- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has a penchant for downfield plays, and long gainers provided most of the fireworks during the Red team's 27-21 victory yesterday over the White in the annual scrimmage that concludes spring practice.
Both offenses were limited in muddy conditions before 4,512 at Byrd Stadium, producing few extended drives. Jafar Williams' 92-yard touchdown catch and Dan Melendez's 53-yard scoring reception led the Red team. Paschal Abiamiri's 24-yard touchdown catch and safety Dennard Wilson's 65-yard touchdown interception paced the White.
"It's all patience," No.1 quarterback Scott McBrien said. "It was rough at first. The defense knows what's going on out there, but once guys got into a rhythm, we performed."
Both first- and second-team defenses clearly outplayed their counterparts in the first half, with neither offense gaining a first down for nearly 16 minutes. Wilson's interception finally broke the drought for a 6-0 White lead. The defenses even overcame quarterbacks being ruled untouchable by blitzes while wearing yellow jerseys.
"I thought our defense played better than our offense," Friedgen said. "They really shut the [starting] offense down."
McBrien completed eight of 16 for 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The lackluster numbers prompted a lukewarm review by Friedgen.
"Scott has to play better," the third-year coach said. "I have higher expectations for him. We need to cut back to what he does best and focus on it. I'm not saying he played poorly. I just think he can play better."
Running back Bruce Perry was a crowd favorite, gaining 37 yards on 10 carries, but was overshadowed by Sam Maldonado (92 yards) and Mario Merrills (90). Friedgen expects Perry to rebound from an injury-plagued season to return to his 2001 ACC Player of the Year form. He looked sharp on a 32-yard run.
"I have no doubt that he's back," Friedgen said.
Returner Jo Jo Walker made a move to become the backup return man while Steve Suter was idled by offseason knee surgery. Walker returned one punt 45 yards and a kickoff 36 yards while combining for 136 return yards. He added a 30-yard reception.
"Steve's the No. 1 returner, but I wanted to show if he's injured that I can do the job," Walker said.
The White team gained its only lead at 6-0 with 9:05 left in the first half on Wilson's interception that bounced off tight end Rob Abiamiri's chest.
"It was a lucky bounce," Wilson said. "I just had one guy ahead of me and took it in."
The Red team finally scored on Nick Novak's 29-yard field goal, but the White countered with Daniel Ennis' 25-yarder as time expired for a 9-3 halftime lead.
Williams' touchdown on the Red's opening second-half possession gave it the lead for good at 10-9. Maurice Smith followed with a 10-yard touchdown run with 8:52 remaining, and Melendez scored one play after White fumbled on the next possession. Abiamiri's 24- and 13-yard touchdown receptions in the final 4:18 sandwiched Novak's 32-yarder.
The Terps appeared to get off lightly on the injury front. Cornerback Jamal Chance suffered a separated shoulder, offensive tackle C.J. Brooks sprained his ankle and offensive tackle Akil Patterson left with a sore knee. …
Cole Field House will become a student recreational complex with an artificial turf field. The nylon surface will permit team practices, plus student intramurals and concerts.
"There's too much tradition and too many people grew up in Cole," facilities manager Curt Callahan said of the arena's closing as a basketball venue in March 2002. "… It's still a good facility." … Basketball players signed more than 2,000 autographs at Comcast Center during the campus-wide "Maryland Day."



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