- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

The Maryland Terrapins left the fresh air of West Virginia with a healthy state of mind heading into an off week before taking on the toughest stretch of the season.
The Terps will face Georgia Tech on Thursday, Oct.17, in the first of seven straight ACC games that ultimately will decide their season. They headed east across the Appalachian Mountains Saturday with a renewed sense of confidence after a 48-17 rout of the Mountaineers, Maryland's first win over a quality opponent this season.
The Terps defense continued to shine, but it was the special teams and offense that found themselves against West Virginia.
Return man Steve Suter showed a dimension that hasn't been seen in College Park in some time with an electrifying 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. And quarterback Scott McBrien had his most impressive performance as a Terp and showed Maryland's potential for quick-strike attack against a good opponent.
"A lot of those were second and third reads that McBrien made," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said of his quarterback's important third-down conversions. "He is progressing. I said at the beginning that we had playmakers and everybody kind of doubted me. They are starting to come to life now, and that's what I'm hoping will happen the rest of the season."
Freshman tailback Josh Allen (116 yards) broke off a 70-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0. Suter's punt return gave Maryland a 28-0 lead before the first quarter ended, and the Terps led 35-0 after a demoralizing, smash-mouth drive in the second quarter. The Terps (4-2, 0-1 in ACC) controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides and had a field day at Mountaineer Field.
Maryland will enjoy the feeling for several days before its first practice of the week on Wednesday, when it begins preparing for Georgia Tech (4-2, 1-2).
"I do like [the break]," said Friedgen of the first extended time off since camp opened two months ago. "I think our team was tired."
Friedgen will speak at a function in Atlanta tonight, while the assistant coaches take to the road and recruit. Players will lift weights today and take tomorrow off.
The impressive outing Saturday sends the Terps into the second half of the season with high spirits with hopes of a second straight upper-tier bowl appearance.
Maryland has found a running game despite the loss of ACC Offensive Player of the Year Bruce Perry, who has not played this season because of a torn groin muscle. Perry could return next week, but tailback Allen and Chris Downs have proved capable behind a strong, veteran offensive line.
And Suter's play on special teams has been as valuable to the team as any of the running backs. The speedy sophomore has two punt returns for scores. He leads the ACC in kickoff returns, averaging 27.1 yards, and is second in punts (13.4). Suter had eight punt returns for 142 yards against West Virginia.
"When our defense is playing that good, that's our first play on offense," Friedgen said.
After the Mountaineers' went three-and-out on the game's first series, Suter returned a punt 19 yards to West Virginia's 45. Three plays later, McBrien ran 21 yards for a score that started the blowout. The Terps never let up and hope the win will help them carry momentum into the season's stretch run.
"We knew what we were capable of," defensive end Durrand Roundtree said. "In previous games, we hadn't shown what we are capable of. We have yet to play our best game. This win was big for us because it lets the world know we're not a joke."
Notes
Friedgen said Perry has improved and should begin running today. The coach is optimistic Perry can participate in full practices starting Saturday. Safety Dennard Wilson suffered a hip pointer against West Virginia. Linebacker E.J. Henderson is tied for the ACC sacks lead with six, along with Duke's Shawn Johnson and N.C. State's Shawn Price. Punter Brooks Barnard leads the league with a 43.2-yard average.


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