Steve Atkins, whose heart was questioned by some this year, let his legs do the talking today.

Atkins, a sophomore sensation last year before a knee injury benched him at midseason, ran for 142 yards on 29 carries, igniting Maryland over Wake Forest. 35-7, at Groves Stadium.

Atkins has complained of a knee injury much of the season although some members of the Maryland staff have questioned the severity of his physical problems. He started today's game only because Preacher Maddox is hurting.

The victory, their third in six games this year, coupled with North Carolina State's 27-14 defeat by North Carolina moved the Terrapins back into the Atlantic Coast Conference race.

Carolina is 2-0 in the ACC; State 3-1 and Maryland looking for its fourth straight championship, is 2-1 with home games against Duke and the Tar Heels coming up in the next two weeks.

Atkins, who lost his starting job earlier this year, compiled 125 of his 142 yards in the first half, including touchdown runs or two and 20 yards in the second period when the Terrapins took a 21-7 halftime lead.

Prior to this afternoons game. Maryland's defense had only one interception. But following Atkins' second TD that made it 13-0, linebacker Neal Olkewiez prevented a Wake Forest score with an interception at Maryland's six and halfback John Standord set up a touchdown with a theft at Wake's 46, both swiped from ACC passing leader Mike McGlanary.

Maryland quarterback Larry Dick, who got untracked after changing footballs during the game, passed 17 yards to roommate Chuck White and rifled a two-pointer to tight end Tom Burgess for a 21-0 lead.

Wake, 1-5, never came close to making a game of it.

"We felt they were going to throw the football on us and we thought we were going to have to get some interceptions," said Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne. "We used a little different type of coverage, playing a little tighter on the receivers. There's no question thatthe key to the game was the turnovers."

Lloyd Burrus, Joe Muffler, John Baldante, Olkewicz and Standford claimed their first interceptions of the season.

A Wake Forset team that looked explosive offensively, at least on paper, fizzled afield. McGlamry, who came into the contest leading the ACC in pass completions per game, completed only five of 17 and threw three interceptions in the first half before he left with a jammed thumb.

With the Deacons within two touchdowns of the Terps, McGlamry hit an open Steve Young, the leading receiver in the conference, who inexplicably rolled over in the end zone and dropped the ball. No one touched him, but he sustained a severe cut in the mouth and left woozy, returning only briefly.

Wake tailback James McDougald. who came into the contest the ACC rushing leader, left with 62 yards on 17 carries in a performance not half as glittery as that of Atkins.

"I don't care if I get 100 yards as long as I play good and we win," said Atkins, who had been guarding his knees after nagging injuries in the first part of the season. "It (fear of injury) is something that's might hard to overcome. I think it's all behind me now."

His first touchdown, a two-yard springboard dive on third and goal, capped a 75-yard march.

It was kept alive, on third and nine, by a somesault catch by White, who took a pass from Dick at the right sideline for a 24-yard gain. The Dick-to-White combination, four years in the workshop, connected three times for 54 yards. Another of their special ties, for an apparent touchdown, was nullified in the third quarter.

"I anticipate him better than the other guys because I know him better than any receiver on the team," said Dick, who played with a bruished hip and finished eight of 13 for 114 yards and two interceptions.

"We know each other pretty well," said White. "I haven't been playing up to my potential and I felt I had to have a good day. Larry's hip was hurting him pretty bad."

Maryland's second scoring dirve was bolstered by a 35-yard pass interference penalty on halfback Mark Lancaster, who accidently tripped receiver Vince Kinney.

That put the Terps at Wake's 29. and two plays later on third and one. Atkins took a play designed to run up the middle and turned it wide left swatting off the only Deacon who touched him. rover Mark Mattiko, barely past the line of scrimmage.

"It's all my fault," said Mattiko. "I had containment on him all the way but I took the inside."

Maryland placekicker Ed Loncar erred on the PAT for the only time so fart this ball," Loncar said later.

After Stanford lifted a pass at Wake's 46, the Terps used four plays for the toouchdown that put the game away.

Atkins swept right for 15 yards, Dick bulls-eyed White for 13 yards, George Scott carried a yard and Dick threw 17 yards to White in the end zone after White had been bumped around the found his way clear of three defenders.