Maryland football comes back to defeat Duke, 21-16

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 2, 2010; 11:59 PM


Given the defensive struggles of both teams, Maryland's ACC opener against Duke on Saturday night was expected to electrify Byrd Stadium with offensive pyrotechnics.

While it failed in that regard, the game did deliver dramatic swings of momentum, a riveting final drive and, for Terrapins fans, a feel-good ending, with Maryland overcoming an anemic first half on both sides of the ball to prevail, 21-16.

In doing so, Maryland (4-1, 1-0) doubled its victory total from last year and helped its possibility of a bowl invitation - something that seemed remote after last year's 2-10 campaign.

For a second consecutive week, redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien was tapped to start and played the full game, although Coach Ralph Friedgen acknowledged that Jamarr Robinson was available.

O'Brien failed to replicate the effectiveness he displayed last weekend against Florida International. He threw errant balls. He missed open receivers. His biggest play - a completion that running back Da'Rel Scott turned into a 71-yard touchdown - was on his fourth read. And when the final stats were tallied, O'Brien completed just 9 of 26 passes for 170 yards.

But Friedgen took pains to point out O'Brien's strengths in managing the game. He didn't turn over the ball; he didn't take a sack. And the coach demonstrated his faith by playing the 20-year-old throughout, though he declined afterward to name him the presumptive starter over Robinson, who injured his throwing shoulder in the Sept. 18 loss at West Virginia.

"I'm very happy with what Danny is doing, don't get me wrong," Friedgen said. "Let him mature at his own pace. I just don't need to make that announcement now."

What mattered Saturday wasn't style; it was the outcome.

After giving up three answered first-half field goals, Maryland stormed back to score three unanswered touchdowns and hang on for the victory, with defenders Alex Wujciak and Antwine Perez conspiring to snuff out Duke's potential game-winning drive in the final two minutes.

"It wasn't pretty," Friedgen conceded. "But a win is a win."

Duke (1-4, 0-2) has now lost four games in a row.

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