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Terps' Allen takes low road to success

November 16, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. There are a lot of things that Josh Allen isn't.

The University of Maryland tailback is not loud. He's not overused. He's not cocky or overconfident. And most of all, he's not a very good comedian.

"Before the game we were joking and I asked him 'How about 100 yards?'" quarterback Scott McBrien said. "He said 'How about 200?'"

And last of all, he's a not a good predictor of his abilities.

Allen ripped off 257 yards on 38 carries 57 more than his joking prediction and two touchdowns for the third-best rushing game in history to lift the Terps to a sorely needed 27-17 victory over Virginia Thursday in a pivotal game in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and bowl chase race.

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And while most would have been sitting there thumping their chest and singing his own praises, Allen felt more comfortable traveling the low road.

"It feels good to be there when the team needs you," he said modestly in the middle of a crush of post-game interviewers.

The Terps needed Allen in the worst way on Thursday. For starters, starting tailback Bruce Perry and backup Sammy Maldonado were out with injuries, leaving Allen as the only runner with experience in the Terps' backfield.

Add to the problem gusty weather conditions which turned a passing offense into a death wish that would have knocked the Terps out of those coveted championship and bowl aspirations.

Allen took on all carries and all comers with the same flowing and confident strides.

"Josh did well," McBrien said. "He gave us his A game tonight. That opened up the passing game. He came through and played very, very well."

But Allen has spent most of the year hidden in the Terps offense. Perry receives most of the carries when he's healthy. Still Maryland's equal opportunity running game had Allen averaging 51.2 yards per game, four yards less than Perry.

Until Thursday night when Allen had another coming-out party.

"I've been a Josh Allen fan for my whole life. He gives his all every night," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He hasn't put the numbers up because we have other good backs. Last year, he had eight touchdowns in 50 carries. I told the coaches not to tell anyone about that because it would make us look like bad coaches because we aren't getting him the ball more."

But Allen's quiet demeanor keeps him Maryland's secret weapon.

"With Josh, you cannot really tell too much," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "He is as quiet as a cat and you can't really tell too much. He is just really consistent. He showed it all week in practice."

Allen made his presence known quickly. He rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.

He followed it up in the second period with a run that started over right tackle that was plugged. Allen kept his legs moving and worked down the Terps' offensive line until he broke off the end and jetted 80 yards for a touchdown that put Maryland ahead 21-7. After the touchdown, a number of Allen's runs were finished with him carrying Virginia defenders on his back.

"Josh Allen is a quality back. He played like one tonight," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "He did a great job. Allen was faster than the guys who were chasing him, certainly. That was painfully evident as I had to stand there and watch him."

Allen agreed, quietly.

"I think of myself as a pretty fast guy," he said.

There's another thing that Josh Allen isn't.

Understated.

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