- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

DURHAM, N.C. — Maryland’s football team delivered a breakout game yesterday despite several early breakdowns that could have proved costly.

The No. 23 Terrapins whipped Duke 55-21 before 16,298 at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Terps scored the game’s final 38 points after trailing 21-17 midway through the second quarter following two interceptions of quarterback Joel Statham.

“We just have to get the turnover deal out,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “Joel has a resiliency — you have to give him that. Last week he was tentative with the ball. This week he threw the ball.”

Maryland (3-1, 1-0 ACC) doesn’t play again until Oct.9, when it faces Georgia Tech. The Terps need to work on Statham’s turnovers before they play several conference heavyweights next month.

“From here on out it’s Murderer’s Row,” Friedgen said. “We have to continue to get better and rested up right now.”

Statham completed 22 of 37 for a career-best 362 yards and four touchdowns before leaving after the opening fourth-quarter series. It was the second-most yards by a quarterback in Friedgen’s four seasons, and two other touchdown passes were dropped.

However, Statham threw three interceptions and fumbled three times, though none was lost. The sophomore quarterback has eight fumbles and seven interceptions in four games.

“I got a little bit better,” he said. “I learned a little more from the mistakes I made, and hopefully in a couple weeks I can take them out of my game. I started getting comfortable with myself. I was getting the reads and knowing what they were doing.”

Tight end Vernon Davis became the fourth Terp to catch three touchdown passes in one game. He finished with four catches for 101 yards and dropped another score.

“I knew once I get the ball in my hands I could do some great things if in an open area,” Davis said.

Friedgen said Davis is learning to run straight ahead rather than dazzle opponents with moves. Davis broke five tackles during a 40-yard score.

“Vernon has that [evasiveness], and that’s great,” Friedgen said. “But when you’ve got the rock in your hand, people are going to come after you. I want him to go north-south because that’s when you’ll really see what he can be.”

The Terps had a remarkable 100 snaps on offensive and maintained possession for 41:22. Maryland tied a team record with 35 first downs, and its 685 yards overall were believed to be the most under Friedgen.

“I was hurting a little bit, but [Duke was] hurting a little more,” center Kyle Schmitt said of the extensive play. “We can wear teams down up front.”

Said defensive tackle Henry Scott: “The offense had the ball so much in the second half we didn’t even get tired.”

It should have been a runaway early considering Maryland more than tripled Duke’s time of possession in the first half. However, Duke scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams for the first time since 1977, and two dropped touchdown passes ultimately cost Maryland 11 points.

The Terps’ defense held the Blue Devils (0-4, 0-2) to just 2 yards in the first quarter and forced two fumbles. Maryland led 10-0 after a 20-yard field goal by Nick Novak and running back Sam Maldonado’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Duke’s Chris Davis returned the next kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, and Statham followed an end zone interception with a 29-yard touchdown to Vernon Davis.

Duke countered with its only scoring drive, which largely was fueled by a 43-yard completion. Blue Devils cornerback John Talley then intercepted Statham’s underthrown pass to receiver Derrick Fenner for a 21-17 lead with 8:46 remaining in the first half.

“I broke on the ball and bobbled it for awhile, and then I just ran down the sideline,” Talley said.

Duke didn’t score again, however, and Maryland steadily pulled away. Davis scored on a 12-yard pass, and Novak added a 47-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining for a six-point halftime lead.

The Terps scored on three of their first four second-half possessions for a 41-21 lead, and the defense forced two straight turnovers. After running back Josh Allen’s 5-yard scoring run with 12:37 remaining, reserves played extensively. Each of Maryland’s three backup quarterbacks completed his only pass.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide