- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Maryland was nearly devoured by another MAC attack.

The Terrapins outlasted Eastern Michigan 37-13 last night at Rynearson Stadium, but the 34-point favorites got an early scare and appeared in danger of losing to a Mid-American Conference team for the second time this season.

The Terps needed five straight scores to put away the pesky Eagles after Eastern Michigan (1-4) closed to three points shortly before halftime. Maryland didn’t make it a runaway until the fourth quarter.

“You get flashbacks of week one,” quarterback Scott McBrien said of the 20-13 loss at Northern Illinois “We said we weren’t going to let this happen.”

Said coach Ralph Friedgen: “It’s hard turning momentum around. We didn’t do that at Northern Illinois. It felt like nothing was going to go right.”

Several players said the announced crowd of 19,968 that appeared half as much in the 30,000-seat stadium had a negative impact.

“When we play [regularly] before 50,000, it’s human nature to come out a little flat,” center Kyle Schmitt said.

Said McBrien: “It’s hard to get up for games like this.”

Maryland (3-2, 0-1) will play host to Clemson (3-1, 1-0) Saturday and obviously still needs to work on offensive rhythm after faring poorly for much of the game.

McBrien shrugged off a slow start by completing 14 of 19 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown before being rested midway through the fourth quarter. He even completed a season-long 58-yarder to receiver Derrick Fenner. However, McBrien’s best plays might have been runs that included a 9-yard score on an option and a 14-yard scamper on a third-and-11.

Maryland was shorthanded in the backfield with Sammy Maldonado suspended and Bruce Perry limited by a high ankle sprain to 11 early carries for 38 yards. However, running back Josh Allen shouldered the offense until McBrien awakened, gaining 71 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 18 carries.

“That was big because we’re running out of running backs,” Friedgen said.

Maryland’s defense was surprisingly beaten inside by Eastern Michigan, though the Terps stiffened when necessary and avoided a long Eagles touchdown drive. Still, Maryland generated little pass rush and was vulnerable against short passes after permitting only three completions in each of the last two games.

The Terps needed a defensive touchdown to lead 16-10 at halftime. Cornerback Domonique Foxworth scored on a 44-yard interception on Eastern Michigan’s first pass. Kicker Nick Novak’s extra-point attempt bounced off the left upright, his third miss in 107 attempts.

“That was an omen,” Friedgen said. “I said, ‘This is going to be a long night.’”

Eastern Michigan closed to 6-3 on kicker Andrew Wellock’s 42-yard field goal with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter. The Eagles manhandled the Terps inside and got a 30-yard reception from tight end Adam Jacobs.

Maryland finally emerged from the early slump on Allen’s 1-yard touchdown run to cap a 13-play, 70-yard drive for a 13-3 lead with 4:56 remaining in the second quarter. Maryland sandwiched three medium-range completions and McBrien’s 14-yard scramble with five runs for 34 yards by Perry and two goal-line bursts by Allen.

Earlier, returner Steve Suter’s fumble set up Eastern Michigan’s first touchdown in three games against Maryland. Eagles receiver Kevin Zureki flipped over Terps safety Madieu Williams at the goal for an 8-yard touchdown reception, cutting Maryland’s lead to 13-10 with 23.4 seconds left in the second quarter.

Suter earned quick redemption with a 45-yard reception. Novak followed with a 27-yard field goal with 2.2 seconds left.

Eastern Michigan drove 74 yards to open the second half before settling for Wellock’s 25-yard field goal to close within 16-13. Maryland countered with its third straight scoring possession on Allen’s 8-yard run for a 23-13 advantage with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter. The Terps then pulled away on McBrien’s 9-yard touchdown run with 14:54 left. Receiver Dan Melendez later scored on a 14-yard pass.

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