Clemson held the Terps in check for the first 48 minutes, allowing just 149 yards. Maryland came back with two touchdown drives over the last 12 minutes to tighten the score and account for 165 of its 314 yards of offense.
"We made some plays at the end that we should have been making all day," Maryland tight end Joey Haynos said.
Injuries have reduced the Terps' protection to a mere shell of itself. The veteran offensive line was one of Maryland's strong points heading into the season.
Now it's a sore point.
The Terps started with their two top guards - Andrew Crummey and Jaimie Thomas - sidelined with broken legs, which reduced Maryland to five healthy and experienced linemen. It put reserves Phil Costa and Jack Griffin into the starting lineup to fill those openings.
Before Saturday's first snap, left tackle Scott Burley, who was injured earlier in the season, was pulled from the starting lineup with an ankle injury suffered during practice this week.
That put freshman Bruce Campbell in the lineup. But he left with a leg injury which was first thought to be another broken leg - although he came back to try to play.
When Campbell was injured, Burley went out for one play, but coach Ralph Friedgen pulled him out of the game to make sure he didn't make his injury worse.
Tight end Dan Gronkowski left with a minor ACL strain, and Maryland's front line became even more depleted. In the end, freshman walk-on Paul Pinegar was called on to play, hampering Maryland's offense even more.
"That was one of the reasons we weren't throwing the ball," said Friedgen. "We were in protection mode. ... I didn't want to lose a quarterback."
The lack of experience cost Maryland in the running game. Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball were held to a combined 101 yards, though each back scored. Maryland finished with 97 yards on the ground.
It hurt the Terps on the short-yardage plays they needed to convert to keep drives alive.
"(Clemson) had their starting defensive line out there and they are all all-ACC caliber," Lattimore said. "We had guys out on the line filling in. ... It's frustrating, but there wasn't much we can do about it."
On Maryland's last touchdown drive, it took Lattimore two tries from the 1 to get in - the second attempt had to be reviewed.
"Let me put it in these terms," Lattimore said of the short-yardage plays. "I think we have shown that when we have our starting five linemen, I think we can run on anybody. I think with an experienced line, we are fine."
Friedgen agreed, to the point where he became emotional about the Terps.
"We are not the team we were physically, but emotionally and in heart, we still are the same team. I don't condone losing, but I told the guys that we will come back and be a better team for this.
"We need to get some people back."