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Terps defense is death of Wake

September 25, 2005|By AARON BEARD

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.

D'Qwell Jackson knew Maryland's defense was better than what it showed during last week's loss to West Virginia.

The Terrapins certainly proved it Saturday.

Josh Wilson returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown to lead Maryland's solid defensive effort in a 22-12 win over Wake Forest, continuing the Terrapins' recent dominance in the series.

Keon Lattimore ran for 76 yards and the only offensive touchdown for the Terrapins (2-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have beaten the Demon Deacons (1-3, 0-1) seven straight times, including all five matchups since Jim Grobe took over here.

Maryland had allowed 301 yards rushing in last week's 31-19 loss to the Mountaineers, putting them last in the league in rushing defense. But the Terrapins responded by shutting down the ACC's top rushing attack and shaking off two straight unimpressive performances in the fourth quarter.

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Maryland allowed Clemson to score the final 14 points of a 28-24 loss two weeks ago, and allowed the Mountaineers to score the final 10 points last week.

"All season long, we've believed we're good," said Jackson, the ACC's leading tackler who finished with nine stops. "This week was a test for us to see how good we really were."

Wake Forest came into the game averaging better than 270 yards rushing, eighth-best in the nation. Micah Andrews led the league and ranked fourth nationally at 153 yards per game, while Chris Barclay was coming off a 210-yard, four-touchdown game against East Carolina - part of a 407-yard rushing day for the Demon Deacons.

Maryland allowed Wake Forest 111 yards rushing and 244 total yards, while recovering two fumbles and holding the Demon Deacons to 5-for-19 on third-down conversions. And except for Barclay's 4-yard scoring run late in the third, Wake Forest's offense seemed out of rhythm just about all day.

"We wanted to come out and show that our defense isn't easy to run on," said safety Milton Harris, who had two forced fumbles. "We wanted to make a statement this week and let everyone in the conference know - and let Wake Forest know - that if they try to run the ball against our defense, it's going to be a long day."

Barclay ran for 86 yards and a touchdown for Wake Forest, which fell behind 13-0 in the first half and never recovered. Andrews wasn't a factor, finishing with six carries for 23 yards - all in the first half.

And considering the growing pains of quarterback Benjamin Mauk - a redshirt sophomore who has one touchdown and four interceptions in his first season as the full-time starter - it was a crippling combination.

"I remember looking up one time and it seemed like there was 10 people in the box," Barclay said. "It got to be a little frustrating after a while, because you want to have some space to operate."

Andrews also had a costly fumble when he was hit from behind by Harris while scrambling for yards in the second quarter.

Wilson ran in and scooped up the loose ball in stride, racing down the left sideline for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 4 minutes left in the half.

"Everybody's been down on us about our run defense," Wilson said. "We stepped up today. We came and played and we finished. That's what we needed to do. We haven't done it in a while and it was a great win."

The play was a substantial momentum swing, coming one play after Wake Forest had a 73-yard touchdown pass from Mauk to Chris Davis called back on an illegal blocking penalty.

"If we take care of business, we're kicking off right there with a lot of momentum," Grobe said. "It's just one of those deals where everything we did to shoot ourselves in the foot worked. We shot ourselves in the foot really well."

The Terrapins increased their lead on Dan Ennis' second field goal with 1:50 left, and led 13-3 at halftime after Sam Swank got the Demon Deacons on the board with a 42-yard kick on the final play of the half.

Wake Forest closed to within 16-10 on Barclay's run, but got no closer. The Terrapins responded two possessions later with a 77-yard touchdown drive, getting a 33-yard pass from Sam Hollenbach to Danny Melendez to set up Lattimore's 3-yard run for a 22-10 lead with 13:19 left.

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