- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE — After taking a step forward last week against Florida State, Maryland’s offense regressed yesterday.

A week removed from nearly 400 yards of total offense, the Terrapins were awful in short yardage situations in a 16-0 loss to Virginia. Maryland ran 10 plays in the first half needing 3 yards or less to get a first down. They converted two of them.

“They beat us in there in those situations, and that hurt. That hurt real bad,” Maryland center Kyle Schmitt said. “We could have caught a lead — maybe even gone up by more than one touchdown. That’s such an emotional setback.”

Things went awry in all phases for the offense in short yardage. Vernon Davis dropped a simple out pass on third-and-2. A pair of screen passes were stopped for negative yardage.

Even the elementary quarterback sneak was stuffed not once but twice — and on consecutive plays in the first half.

“If you can’t make inches, you’re going to have a tough time winning football games,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We had our chances, and we didn’t do it.”

Friedgen said afterward he wanted a second look at the fourth-down play. From his prospective, quarterback Joel Statham moved forward before getting pushed back by the defense. He needed only about six inches on the play.

“Both times I thought I was about 2 yards downfield,” Schmitt said. “I guess they were jumping over us. We’ve been pretty good at that since I’ve been here. I don’t remember missing too many of them.”

Maryland spent most of the first half with great field position but did nothing with it. Besides having two drives stopped in Virginia territory by failed fourth-down conversions, Statham threw a pair of interceptions to Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

The first was on a crossing pattern intended for Derrick Fenner, but there were four players in blue jerseys near him. The tight end on the play ran too deep on his route, drawing the extra Virginia defenders into the area.

Statham underthrew an open Rich Parson down the middle of the field on the second interception.

“I just needed to throw it,” Statham said. “I kind of short-armed it a bit and didn’t throw it as hard as I needed to. If I had known that and threw it a little bit harder, we probably would’ve scored on that play.”

After being physically dominated up front, the Terps’ choice of play on fourth and less than 2 late in the half smelled of confidence issues with the offensive line. Statham took the snap in the shotgun, faked a handoff, rolled right and threw a screen pass back to the left to tailback Josh Allen. The play netted a loss of 3 yards and handed the ball back to the Cavaliers.

“We prepared for some gimmicky stuff,” Virginia nose tackle Andrew Hoffman said. “We were ready for some things that we hadn’t seen before. It really wasn’t a surprise to us. We didn’t freak out — we just got the job done.”

The final statistics weren’t pretty for the Terps: 214 total yards and seven first downs. Maryland has had less than 200 yards or less than 10 first downs in four of the past five games.

Virginia twice prolonged drives in the first half on straight-ahead running plays in passing situations. Maryland converted only two in the entire game. Toss in fourth downs and Maryland was three-for-16.

“We own third down against every team,” Virginia linebacker Daryl Blackstock said. “That’s what we live for.”

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