- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Domonique Foxworth was Maryland's last hope. Clemson's Justin Miller had broken through the kickoff coverage and was racing down the left sideline with a clear path to the end zone. The Terrapins cornerback was able to sprint across the field and knock Miller out of bounds at the Terps 24-yard line to avert disaster.

It was one in a long series of big plays for Foxworth, who is having a remarkable sophomore season. After Miller's return, the Terps' defense didn't allow a first down and the Tigers were forced to kick a field goal. Instead of a momentum-changing special teams play for Clemson, Foxworth's rapid recovery helped limit the damage and the Terps remained in control at 13-6 in the second quarter.

"He just ran one of the fastest 40s I have ever seen," safety Madieu Williams said. "That's something you can't teach. It's like an intangible. It's something that Domonique Foxworth has makeup speed. Domonique runs faster in a game than he does with a stop watch on him."

The secondary's play, and Foxworth's in particular, is a major reason the 18th-ranked Terps (9-2, 5-1 ACC) are on an eight-game winning streak heading into Saturday's game at Virginia (7-4, 5-2). Maryland effectively can clinch a bid to the Jan.1 Gator Bowl with a win and could gain a share of the ACC title if Florida State (8-3, 7-0) is upset by N.C. State.

Foxworth is used to being one of the smallest players on the field. However, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder has become one of the Terps' biggest producers. In addition to the saving tackle, he had an interception that sealed the victory. At that time, Maryland led 23-12, but Terps quarterback Scott McBrien gave Clemson some momentum by throwing his third interception. On the Tigers' first play, Foxworth stopped that by picking off an underthrown ball.

He is tied for the ACC lead with five interceptions and tops the league in passes defended at 20 (15 pass breakups and the interceptions). On several occasions he has seemed beaten only to make last-second saves.

Foxworth had a 9-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Duke, but his biggest play may have been his interception of N.C. State's Philip Rivers two weeks ago when Maryland trailed 21-14 in the fourth quarter. The fleet Foxworth returned it 26 yards to the Wolfpack 38 to set up the game-tying score.

"He is one of those young kids that is growing each and every week," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's kind of got a little bit of a swagger in him because of his confidence. He believes he is going to make big plays. He has the makeup speed to make plays."

Downs for 1,000

Maryland tailback Chris Downs needs 5 yards rushing to reach 1,000 on the season. That's a pretty big milestone for a fifth-year senior who began the preseason fourth on the depth chart.

"I probably wouldn't have thought that," said Friedgen, understating whether he expected Downs to run for 1,000 yards before the season. "That's a credit to [running backs] coach [Mike] Locksley and Chris Downs. I'm very proud of him, just the way he is. He's very unassuming."

Downs is averaging 109.2 yards in six conference games after 101 yards on 20 carries at Clemson. It was Downs' fourth 100-yard game, all in the past seven. The Philadelphia native has 13 touchdowns and is averaging 6.1 yards a carry. He had the biggest rushing game by an ACC player this season when he amassed 212 against Georgia Tech.

Downs could become the third Maryland rusher in four seasons to gain 1,000, joining LaMont Jordan (1999) and Bruce Perry (2001).

Extra points

Linebacker E.J. Henderson is a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the country's top defensive player. The other candidates are defensive backs Terrence Newman (Kansas State) and Shane Walton (Notre Dame), and defensive ends Terrell Suggs (Arizona State) and David Pollack (Georgia).

Center Todd Wike was named ACC offensive lineman of the week. The Nov.30 Wake Forest at Maryland game will be at noon and televised on ESPN.

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