The Maryland Terrapins had to struggle, scramble and squeeze a school-record yards out of hot-and-cold quarterback Tim O'Hare to overcome a seven-point deficit and beat Virginia, 17-7, at Scott Stadium yesterday.
It took the 2-7 Virginia Cavaliers just 1 minute 24 seconds to do what they hadn't done in three years: score against Maryland.
The Gavs took a 7-0 lead and played one wild and crazy football game, forcing Maryland to rally for 10 second-half points, the insurance touchdown coming with just 18 seconds left in the game.
The Terps upped their overall mark to 9-1 and will play Clemson Saturday in College Park for the Atlantic Coast Conference title in a match up of conference unbeatens.
But early yesterday, the Clemson game seemed years away as one observer quipped, "Yes, Marland, there is a Virginia."
O'Hare did not have the energy for quips after his record day, completing 17 of 32 passes for 222 yards and rushing 14 times for 102 yards. He also tied a record for most interceptions against a Maryland player in one game: four.
Asked how he felt afterward, his first reaction was, "Sore."
"If we play against Clemson like we did today," said O'Hare, "we will be killed."
Maryland's defense and kicking teams gave up some yards in big chunks. Halfback Tommy Vigorito, with the help of a 70-yard run from serimmage (Virginia's longest of the year), rushed for 146 yards on 21 carriers.
Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick said it was his team's best defensive effort in the three seasons he has coached the Cavs, and they took particular delight in stopping Spotsyivania, Va., native Steve Atkins.
Atkins gained 71 yards, passing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his college career with 1,064, but he had to carry 23 times to do it and had just one long run.
Asked if Atkins looked any better than he had recently, O'Hare offered an unusual "no comment." Atkins said of himself, "I've been running hard, but nothing is happening. We get out there, and we can't move. I let everybody think what they want. Right now, our offense is kind of mediocre."
Virginia players were a mile above Maryland emotionally ("Wasn't that plain?" Maryland's Charlie Johnson asked), and irked at the prospect of the Terrapins running up the score to impress bowl scouts after last week's 27-3 drubbing by Penn State.
But the lossa to Penn State had the opposite effect on Maryland.
"It took a lot out of us," said O'Hare. "And speaking for myself, I didn't have my mind on our business. I think we came in here thinking we had a win chalked up."
It was with some satisfaction that Virginia's safety-turned-linebacker, Tony Blount, said of Maryland's bowl prospects. "I estimate we cost them half a million dollars. We cost them a big bowl."
hat remains to be seen but Maryland surely did not look like a Sugar Bowl prospect in the first half.
Sean McCall returned the opening kickoff 85 yards to Maryland's 15-yard line and, three easy plays later, running back Dan Hottowe bulled up the middle from three yards out. The extra point made it a 7-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game.
Maryland came back to tie on its second possession and eventually won primarily because UVA's offense, though improved, simply didn't have enough. Two Virginia quarterbacks and one halfback combined completed just one of nine passes for 14 yards, and Maryland's offense was on the field most of the day - running 83 plays to UVA's 55.
The trying touchdown capped a 67-yard, 13-play drive in which O'Hare completed three of six passes for 33 yards and reeled off runs of 11 and 12 yards. Alvin (Preacher) Maddox had to gain a yard on fourth and one to get the Terps to the Virginia 17, and after O'Hare scrambled 12 yards, Massox scored two players later, running sideways from the two.
That made it 7-7 with 4:24 left in the first quarter and the score was the same at the half after a wild quarter of football.
In that second quarter, O'Hare threw three interceptions, was sacked twice and lost his usual cool after being penalized for intentional grounding. That was how Maryland stopped itself.
Virginia stopped itself by missing 40 and 33-yard field goals, and throwing one interception.
O'Hare's second interception was the most interesting. Defensive tackle Grant Hudson, about seven feet infront of O'Hare, batted a pass thrown with one Virginia defender tugging at O'Hare's free arm. Hudson batted the ball a few yards backward, then dived and caught it for the first interception of his three-year college career.
It went for nothing, however, because on the next play Hottowe's halfback option pass was swiped by Twerp Steve Trimble.
Two plays passed before there was another interception. Intended receiver Jan Carinci saw O'Hare in trouble, as usual, and slowed down, only to see a bomb fly over his head and into the hands of defensive back Bryan Shumack, one of UVA's quarterback last year.
At halftime, the UVA band saluted "the best team in the state of Maryland," forming an "N" and playing "Anchors Away."
In the second half, Maryland capitalized on Hottowe's fumble at the Virginia 21, recovered by Brad Senft, to set up Ed Loncar's 30-yard field goal. The series bogged down on third and two when Atkins was stopped after one yard.
The Terp's next possession was a long, eventful one - O'Hare threw 23 yards to Eric Sievers on fourth and one, completed two other passes and ran for 17 yards - but it all came to nothing after a potential TD pass was batted out of Dean Richards' hands and Loncar's 27-yard field-goal attempt was wide right.
Virginia's last chance to go ahead came with 3:13 left in the game after defensive back Derrick Glasper got position on Richards and intercepted O'Hare in the end zone. Starting at the their 20, the Vavs went for a first down on fourth and six but Marlin Van Horn sacked backup quarterback Chip Mark, setting up Maryland's easy 14-yard march for its final touchdown, a fouryard run by Maddox after O'Hare carried twice.
"I'm just happy to get the win," said Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne. "We had planned on throwing the football. We anticipated them playing the 5-3 defense with the gap eight bringing everybody at you, stopping the inside run and giving us the corners. We did not throw as well as we wanted to."