Eight penalties leave Terps at a loss for composure


15-yard infractions aid Clemson on 3 TD drives

Maryland notebook

College Football

September 11, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - It started three plays into the game, when senior linebacker William Kershaw said something that drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Instead of enjoying a three-and-out sequence, the Maryland defense remained on the field, where it stayed until Clemson had opened with the most time-consuming touchdown drive in school history.

Then the Terps kept making the sort of glaring mental mistakes that gave No. 25 Clemson second chances and made Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen turn red.

And after the Terps had blown a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and lost, 28-24, their home opener had taken on an extra unpleasant aroma.

Eight penalties at a cost of 98 yards. Eight penalties, including two unsportsmanlike conduct calls and three personal fouls, two of which were assessed on the same play and led to a Clemson touchdown early in the third quarter.

Maryland didn't just get beat by surrendering too many big plays in crunch time. The Terps helped by losing their heads, by jump-starting Clemson's first three scoring drives with at least one 15-yard infraction.

"There were 14 points probably given up on penalties. We're not a team that can give away 14 points against a ranked team and expect to win," Friedgen said. "I think sometimes there's too much talking that goes on out there among players. Our guys do it just like their guys do it. I can't condone that at all."

Senior cornerback Gerrick McPhearson was flagged twice for personal fouls. Early in the third quarter, after a 4-yard rush by Clemson running back James Davis to the Maryland 40, McPhearson and senior linebacker D'Qwell Jackson committed personal fouls.

Suddenly, Clemson had a 28-yard free pass and was at the Maryland 12. Three plays later, with 9:14 left in the quarter, the Tigers had a 14-10 lead.

"There's no discipline problem. It's just guys trying to play ball. It happens every game," said Jackson, who had a game-high 16 tackles and said he retaliated after his leg was grabbed by a blocker.

"The guy was holding onto my leg, and I pushed his head down [to the ground] to remind him not to do it again," Jackson said. "I just lost my composure real quick and got called for it."

Big game for Davis

The hardest man to bring down was Maryland junior tight end Vernon Davis - all 6 feet 3 and 253 chiseled pounds of him.

Davis, who found seams in the Clemson zone and caught everything thrown to him, finished with a career-high 140 yards on six catches. He stood out especially in the third quarter.

Three plays after gaining 30 yards with a great run after the catch - he dragged nearly half the Clemson defense at least 10 yards and drew a personal foul by the Tigers - Davis ran over cornerback Sergio Gilliam on a 29-yard catch-and-run that gave Maryland a 17-14 lead with 6:34 left in the quarter.

"The only thing I worry about with Vernon is he refuses to go down. I worry sometimes that somebody is going to take his knees out. I admire his effort," Friedgen said.

"I don't really think about it. I just try to stay up and get extra yards," Davis said. "That's what the weight room is for."

End zone

Junior wide receiver Drew Weatherly started in place of senior Derrick Fenner (concussion) and had two catches for 28 yards. ... Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst became just the second passer to throw multiple touchdown passes against the Terps since Florida State's Chris Rix in the second week of the 2003 season.

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