The back-up quarter-back and a fifth-year receiver on his first regular-season road trip teamed up for the winning 43-yard touchdown pass as Maryland rallied for a 21-14 victory over Clemson today.
Before securing their opener and 21st straight Atlantic Coast Conference win, Maryland trailed 14-7 in the third quarter - thanks partly to a 93-yard interception return of a pass not in this week's Terp playbook.
Startin quarterback Mark Manges, limping on a swoolen left foot, asked to be taken out of the game in the third quarter after his Pregame pain-killer shot wore off.
Backup Larry Dick entered and immediately drove the ninth-ranked Terps 57 yards to tie it at 14-14.
Dick canceled nearly half that distance on a 23-yard sideline pass to split end Vince Kinney, the longest of his Six-catch, 92-yard day.
The score came on third down and 19 from Clemson's 25 as Dick hit and open Chuck White at the five-yard line.
Maryland gained good field position for the drive at its 43 after Lloyd Burruss blocked a 56-yard field goal attempt by Clemson's Obed Ariri.
Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne credited Burruss with turning the game around.
Clemson coach Charley Pell, in his ACC head coaching debut, put it a different way.
"The game boiled down to five or six plays, with me making a dumb call for the field goal on fourth down," he said, "That was the turning point in my opinion."
Indeed, after Maryland tied the game, Clemson was able to muster only two first downs before the Terps scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It took Dick just three plays to get the winner on the board, from the Maryland 38-yard line.
Dick heaved an 18-yard pass to the remarkable Kinney, handed off to the well-healed (88 yards) Steve Atkins for a yard, and then connected with the heretofore neglected Jim Hegan on a 43-yard sideline pattern that caught the Clemson safety running the wrong way.
pell described the play as "inexcusable."
Hagan, who has never lettered, and does not even own a '76 ACC championship ring, called it "the greatest. Ecstacy. My dream come true, I love it."
Hagan led the Maryland fight song afterward in the Terps' locker room, where the jubiliation was slightly dented by and apparently serious injury to offensive lineman Kervin Wyatt.
Wyatt, who had won a starting position at quick tackle and played some at strong guard, hurt his left knee during a Maryland punt and may require surgery. If he is operated upon, the school will apply for a red-shirt
Taking advantage of 10 yards in Clemson penalties, Maryland began the game conservatively, clinging steadily to the ground as Manges completed just one pass, of nine yards, to Kinney on the 16-play, 64-yard drive.
The Tigers blew one chance to tie, or at least get three points when quarterback Steve Fuller fumbled on fourth and one at Maryland's 26. Brad Carr, who thought he played "terrible" but coldn't find anyone to agree, recovered for the Terps.
Clemosn did not tread on Maryland's territory again until the last few seconds of the half.
With less than 20 seconds left, Maryland had driven to Clemson's seven-yard line, where it was third and four. As the entire line rolled right, Manges threw to Kinney at the left sideline, where sophomore corner-left Rex Varn picked off the pass and went 93' yards for a Clemson score.
The play scored against Cincinnati last year, and one player recalled it worked last year against Clemson. Claiborne said later, "it was a poor call by me; that was my fault."
Varn, who started last year as a freshman, read the play perfectly.
"I knew that on third-down plays they like to go to Kinney," said Varn. "When everyone else went the other way, I saw him drop back and I knew they wouldn't leave him out of the play. I was just hoping to break up the pass or tackle Kinney. When I got the ball, I knew I had a chance to score because everyone else had gone the other way. I'm not the fastest, but I'm not that slow, either."
Manges later confirmed something Varn had suspected: Manges never saw Varn until he caught the ball.
"This is the first time in my career I've ever had an interception returened for a touchdown," said Manges. "And this is the last one."
That tied the score at 7.7 as the halftime cannon went off.
In the second half, the pumped-up Tigers scored on their first drive, moving 62 yards in eight plays, including passes of 8,10 and 14 yards from Fuller to split and Jerry Butler. On first and goal from the one, Carr and Neal Olkewiez stopped ball carriers on successive plays before tailback Lester Brown leaped into the air, sticking the ball past the goal line as Carr slapped him back down.
Manges played one more series before volunteering to sit down, having completed seven of 17 passes for 83 yards.
"I couldn't do roll outs and sprintouts the way I wanted to," said Manges. "I realized I couldn't help the team."
Dick, two years agot the Terps' starter, completed five of seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Dick and Carr and anyone else who could get a word in raved about the new offensive line, which did not look as if only one starter - a hobbled Mike Yeates - had returned. Neither Maryland quarterback was sacked.
Maryland had been approximately nine-point favorite to beat Clemson, which hasn't defeated Maryland since 1971. But Claiborne had expected a difficult game on the Tigers' home field.
"When we came back after we were down, 147. 1 thought we showed real class." said Claiborne. "I am very proud of this team."