- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 12, 2003

A classic trap almost ensnared the Maryland Terrapins.

A lightly regarded opponent and a coming week off nearly caused Maryland to overlook Duke last night. The Terps won their fifth straight 33-20 before 50,084 at Byrd Stadium but didn’t dominate until the second half.

Duke (2-4, 0-3 ACC) lost a conference-record 28th straight despite a near 11-minute edge in time of possession. The Blue Devils simply couldn’t convert third downs despite regularly testing the Terps’ 12th-ranked defense.

Conversely, Maryland didn’t run by the ACC’s second-worst run defense before halftime. The Terps’ 29 yards in the first half all came on an option run.

“We’re sporadic,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “Offensively, we played well in spurts, but we don’t put it all together. That’s where we have to play better.”

Maryland (5-2, 2-1) doesn’t play again until Oct.23 at Georgia Tech (4-3, 2-2), and the Terps’ battered offensive line clearly needs a respite, opening little running room inside for the second straight week. Maryland needed a gimmick play and a career-long field goal by kicker Nick Novak to gain a 13-0 halftime lead.

“I’m going to give the kids some time off, and hopefully they’ll get well,” Friedgen said. “In the last five games, we have to be at our best. I’m hoping we’re going to get excited at Georgia Tech. It could have a lot of impact on the rest of our season. We’re capable of winning our last five games. We’re capable of losing all five.”

The Terps’ defense finally clicked in the second quarter and delivered another standout effort before allowing three meaningless scores. Maryland’s pass rush wore down the Blue Devils as Duke quarterback Mike Schneider completed just 20 of 47 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Maryland got a scare when Novak was stunned while covering a kickoff with 6:35 remaining in the first half. He soon kicked an extra point, then was rested until late in the third quarter. He later missed a 40-yard field goal attempt before converting 31- and 48-yarders to tie a personal-best four field goals. Punter Adam Podlesh also handled kickoffs in the second half, and Dan Ennis kicked an extra point.

“I felt like my head was on fire,” Novak said, “but it went away. I never want to quit. I wanted to prove I could still kick.”

Maryland took a 3-0 lead on Novak’s career-best 54-yard field goal, which tied Steve Mike-Mayer’s 1973 school record. Safety Andrew Smith’s interception on Duke’s opening possession set up the drive.

The Terps used a gimmick play to set up their next score. Rich Parson ran 29 yards on an option toss from McBrien to Duke’s 17. Novak soon added a 34-yarder for a 6-0 edge with 6:51 remaining in the second quarter.

Maryland finally shrugged off its poor start with receiver Latrez Harrison’s 15-yard touchdown reception from Scott McBrien, preceded by Harrison’s 39-yard catch, for a 13-0 lead with 4:25 left in the second quarter.

The Terps opened the second half with a crisp scoring drive capped by running back Bruce Perry’s 18-yard run past three tacklers for a 20-0 lead.

Maryland finally found seams in Duke’s pass coverage midway through the third quarter. McBrien hit Steve Suter for 18- and 15-yard receptions and Harrison for a 12-yarder before Novak’s failed field goal.

McBrien had another steady outing, completing 18 of 32 for 238 yards with one touchdown and one interception — his most completions in a game.

The Terps used a recovered fumble by linebacker Shawne Merriman — the team’s first this season — at the Blue Devils’ 10 to set up two 5-yard runs by Sam Maldonado for a 27-0 lead with 2:13 left. They were Maldonado’s first snaps following a two-game suspension for violating team rules.

Maryland lost its second shutout bid on Alex Wade’s 23-yard touchdown run with 14 minutes remaining after a pass interference penalty negated Maryland safety Madieu Williams’ interception on the previous play. Wade later added a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:18 remaining, and Lance Johnson scored on a 3-yard reception with 1:37 left.

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