Things first went wrong for Tulane Friday morning when its chartered aircraft sat on the ground for an hour. The engines would not start.
It was virtually the same story for the Green Wave at Byrd Stadium yesterday as Maryland launched its season with a 31-7 victory before a crowd of 31,458.
Besides capitalizing on Tulane penalties, including violations for having 12 men on the field and a player wearing the wrong jersey number, Maryland dominated thoughout. It sacked Tuland quarterback Roch Hontas seven times for losses totaling 49 yards and got perfect performances from two offensive backs with something to prove.
Terrapin quarterback Tim O'Hare, the fifth-year player with no letter on his sweater made his first college start. He completed seven of 11 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Tailback Steve Atkins, perturbed by news media accounts of his injuries and ability, rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries. Included was a 12-yard touchdown run.
The surprise, however, was not how well O'Hare and Atkins played, but how accommodating Tulane was. With high hopes of improving on last year's 3-8 mark, Tulane came to College Park with the nation's leader - Hontas - in pass completion percentage.
Hontas completed 63.4 percent of his passes last year, mostly by scrambling and releasing quickly. But Maryland swarmed all over him, overwhelming an offensive line that averages 6-foot-4, 240 pounds.
Maryland took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on O'Hare's 13-yard touchdown pass, thrown in the flat to Eric Sievers; and Loyd Burruss' 47-yard punt return.
Burruss' run came after an embarrassing Tulane penalty, nullifying a 57-yard punt by Frank Wills.
A Tulane man in the interior line was called for wearing a jersey not designated for interior linemen and the punt was called back.
This time, Wills' punt went only 35 yards, and Burruss returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. "My guys just opened it up for me," said Burruss, who flew down the right sideline and scored after Jimmy Shaffer blocked the only man in his path at the five. "All I had to do was catch the ball and run."
Moments earlier, Tulane had chosen to punt on fourth and one at the Maryland 32, and the writing seemed to be on the wall. Tulane placekicker Ed Murray has a pulled hamstring muscle, and Coach Larry Smith did not want Murray to stretch it on a long field-goal attempt.
He did not say why they didn't go for the first down.
Atkins scored moments into the second quarter for a 20-0 lead. Tulane, keeping the ball for 11:49 of the second quarter, made it 20-7 at halftime on Hontas' bomb to Alexis.
"It was a perfect pass, and I got twisted around," said Burruss, the detender on the play. "I should have had the ball. It was my mistake."
The blow that compounded Tulane's frustration came in the third quarter. Tulane had 12 men on the field on a Terps punt and were assessed a 15-yard penalty.
It gave Maryland a first down and the Terps scored at the end of the 77-yard drive on O'Hare's flare pass to Maddox.
Ed Loncar, who missed an extrapoint attempt and a 49-yard field goal earlier, atoned for it with a 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne had said earlier in the week that he might start freshman Charlie Wysocki if Atkins' jammed toe was not healed, and Atkins seemed upset by the whole thing.
"There are no problems with my toe. Only the newspapers make problems," said Atkins. "I'm sick of the whole bit. I felt real good today and I'm just looking forward to the games."
And O'Hare's reaction to the day?
"Just joy," he said. "We were bigger and stronger on the line, and we figured we'd just run right at them, and go with the short passes, which is what they gave us. That's the way it was supposed to go and that's the way it went.
"I think the big play was Lloyd's return. That relaxed us, took the pressure off."
Hontas got off only six passes before leaving in the third quarter with leg cramps. He completed three and hurt the Terps only once. His 40-yard scoring pass to Alton Alexis in the second quarter drew Tulane to within 20-7.
"They were pretty big but not too quick," Maryland defensive guard Bruce Palmer said of Tualne's veteran line. "I don't think they've faced the wide tackle six (defense) much. They didn't know where we were going next. You could tell, because they'd step aside."
Maryland executed its game plan perfectly. It ran up the middle and wide, and completed short- and medium-range passes. Tulane's deep secondary was experienced and quick, so the Terps left it alone.
"I thought they were going to be much better," said tailback senior tailback Alvin (Preacher) Maddix, who carried six times for 26 yards and scored on a 15-yard swing pass. "They were kind of small, and I don't think they were very quick."
Maddox' touchdown in the third quarter was Maryland's last of the day.
"At first I didn't think I was going anywhere," said Maddox. "But Eric (Sievers, tight end) came across and blocked their cornerback and I cut inside. I remember being hit, but I spun around and went in easily.
"I'm happy that we won and I played, but I thought I should have played a little more. I haven't said much about it. I try to forget about all that and just work hard."
But Adams missed a 36-yard field goal that was wide to the left with 8:09 left in the game. The missed field goal attempt had been set up when West Virginia punter Curt Carion bobbled a snap from center in his end zone and was forced to take a safety with 10:34 left that cut the Mountaineers' lead to 14-12.
A 54-yard pass play from Richmond quarterback James Short to Demetri Kornegay, formerly of Coolidge (D.C.) High, posed another Spider threat, but a Mountaineer fumble recovery with 26 seconds left and the visitors in field goal range saved the day for West Virginia.