- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2003

The Streak, Part III, has started.

Maryland appears ready to reel off another long winning streak that has become coach Ralph Friedgen’s trademark. After beating West Virginia 34-7 on Saturday for their second straight win, the Terrapins (2-2) don’t face a ranked team the rest of the season. Clemson (3-1) is the only foe over the next five games with a winning record.

“Our plan is to use [beating West Virginia] for momentum just like we did last year,” defensive tackle Randy Starks said.

Maryland won seven straight in 2001 in Friedgen’s first season and eight consecutive games last year. Another unbeaten stretch seems reasonable. The Terps travel to Eastern Michigan (1-3) on Saturday with the Eagles coming off a 39-7 loss to Navy. Maryland returns home against Clemson (3-1) and Duke (2-2) before playing a nationally televised Thursday game at Georgia Tech (1-3). The team then plays host to North Carolina (0-3) and Virginia (2-1) in another nationally televised Thursday game before finishing at N.C. State (2-2) and Wake Forest (3-1).

The schedule lends itself to a potential eight-game streak. The Terps then will be tested against N.C. State and Wake Forest, though Friedgen is 4-0 combined against those teams. It seems unlikely the Terps will catch No.6 Florida State (4-0, 3-0 ACC), after their 35-10 loss to the Seminoles on Sept.6, but Maryland still has a chance at the Gator Bowl on Jan.1 as the ACC’s second-place finisher.

The Terps shrugged off opening losses at Northern Illinois and Florida State in routing The Citadel 61-0 and West Virginia. A swagger returned as both the offense and defense manhandled West Virginia in a performance that Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez called “total domination.”

“You have to keep focusing on what’s ahead of you,” running back Bruce Perry said. “We had a tough time doing that at first, but now we feel pretty confident.”

But Friedgen still isn’t satisfied, saying the team’s 17.1 percent error rate against West Virginia was too high. Still, he noticed the team’s confidence was restored.

“I think our team got an inkling of what they’re capable of doing,” Friedgen said. “What we can’t do is stop here. We have to get better and if we do that we can have a good season.”

The Terps’ resurgence has been fueled by the return of injured receiver Steve Suter, guard Lamar Bryant and Perry. Bryant’s blocking against West Virginia helped lead the Terps to 260 yards rushing, the first time this season the Terps have been consistently successful running inside. Perry scored two touchdowns against the Mountaineers while Suter delivered his fifth career return score against The Citadel. The Terps gained 1,063 yards in the two victories.

“Lamar brings leadership, intensity and enthusiasm to the huddle,” Perry said, “and we missed that the past few weeks.”

Said Friedgen: “He has a presence there that makes us whole again — just a security thing that Lamar is back in there.”

Perry’s 79 yards on 14 carries included a standout 12-yard touchdown plus several long runs in which he broke tackles. He’s not completely healed from his high ankle sprain that cost him nearly 2 games, but Perry overcame a jarring opening-play hit to pace the Terps.

“Bruce’s confidence never wavered,” Friedgen said. “He had the acceleration and the juice that I hadn’t seen since 2001.”

Defensively, Maryland narrowly missed its second straight shutout when the reserves couldn’t keep West Virginia out of the end zone after a late turnover. The Terps allowed only three completions in both victories and had four sacks against West Virginia. Maryland’s pass rush has improved greatly thanks to Starks’ play and the defense limited West Virginia to just 156 yards.

Meanwhile, offensive tackle Ryan Flynn will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee. Receiver Jafar Williams has a sprained hand that sidelined him against West Virginia.

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