- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Maryland football team was borderline ecstatic after Saturday’s 22-12 victory over Wake Forest, a win that halted a frustrating two-game losing streak.

Yet even as the Terps (2-2, 1-1 ACC) savored a fine defensive performance against a vaunted rushing attack, the team knew the game was anything but perfect.

Maryland’s offense continued to sputter on third down, especially once it marched inside the Wake Forest 20. The Terps committed some foolish penalties, and they had a pair of turnovers that negated favorable field position.

Was it an overwhelming, dominant victory? Hardly. Did it provide a boost for a flustered team going into Saturday’s game against No.19 Virginia (3-0, 1-0) at Byrd Stadium? Most definitely.

“We needed that one so bad,” said quarterback Sam Hollenbach, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 169 yards and an interception. “I think it says a lot for the team that we didn’t come out and play a great game offensively, but the defense picked us up. We just fought through some things and we ended up with a win, and that’s really all that matters. At the end of the season, no one cares how the points did or didn’t come.”

What might be remembered months from now — other than the Terps defense holding Wake Forest to 111 yards rushing and limiting elusive tailback Chris Barclay to just 86 yards — is the emergence of Keon Lattimore. The sophomore tailback further muddled the Terps backfield committee with a 15-carry, 76-yard effort, and Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Lattimore could earn a starting role with a good week of practice.

As starter-to-date Mario Merrills (six carries, 1 yard) struggled for the third straight week, Lattimore sparked the Terps scuffling rushing attack with his confident, aggressive style. His 3-yard touchdown run — Maryland’s only offensive touchdown — came after his fullback went in the wrong direction. That didn’t stop Lattimore, who dragged would-be tacklers with him into the end zone.

“He can do it all,” Friedgen said yesterday. “He has the ability to be a good pass receiver, a good pass blocker and a good runner. He’s a big back, and we could really use that right now.”

Lattimore was the one part of the Terps’ offense that thrived against the Demon Deacons (1-3, 0-1). Hollenbach threw for less than 200 yards for the first time this season, and his passes weren’t as accurate as they were in Maryland’s first three games.

Hollenbach’s one-week malaise isn’t a major concern at this point, especially after he also improved his performance in the running game (45 yards on six carries). Yet he knows the Terps offense must progress as the team goes deeper into its back-loaded schedule.

“We know we can make plays that, for whatever reason, didn’t get made,” Hollenbach said. “I know that sounds like an excuse, but it’s better than ‘We just didn’t know what to do’ or ‘They shut us down.’ We had plays there that we have to make. When we get in a close game, those plays need to be made.”

Much of Hollenbach’s misery came in the Terps’ five trips inside the 20, which yielded a touchdown, three Dan Ennis field goals and an interception. Maryland also was 3-for-12 on third-down attempts a week after a 2-for-13 performance in those situations against West Virginia.

“I think we have to be better [in the red zone],” Friedgen said Saturday. “We’re still not very good on third down. We have a lot of work to do. We’re not a finished product. [But] I’d rather have things to work on and win rather than things to work on and lose.”

Notes — Friedgen said the team suffered no major injuries Saturday and remains fairly healthy four weeks into the season. … Even though Friedgen wanted to get more work for Isaiah Williams, the freshman wideout was in on only two or three plays. “Derrick Fenner played 65 plays,” Friedgen said. “We have to get him off the field. We don’t need to play him 65. We have to get Isaiah in more and also Drew Weatherly, and we’ll try to do that this week.”


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