough time against this Duke team last week here at Wallace Wade Stadium.

"If you don't come to play, it's going to happen," he remembered telling his team Friday. The warning wasn't necessary. "We came out and took care of business. I've been proud of the way they've handled things this year."

While wins over Eastern Michigan and Wofford inspire smirks, there's something to be said for hammering teams at your level, like West Virginia and Georgia Tech (by an 82-27 score). Or a notch below, like Duke.

The team found itself undeterred by its opponent's ambitions, the library-quiet conditions, or even the rash of injuries to starters or key reserves, and turned in a result that was workmanlike if not spectacular.

Henderson set the tone for the game on the first play from scrimmage. Chris Douglas, seemingly free on a delayed counter, ran right into Henderson until he went backward.

From there, the Duke run game went underground. Even without Feldheim (senior William Shime filled in with three tackles), Duke's best backs - Douglas and Alex Wade - combined to gain 60 yards on 15 carries.

In the secondary, the Terrapins intercepted three passes. Two came from starter Adam Smith and the other from Chris Dapolito, who threw a pass to Curome Cox, who returned the interception 9 yards for a touchdown for a 24-0 lead with 6:17 left in the first half.

"Our defense played well, as they did all year," Friedgen said.

Maryland's best offensive play in the first quarter was its first: Perry's 19-yard run. But Duke cornerback Brian Greene drove Perry's shoulder into the ground, and the Terrapins didn't gain another first down.

Instead, the team looked to Suter, who had already returned two punts for touchdowns this season, and took a punt from Ryan McDonald left, then reversed field while dodging three close tacklers on the way to a 63-yard touchdown.

The run, setting a Maryland single-season record, joined an earlier 51-yard field goal by Nick Novak to give the team a 10-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first quarter.

"I thought we had an advantage in special teams," said Friedgen, who told Suter that he suspected he might need a touchdown from him. "We needed to get one, and he got the first one."

With a cushion to work with, the Terrapins found their offensive rhythm. McBrien, 1-for-4 on passes before, connected on nine of his 11 throws in the second quarter for 122 yards.

He directed two scoring drives, ending with his 3-yard run 25 seconds before halftime and another from Josh Allen on an 11-yard run earlier in the quarter. In the third quarter, he hit Latrez Harrison and Scooter Monroe for scoring passes of 69 and 16 yards.

"In the second half, we came out and did what we needed to do," said McBrien, who finished with 264 passing yards while Harrison had 103 yards on three catches. "People don't think of us, but I think we're on a roll."

Next for Terps

Opponent:North Carolina

Site:Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

When:Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Record:2-6

Yesterday:Lost to Wake Forest, 31-0

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