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Demon Deacons leave Maryland in their wake

November 26, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The battle with Wake Forest for the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division title Saturday became a wake for the Maryland football team's league title hopes.

In a classic battle of college football "can you top this?" the Demon Deacons found a way to trump every Maryland score to take a 38-24 victory and earn a berth against Georgia Tech in next weekend's ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville, Fla.

Wake Forest, the only ACC team that's been more of a shocking upstart than Maryland this season, beat the Terps more times to the perimeter and got some clutch play from freshman quarterback Riley Skinner to become the king of the hill in the Atlantic.

Maryland's run defense in the middle - one of the Terps' strengths, particularly during the recent five-game ACC win streak to get in title contention - was rendered useless. The Deacons used sweeping runs by tailback Kenneth Moore, who ran for 165 yards, to spread the Maryland defense thin, then cracked the middle on key plays to move the ball down field.

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Skinner, meanwhile, stood in the teeth of Maryland's rush to make plays with both his arms and feet to keep the Terps on their heels while giving the Deacons an advantage. Skinner rushed for 30 yards and threw for 125, many coming on tough throws.

To Maryland's credit, it hung with the Deacons - trading scores back and forth - but had trouble gettng closer than seven points.

The Terps got the first score of the game before Wake answered with 21 straight points, built off the running game, to get a working margin.

Wake rushed for 296 yards against a Maryland defense which had allowed just 163.7 per game heading into Saturday's winner-take-all match. The Terps allowed Wake 421 yards of offense and five touchdowns.

The loss ended Maryland's run for an improbable ACC title, which would have come with a Bowl Championship Series trip to the Orange Bowl.

Maryland seems destined to play Navy in a renewal of an old state rivalry on Dec. 30 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. There are also outside chances the Terps could play in the Emerald Bowl or the Music City Bowl, depending on how the ACC's final standings shake out.

Still, it is a long way from where the Terps hoped to play, and yet, a long way from where the program had been in the last two years after 5-6 records and staying home for the holidays.

Maryland helped with its own demise Saturday with three Sam Hollenbach interceptions, but only one resulted in a Wake Forest score.

Maryland's charge ended last weekend when three Terps turnovers gave Boston College 21 points in a 38-16 loss. It put the Terps in a three-way tie for the division title with Boston College and Wake.

Boston College dropped out of the chase after a 17-13 loss to Miami on Thursday, before Maryland stepped aside on Saturday.

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