Maryland came seeking revenge today, and, led by the ball-hawking defense of Ralph Lary, the kicking of Dale Castro and the running of Charlie Wysocki, it got it.
Lary's three interceptions, Castro's four field goals and Wysocki's 178 yards rushing helped the Terrapins manhandle the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Tigers, 19-0. The victory ended Clemson's 11-game winning streak, longest in the nation.
The win, in front of 52,474 fans in Clemson's Death Valley, avenged last November's 28-24 Clemson victory in College Park in the game that decided the ACC championship.
"They took the ACC championship away from us up there and then said a lot of things we didn't like too much," said tight end Eric Sievers. "We came down here to get it back."
The Terps got it back -- at least for this week -- thanks to Castro's field goals, a school record. Two of them were set up by Castro's own punts and two by Lary's interceptions.
Castro, Lary and an aroused defense offset Maryland's sputtering offense, which fumbled five times (they managed to recover all five) and was sacked 12 times. Only Wysocki, the seemingly indestructible tailback, had any luck with the tough Clemson defense, carrying 32 times for 178 yards.
His backup, Tim Wingfield, put the icing on the cake with a 31-yard burst for the only Maryland touchdown, with 1:55 left in the game.
The victory raised Maryland's overall record to 2-0 and gave the Terps a 1-0 jump in ACC play. It was Clemson's first ACC loss since Maryland's last trip here in 1977.
"There are three things about this game," wingback Jan Carinci said. "We won in front of this crowd, in this stadium and on TV (regional). There are a lot of people back home who said we couldn't do any of those things."
Detracting from the victory was a familiar Maryland problem: injuries. Safety John Baldante injured a knee in the first quarter, Sievers hurt a knee in the third quarter and defensive halfback Steve Trimble separated his right shoulder in the fourth quarter. Trimble will be out three to four weeks. Sievers and Baldante will be examined Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.
The Maryland defense was in control today almost from the beginning. After Tiger quarterback Billy Lott burst 35 yards to the Maryland 21 on the home team's first play, the defense dug in.
First, it stopped Clemson tailback Lester Brown short of a first down at the 12. In came Tiger placekicker Obed Ariri for a seemingly automatic 29-yard field goal.
Ariri missed to the right.
The defense came up with morale-boosting plays throughout the game. Later in the first quarter the Tigers had fourth and two at the Maryland 29. They elected to go for it and Lott swept right.
Lary, who normally alternates with Baldante but played the whole game today, was one on one with Lott in the open field. Lott never got close to the yard marker as Lary slammed him down.
That was Clemson's last threat of the first half as Maryland slowly took control.
"Ralph Lary just played a super game," Coach Jerry Claiborne of Maryland said. "It wasn't just the interceptions either. He made some hits out there that had the Clemson players thinking. Don't forget they dropped some key passes out there."
The Terps overcame their jitters in the second period. First, Castro pinned Clemson at its own two-yard line with nine minutes left in the half.
Once again, Clemson could not move, so David Sims punted to the Maryland 44. From there, with Wysocki doing the work, the Terps moved to the Clemson 26 before stalling.Castro was perfect from 43 yards and with 5:40 left in the half Maryland led, 3-0.
"I've worked pretty hard in practice with coach (Terry) Strock on hanging my punts up real high around the 10-yard line to give our guys a chance to get down under them or let the other guys make a mistake" said Castro, a junior who made the team as a walk-on in 1977. "I like doing all the kicking. I've been waiting three years (behind Ed Loncar) for a chance to kick field goals."
Much to Claiborne's chagrin, Castro got another chance to kick a field goal with 1:23 left in the half. Wysocki's 45-yard dash had given Maryland first and goal on the Clemson seven.
After Wysocki was stopped at the one on third down, the field goal team ran onto the field. Claiborne, seeing the ball placed on the one, dashed out to the hashmark waving for a timeout.
His team didn't see him and Castro was good from 18 yards.
"At first I thought we were on the two so I was ready to kick the field goal," Claiborne said. "The referee took a long time to spot the ball. When I saw it on the one I wanted to go for it. But it was too late."
Clemson Coach Danny Ford made up for Maryland's loss of points. With 14 seconds left in the half and his team facing third and 16 at its own 26, he called time.
That gave Lott enough time to throw into coverage where Lary made his first interception of the day. He returned 25 yards to the Clemson 20, stepping out of bounds with two seconds left in the half.
"The whole game was unbelievable," said the normally quiet junior. "Really, I'm just stuck for words now. I'm still on cloud nine."
Castro's ensuing field goal, this one from 37 yards, put Maryland on cloud nine at halftime, 9-0.
"I made a mistake calling that pass at the end of the half," Ford said. "I made several mistakes today. The sun's going to shine tomorrow despite what happened today. But we made way too many mistakes."
Maryland that made the mistakes in the third quarter, but came away lucky. First, Wysocki fumbled on his own 20. Fullback Jeff Rodenberger fell on the fumble, Maryland's fourth.
Having escaped once, Wysocki repeated his act on Maryland's next possession, fumbling at the 20. "It wasn't that hard a hit," he said. "I had just hurdled someone and I got hit from behind. It just popped out."
A wild scramble ensued and when referee Robert Carpenter signaled Clemson ball, the stadium filled with cheers. The Maryland defense started on the field, as did Claiborne, running to the pileup. As the players unpiled it became apparent that Maryland's Kervin Wyatt was hugging the ball.
"I had it and the ref said okay, play's dead so I let go," said Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis. "The next thing I knew it was Maryland's ball."
"I had it all the way," Wyatt said.
"He had it all the way," Wysocki added. "The referee just gave the wrong signal."
Maryland punted two plays later and Clemson, with freshman quarterback Homer Jordan in the game, drove to the Maryland 35 as the third quarter ended.
The first play of the fourth quarter was the game's last crucial play. On third and one, Lester Brown, held to 35 yards today, burst off right tackle for eight yards, then fumbled. Pete Clamp of Maryland jumped on it and the Tigers were finished.
"I thought I was down before I fumbled," Brown said. "They seemed to get every close call their way. But heck, they really hit all day."
"We've got so many young kids on this team they don't realize how good they can be yet," said Brian Matera, one of three seniors on the Maryland defensive. "Hey, these guys are dumb I guess. They don't realize they're supposed to be blocked by Clemson's offensive line.
"Today, it was just 11 wild men going after the ball. That was the story of this game."