Losing luster

Terps shine at start of Emerald Bowl, but offense turns dull

Oregon State 21 Maryland 14

December 29, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game plan seemed to be working to perfection for quarterback Chris Turner and the Maryland Terrapins early in last night's Emerald Bowl against Oregon State at AT&T Park.

Three possessions resulted in two touchdown passes for Turner, including a 63-yarder to Darrius Heyward-Bey and a 9-yard score to Isaiah Williams.

But after taking an early lead on the favored Beavers, the Terps never scored again. The Beavers tied the game late in the first half, went ahead late in the third quarter and went on to a 21-14 victory before a small, wet and pro-Oregon State crowd of 32,517.

The defeat put a damper on what had been an enjoyable week on the West Coast for the Terps and illuminated many of the same problems that haunted Maryland this season. With the loss, the 6-7 Terps finished with a losing record for the third time in the past four years.

"We played a very good football team tonight, both offensively and defensively," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, whose three-game winning streak in bowl games ended. "I thought we played as well as we could play. It's still a consistency thing."

Turner said last night's game reminded him of others the Terps played - and lost - this season.

"It was kind of deja vu," said Turner, who finished 17 of 29 for 205 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions that were not entirely his fault.

Oregon State's suffocating run defense, ranked second in the country this season, forced the Terps to put the ball in Turner's hands. Running backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball were held to a combined 21 yards on 17 carries. As a team, Maryland finished with 19 yards on 25 carries.

"They kind of had an answer for everything we did," Lattimore said.

Conversely, the Terps didn't have an answer for Yvenson Bernard or even freshman wide receiver James Rodgers.

The senior running back, who had missed his team's regular-season finale after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, ran for 177 yards on 38 carries, scoring one touchdown and setting up what turned out to be the go-ahead score.

Rodgers, a 5-foot-7 freshman, rushed for a career-high 115 yards and caught five passes for 40 yards, scoring his team's first touchdown on a 14-yard pass and then making a heads-up play by recovering a fumble by Bernard in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winner.

Trailing 21-14 with a little less than 6 1/2 minutes left, the Terps seemed to have a chance when Travis Baltz's punt was covered by Maryland at the Oregon State 1. But Bernard, and Rodgers, got the Beavers out of trouble as time ticked away for the Terps.

After Bernard pushed Oregon State (9-4) upfield, the key play was a third-and-three from the 33. With Bernard on the sideline catching his breath, Rodgers picked up 9 yards for a first down and went 10 more for another first down with 2:20 to play. He then broke off a dazzling 35-yard run to the Maryland 15, and an 11-yard to seal the game.

"I wasn't disappointed with the defense until the last possession," Friedgen said. "What bothered me is the same thing happened against Wake Forest and Virginia, and now here."

Said senior defensive tackle Dre Moore: "They kind of took the inside guys out of the game [for Maryland]. They were faster than we expected. We just couldn't get them on the ground."

Early on, Maryland knocked Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao out of the game, first in the opening quarter with a hand injury and then for good in the second quarter with an ankle injury. After former starter Sean Canfield led the Beavers on a scoring drive to tie the game at 7, the Terps forced him to fumble.

But Turner's interceptions - the first coming after H-back Jason Goode slipped and the other that went through the hands of redshirt freshman Emani Lee-Odai - took away any momentum Maryland built. A 2-yard touchdown run by Bernard with 16 seconds left in the first half helped tie the score at 14.

"I didn't think I ran the ball that well in the first half," Bernard said. "I had to come out in the second half and make things happen."

He did, and Maryland didn't. After a fumble by Bernard was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Rodgers to put the Beavers ahead 21-14 with 10 seconds left in the third quarter, the Terps had a chance to cut their deficit early in the fourth quarter, but Obi Egekeze shanked a 32-yard field-goal try.

Maryland never came close to scoring again.

"We just couldn't get it done," Turner said. "I don't know what it was. It was just tough out there."


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