The Steve Atkins express rolled over Duke yesterday.
When the carnage was cleared away the rejuvenated Mayland tailback had led his teammates to the doorstep of a fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title, rushing for 116 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-13 victory over duke.
The Terrapins, who led 10-0 before Duke ran three plays from scrimmage, are now 3-7 in the ACC and can determine their fate in next Saturday's game against North Carolina, the league leader at 2.0. The Terps, 4.3 overall, are now tied with Clemson in teh ACC standing ahead of North Carolina State (3.2).
Maryland took a 24.7 halftime lead and the Byrd Stadium homecoming crowd of 44,367 did not see the Terps punt until late in the third quarter, when Maryland's control of the game slipped just a bit.
Duke played without its first-string linebackers and running backs, but with Atkins charging. Larry Dick hitting 12 of 15 passes for 249 yards and the defense pressuring Duke's Mike Dunn into another frightful day at quarterback: injuries probably didn't make a significant difference.
"Injuries had no effect on the outcome," said Duke coach Mike McGee. "They might have affected the score Maryland didn't have (quarterback) Mark Manges, either. Yet they obviously outplayed us, outcoached us and beat us soundly."
Atkins deflated Duke's defense immediately, turning three third-downplays into first downs on the way to Ed Loncar's 25-yard field goal after a 61-yard drive following the opening kickoff.
On Duke's secord play from scrimmage. Mike Addesa fumbled and Charlie Johnson recovered for Maryland at Duke's 36.
Dick took the Terps to the six-yard line, throwing daringly on third and one to Chuck White for 21 yards at the left sideline. Atkins then carried three times, scoring on a one-yard dive for a 10.0 lead before Duke hadthrown a pass or managed a first down.
"Atkins gave us fits." said Duke's right end. Derrick Mashore. "The defense never got momentum."
Maryland went ahead, 17.0 on Preacher Maddox's one-yard run, set up by a 61-yard pass play from Dick to tight endEric Sievers.
When Duke finally got on the Scoreboard, the Blue Devlis did not so in such a dubious fashion that Maryland probably came away with more satisfaction.
The Blue Devils took 17 plays to move 42 yards, using an interception to begin the drive and pass interference penalties of tight and seven yards to drag it along to Maryland's seven-yard line. On fourth and two, Dunn floated a balloon to Derrick lewis, who was open in the end zone because Lloyd Burruss had fallen down, Maryland 17, Duke 7.
"Dunn's passing ability isn't that good. We weren't worried about his passing," said linebacker Brad Carr."We were worried about his running. We wanted to take the game to him. We ran stunts on him, basically put the heat on him."
And Dunn all but disintegrated. He finished the day with 13 completions on 22 passes for 124 yards, but most of them came after the game was decided. At key moments, he missed receivers by yards. His running, which is feared, was not a factor.
Atkins, on the other hand, helped himself to two more touchdowns (he requested the last one) to give his team a 31.7 lead in the third quarter.
Working against the haltime clock. Dick showed the poise of a lifetime starter in directing the Terps 74 yards in 1 minute 37 seconds. Atkins carried twice for a quick 23 yards and Maryland of 23 more top the Duke 28 when Vince Kinney made a remarkable catch with Dan Brooks all but sitting on his head.
On third and eight, Dick hit white for 24 yards at the two-yard line. The defender on the play, Larry Doby, was in on the first series in his collegiate career. With 52 seconds left, Atkins leaped over a pile of people from two yards out for the 24.7 halftime advantage.
Atkins' third-quarter touchdown should never have happened. Dick was intercepted on the drive, bur the play was called back becakuse Lyman smith roughted the passenger that it put his helmet into Dick's chin after he had thrown - giving Maryland a first down at Duke's 19 and Dick a cut that required stitches.
Atkins gained five on yet another third-and two play and later swept right to score on fourth and two.
"On the sidelines, they were talking about going for a field goal," said Atkins, who can be painfully shy, but not when Maryland talks field goal. "I told them no.
"I told them I wanted to carry it and coach said. "Go ahead, I just had a feeling I could score."
The Terps sustained a couple of injuries to their defensive line. Tackle Ernie Salley sprianed a knee and guard larry Seder sprained an ankle.
Coach Jerry Clalborne was concerned about seder's available for the North Carolina game, but had cause to be in a good mood.
"In the first half, we did things the way we like to do them." said Claiborne. "Weran good, we threw the baoil pretty good. "We're pround of Steve Atkins and happy with the win."