In this eight and final preliminary bout before the Penn State main event, unbeaten Maryland was once again led by the hands of the big brothers on defense.

The fifth-ranked Terrapins won their eighth game because their defenders and the kicking crew set up scoring drives of 18, 26 and 30 yards, as well as Ed Loncar's two field goals in a 27-0 rout of Duke in Wade Wallace Stadium yesterday.

Steve Atkins string of 100-yard games was cut at seven as the burly tailback carried 24 times for 74 yards, but he scored all three touchdowns on short runs in Maryland's 12th straight victory over two seasons.

Maryland jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, having gained 56 yards. Final statistics tell the tale of the Terps' offensive woes: Duke out-gained them 278 yards to 258, even without a score, and matched them in first downs with 16.

Last week the defense jumped on seven Wake Forest turnovers to lead the effort in its first shutout, and yesterday the defenders scooped up two passes and three fumbles to set the tone of the contest for the homecoming crowd of 23,600 that joined Maryland fans in singing "Amen" at the game's end.

Duke's second-leading tackler of the day, outside linebacker Derrick Mashore, said, "Maryland is over-rated.

"Atkins is not the best tailback we've faced. He's not as good as Georgia Tech's Eddie Lee Ivory. Their quarterback (Tim O'Hare) is good, but when you put pressure on him, he's not as good as (you say) he is.

"I don't want to take anything away from Maryland. They played like champions and took advantage of our turnovers."

O'Hare suffered through his worst effort a week ago, being intercepted twice in a game in whcih backup Mike Tice directed the longest scoring drive - 55 yards.

Yesterday, O'Hare was sacked seven times and forced to scramble into trouble as well as out of it, but his 106 yards passing complemented the Terps' 116 yards rushing. O'Hare complected eight of 18 passes and was intercepted once.

The Terps finally made use of tight end Eric Sievers, who had taped a number 7 over the 8 on his number 85 jersey last week in practice, indicating cynically that he was an ineligible receiver. Yesterday, No. 85 caught five balls for 59 yards, and wingback Jan Carinci, who hadn't caught a pass in three games, had four receptions for 43.

The passing game, which will be all important against Penn State, seemed improved over last week.

"I overthrew a couple a couple re- "overthrew a couple receivers and had some dropped," said O'Hare, "but overall I don't think I played badly.

"No, I didn't have a whole lot of time to throw. We had a couple individual breakdowns at times. On occcasion, they were beating our offensive tackles and forcing me out of the pocket.

"Can we move against Penn State? That remains to be seen. We'll be there."

Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne also pointed to line play as a probable cause of both Atkins' and O'Hare's less-than-breathtaking performances.

"We don't have any consistency in our offense and we'll have to correct that," said Claiborne. "Steve didn't have a lot of blocking and we felt we would throw better today. Our biggest problem was with our interior linemen.

"would like to have look better, shaper."

Backup center Chris Grey said the line is fine, or least it would be next week.

"I just think everyone looked forward to Penn State," said Grey. "How can you get up for playing Duke?"

Duke dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but got a rather exciting performance from quarterback Stan Driskell, filling in for the benched Mike Dunn. Despite his two fumbles and two interciptions, Driskell lit up the gloomy skies with 39 passes and completed 22 for 212 yards.

Claiborne was not wild about that, but it is difficult to find too much fault with a defense that has not given up a touchdown in the last 11 quarters, and has done half the job for the offense, as well.

Maryland defensive back Lloyd Burruss, who set up a field goal with an interception and a touchdown with a 56-yard punt return, admitted that the defense and kicking teams were carrying more than their weight.

"If we weren't making th big plays, it might be rough," said Burruss, "but we'd still win. Twenty-seven points don't come from nohing.

Loncar's 26-yard field goal that opened the scoring came after safety John Baldante, playing in place of injured starter Ralph Lary, recovered a Driskell fumble at the Duke 15. Dean Richards was thrown for a loss on third and two, bringing in Loncar.

Atkins scored the next two toughdowns on one-yard runs, the first coming after Burruss' punt return to the Duke 18 and the next set up by Ed Gall's recovery of a Driskell fumble at the Duke 26.

That made it 17-0 with 4:30 left in the first quarter, and the only suspense that ley ahead was in seeing how long it would take to break up the mock fight between duke's Blue Devil mascot and Maryland's Terrapin.

Burrgus and overthrown Driskell pass at the Duke 48 and after O'Hare's third-snd-tree pass to Richards was broken up, Loncar kicked a 47-yard field goal. The 20-0 margin stood at the half.

Atkins' final tally, a three-yard run, came five plays after Neal Olkewics recovered Greg Rhett's fumble at the Duke 31.

Claiborne emptied his bench in the fourth quarter, and Tice completed all five of his throws for 36 yards. The Terps tried for another touchdown on a fake field goal, but holder John Papuchis' pass to Sievers was broken up by a fine play by defensive back Rick Sommers.