Terps pull away from Duke, 33-20

UM gets 2 touchdowns in 3rd quarter, deals Devils 28th ACC loss in a row

College Football

October 12, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - They stumbled. They missed blocks. They couldn't run the football.

There were even times when Maryland played with about as much passion as you'd expect to find in a tax seminar.

Against another opponent, it might have mattered.

Against Duke, the result was business as usual.

Maryland won its fifth straight game last night, defeating the Blue Devils, 33-20, in front of 50,084 at Byrd Stadium.

The win was hardly inspiring - the Terps did more yawning than dominating - but in the end, it mattered little.

Scott McBrien threw for 238 yards and a touchdown, and Nick Novak kicked four field goals as Maryland handed Duke its 28th consecutive loss in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Bruce Perry and Sam Maldonado each rushed for third-quarter touchdowns as the Terps (5-2, 2-1 ACC) opened up a 27-0 lead before Duke scored three times in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils (2-4, 0-3) finished the game with more yards than Maryland (413-369) and had the ball for 12 minutes, 20 seconds longer than the Terps, but moral victories were all they got to take home to Durham.

"What matters is getting the win," said Maryland center Kyle Schmitt. "It doesn't matter if it's 50-0, or if it's 2-0. That's the way college football is.

"Every week someone is getting knocked off, and all that matters is holding on."

Maryland, which has next week off, played like a team in need of a vacation for long stretches last night, especially on offense.

"I was a little disappointed in the intensity," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen. "I know I was intense all week, but the problem is, my eligibility is all used up."

The Terps came into the game ranked second in the ACC in rushing, but could hardly move the ball on the ground as the Blue Devils dared Maryland to throw by bringing eight, and sometimes nine, players up to the line of scrimmage.

"It was definitely frustrating," said Schmitt. "Because that's what we do: run."

Maryland had just 29 yards on the ground in the first half, and on their first five possessions, the Terps picked up just one first down.

Novak, however, was at the top of his game, as usual. He helped Maryland jump ahead 6-0 with two field goals, including a 54-yarder in the first quarter, which topped his career long of 51 yards.

Duke, however, couldn't get anything going to steal the momentum, simply because Blue Devils quarterback Mike Schneider was running for cover much of the first half. Maryland sacked Schneider four times, increasing its season total to 24, now tops in the ACC.

"Every time I looked up, Shawne Merriman or Randy Starks was up in the quarterback's face," Friedgen said.

Penalties didn't help Duke's cause. The Blue Devils were flagged 13 times for 88 yards, and derailed two first-half drives into Maryland territory with penalties.

"We had every opportunity in the world to put points on the board early, and we kept self-destructing," said Duke coach Carl Franks. "It seemed like somebody different each time, which means we've got to coach better."

Maryland finally got things going right before halftime, when McBrien hit Latrez Harrison on a 49-yard pass down to the 15-yard line. McBrien went back to Harrison on the next play, lofting a pass into the corner of the end zone that Harrison hauled in to give Maryland a 13-0 lead going into the locker room.

"You all probably think I went ballistic at halftime, but I didn't," Friedgen said. "I just told our guys we needed to play better."

Maryland seemed to get the message. At halftime, Friedgen and offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe decided to spread the offense out and run the ball out of formations with at least three wide receivers.

The result was a little breathing room. On the Terps' first drive, Josh Allen ripped off two 11-yard runs and McBrien scrambled for 17. Perry capped off an eight-play, 80-yard drive with an 18-yard run that gave Maryland a 20-0 advantage.

The Terps increased the lead after Merriman recovered a fumble at the Blue Devils' 10 after a botched snap. It was the first fumble recovery for the Terps this season, and two plays later Maldanado rumbled in from 5 yards out to make it 27-0.

"We had a slow start, but I think it was because Duke is a good team," Merriman said.

Maryland's intensity waned when Friedgen started subbing players at the close of the third quarter, but he said he was more concerned with staying healthy than he was making the final score look good. Alex Wade, who played despite bruised ribs, rushed for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and Schneider hooked up with Lance Johnson for the Blue Devils' final score with 1:37 left to play.

Novak added two more field goals despite having to leave the game to get X-rays after a violent collision on a kickoff in the second half. Harrison finished with four catches for 88 yards.

"When it was 30-0, we were trying to substitute and stay healthy, and that's when they got back into the game," Friedgen said. "We were kind of sporadic out there. We'd play good in spurts, but we didn't put it all together. I think if we'd do that we could be a good offensive football team."

Next for Terps

Matchup: Maryland (5-2, 2-1) vs. Georgia Tech (4-3, 2-2)

Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta

When: Oct. 23, 7:45 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

Yesterday: Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest, 24-7.

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