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Terps finally bust through in final eight

October 03, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It was time to cue the scary music.

There were a little more than eight minutes remaining in the game. The University of Maryland football team was leading was close to the lead.

And then suddenly, the defense hit the Twilight Zone.

The doors flew off the bus as if it were spinning in the Wizard of Oz's tornado. It happened against Clemson in Week 2 of the season and again against West Virginia in Week 3.

But Saturday, in Week 5 against Virginia, Maryland answered the bell and locked the doors. The Terps played just enough defense and showed a whole lot of offense to hold off the No. 19 Cavaliers for a 45-33 victory to cement a homecoming victory at Byrd Stadium. The win put some demons to rest when it came to the Terrapins and the spin of their season.

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"I'm glad it all happened that was," Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "It showed us that there is no time to relax. We have to get up and have to be up each week in the (Atlantic Coast Conference)."

It was a situation where Maryland needed to prove that there was no place like home to the home fans after allowing the two earlier games get away.

Maryland led Clemson by 10 points heading into the final eight minutes but lost, 28-24. Against West Virginia, the Terps were in the game, but allowed the Mountaineers to overpower them in the final stretch for a 31-19 win.

Those were two situations in which the Terps had dominated in coach Ralph Friedgen's early years at Maryland. It was an aspect the Terps needed to regain.

"No words needed to be said," said Jackson, the All-American candidate, who had 14 tackles. "It was, just finish the game."

As defenses go, Saturday's win won't be considered the most stellar of performances. Virginia collected 406 yards in a scoring shootout.

Instead of stopping the Cavs cold, the Terps just kind of stuck out their collective leg and tripped Virginia. Maryland had just scored on Lance Ball's 35-yard run to take a 38-26 lead with 8:44 remaining.

It was almost like the evil organ music was ready to take it's cue.

"I was worried about that today," Friedgen admitted.

But it was good enough in this game for two reasons. First, in a game dominated by offense, the Terps just needed to make superficial stops to come out ahead. Maryland slowed Virginia drives, forcing the Cavs to settle for four field goals instead of touchdowns.

Plus, Maryland's offense played so well, it was the first home game the defense didn't wilt on the field because of lopsided time of possession.

"When you go out and just give up three (points via field goal) instead of six (touchdown), it is always a positive," Jackson said. "In the other games, we came so close, but today we knew we had the offense moving so all we needed to do is go out and make a stop. When the offense is on the field and eating he clock, that's more rest for us."

The Terps were able to contain Marques Hagans, Virginia's crafty quarterback, for what may become a huge benchmark for Maryland.

"This win means a lot," Jackson said. "It gives us momentum. It's two wins in a row. Last year, we needed momentum, but we were never able to win two in a row. We got the momentum last week and now it seems like we have everybody out there making plays.

"The defense has to step up more. First, we got a little rhythm. If we can cut down on the mistakes and the big plays, we will be all right."

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