- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

Maryland’s youth movement was undermined by its elders.

Critical defensive penalties by veteran players proved disastrous for the Terrapins in a 28-24 loss to No.25 Clemson yesterday before 50,637 at Byrd Stadium. Maryland’s senseless mistakes essentially gave Clemson 21 points.

Unsportsmanlke conduct, personal foul and unnecessary roughness calls fueled separate Clemson drives. That senior Terps linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and William Kershaw and cornerback Gerrick McPherson were penalized further exasperated coach Ralph Friedgen. They were supposed to be the cornerstones of the team, not the players who ruined the Terps’ chances for a 2-0 start.

“You let it get away,” Friedgen told the team afterward. “You had it. You didn’t finish.”

Penalties weren’t Maryland’s only problem. The running game barely averaged 1 yard a carry until the fourth quarter. The offensive line was worn down by an bigger Clemson pass rush that scuttled the final drive and kept quarterback Sam Hollenbach running too often. The defense let Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst complete 18 of 22 passes.

There were plenty of mistakes on tape for Maryland (1-1, 0-1 ACC) to review as it regroups for West Virginia at Byrd on Saturday. But overzealous play that resulted in eight penalties was the most costly.

“The penalties were huge,” linebacker David Holloway said. “We were a little too aggressive.”

Said Jackson: “All we had to do was come up with a stop defensively [instead of several penalties] and the game was over.”

The game did appear over with 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Maryland led 24-14 on tight end Joey Haynos’ first career catch for a 3-yard touchdown. Another long drive kept the buffer with 8:37 remaining when Clemson got the ball back on its own 14-yard line. A 4-yard catch turned into a 19-yard gain after McPhearson’s second penalty of the day. Three plays later, Tigers receiver Curtis Baham raced past safety Christian Varner for a 51-yard touchdown catch to close within 24-21 with 7:35 remaining.

Maryland then went three-and-out for the only time in the game. Two short-yardage plays failed to get a first down that might have run out the clock.

“If we could have run the ball, we could have won the game,” Friedgen said. “A good team would have taken the ball and run 80 yards.”

Instead, Maryland gave Clemson one more chance. This time, the Tigers didn’t even need a penalty to score. Running back Reggie Merriweather ran 38 yards untouched for the winning score with 2:58 left.

Maryland’s offense showed for the second straight game it can move the ball. Hollenbach found tight end Vernon Davis for a 15-yard catch, upping his totals to six receptions for 140 yards and one touchdown. Hollenbach then capped his 18 of 28 effort for 288 yards and two touchdowns with a 13-yard pass to Drew Weatherly. Maryland was on Clemson’s 40-yard line, looking for another late rally like the one that beat Navy 23-20 on Sept.3.

“Nine-tenths of the game, I felt great,” Hollenbach said. “We felt like we were rolling.”

It quickly disappeared. The first option on the left side didn’t work, and Hollenbach couldn’t find receiver Dan Melendez and Weatherly on the right side behind the defense at the 20 for an incompletion. Maryland lost 20 more yards over three snaps as Clemson’s pass rush bulled past the Terps’ young counterparts.

“It is just bitter right now,” Melendez said. “We did what we were supposed to do, and the game just slipped right from our hands. It is very frustrating.”

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