Terps take sting out of Jackets

November 15, 1996



AP Sports Writer

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Maryland got a measure of revenge and gave embattled coach Mark Duffner reason to smile as he walked off the Byrd Stadium field for perhaps the final time.

Brian Cummings completed a career-high 21 passes and Orlando Strozier intercepted two passes in the final two minutes as Maryland jarred Georgia Tech's bowl hopes with a 13-10 victory Thursday night.

Maryland (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) built a 13-3 lead early in the third quarter, then held on to defeat the Yellow Jackets for only the second time in eight games since 1988.


Duffner improved to 20-34 during his five-year tenure at Maryland and at least temporarily snuffed out speculation that he will be fired after the Terrapins close out the season at Florida State on Nov. 23.

``Next week we're playing for a winning season,'' Duffner said. ``That's not too bad when you consider all the focus on this coach during the course of the last week or two. ... I think the players gave their answer tonight, that we are competitive in the ACC.''

Cummings was 21-for-29 for 192 yards and a touchdown. The junior's previous high for completions in a game was 20.

The victory was particularly sweet for the Terrapins because last year they lost 31-3 to Georgia Tech - a defeat that knocked previously unbeaten Maryland out of the Top 25 for good.

``We were embarrassed in that game, so there was a real focus to come back and play very hard tonight,'' Duffer said.

``There was an obvious revenge factor for what they did to us last year,'' Cummings said. ``But really, we just wanted to play our butts off.''

Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-4) has lost three of four and now needs to beat either Navy or Georgia in its final two games to earn enough wins to qualify for a bowl berth.

``We have two games left and we have an opportunity to have a winning record, and that's basically what we want to get done,'' coach George O'Leary said.

``We still have a chance to get to a bowl game, but this was a big setback,'' said Joe Hamilton, who was 20-for-37 for 228 yards but threw three interceptions. ``Give all the credit to Maryland, but this was a team we should have beat. It's really disappointing.''

The Yellow Jackets' final solid chance to forge a tie ended when Strozier intercepted a pass with 1:43 left. Georgia Tech got the ball back at its 49 with 29 seconds to go, but Strozier immediately picked off Joe Hamilton's pass to decide the issue.

``This is about the courage and fight of this football team,'' Duffner declared. ``All of the distractions that could have taken the players' minds off the game were put aside, and they won the game.''

The Yellow Jackets closed to 13-10 late in the third quarter by covering 72 yards in 13 plays in a march capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Hamilton to Mike Sheridan. On the preceding play, C.J. Williams gained a yard on a fourth-and-1 situation.

After an exchange of punts, Maryland moved from its 24 to the Tech 7 before Keith Brooking intercepted a deflected pass on a third-down play with 9:50 remaining.

The Yellow Jackets punted the ball away, and Cummings converted a fourth-and-1 run from the Maryland 26 with 6:35 left. An interception with 3:31 remaining gave Georgia Tech the ball at its 17, but Strozier's first interception ended the drive.

After the game, fans swarmed the field to celebrate the victory in the final home contest for 21 Maryland seniors.

``Tonight's story is about these kids, not me,'' Duffner said. ``We wanted our seniors to walk off the field as victors.''

Maryland took a 3-0 lead by moving 82 yards on its second possession before Joe O'Donnell kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. Cummings was 5-for-6 for 59 yards on the march.

Jermaine Miles recovered a fumble by Maryland's Walt Williams at the Terrapins 23 late in the first quarter to set up a 29-yard field goal by Brad Chambers.

Chambers was wide left on a 41-yard field goal attempt midway through the second quarter, his first miss in nine tries this season.

Maryland proceeded to march 76 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-3 lead with 2:25 left in the half. A 32-yard run by Brian Underwood set up a 3-yard TD pass from Cummings to Geroy Simon.

Cummings was 13-for-16 for 115 yards in the first half.

The Terrapins went up 13-3 early in the third quarter when Andreal Johnson blocked a punt and O'Donnell followed with a 22-yard field goal.

The Herald-Mail Articles