Maryland hit rock bottom today.
Never penetrating the North Carolina State 30- yard line and coming up with only 133 offensive yards, the Terrapins lost, 7-0, to the Wolfpack. It was Maryland's third consecutive defeat.
It was the first time a Jerry Clairborne-coached Maryland team had been shut out in a regular-season game. The Terps are now 1-1 in the ACC, 3-3 for the season.
"They just whipped us," Clairborne said. "We're still not getting anything at all out of our passing game and it hurt us."
Clairborne was so frustrated with his offense that he benched his starting backfield in the fourth quarter, going to Bob Milkovich at quarterback, freshman Dave Daddio at full back and Wayne Wingfield at tailback.
"The players we had in there weren't doing anything for us so we tried something different," Claibrone said.
State, now 3-0 in the conference and 5-1 overall, got the only score it needed with 2:06 left in the third quarter when halfback Dwight Sullivan burst 14 yards off right tackle to cap an 11-play, 74-yard drive for the Wolfpack.
The dey play in the drive and, s thrings turned out, the game, was opn third and 17 at the State 47. Quarterback Scott Smith went back to pass and, finding no one open, scrambled 16 yards. As he hit the ground short of the first down, he was hit by several Maryland players. Linebacker Brian Matera was called for a late hit, moving the ball to the Terrapin 22-yard line. Three plays later, Sullivan scored.
"On the third-down play, I just tried to hit our tight end on a comeback pass," said Smith, who earlier had been victimized by Mike Corvino and Ralph Lary for his first two interceptions of the season. "He was covered well and I thought I could get outside their linemen. I just took off. I thought I got hit late and the ref called it."
"It was my fault," said freshman tackle Mark Duda. "I just blew containment and let him get outside. It shouldn't have happened. I think we all got a little be tired. We were on the field a lot."
The Maryland defense was on the field for 37 minutes and 58 seconds as the offense produced only six first downs. To add injury to insult, it appears that defensive back Sammy Johnson -- who replaced Lloyd Burruss when he was injured -- is out for the season after injuring a leg returning a fourth-quarter punt.
"It's just unbelievable what's been happening," said Corvino, who played another excellent game at defensive guard. "We've still got the talent out there. We just need to get some confidence back."
Clairborne showed little confidence today in his quarterback, Mike Tice. The Terps threw one pass in the first half and it came on third and eight from the State 31, two plays after Corvino's interception. Tice, going down as he threw, was intercepted by Woodrow Wilson, ending Maryland's only serious threat of the day.
"Why didn't we throw more?" Clairborne said in answer to a question. "What happened on the first pass we threw?"
Field postition also was a factor in Clairborne's conservative play-calling. Except for Corvino's interception Maryland started every possession of the first half inside its 25-yard line. Nevertheless, players in both locker rooms admitted that the Maryland offense has become predictable.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do almost all the time," said State linebacker David Horning. "We know they're going to keep coming at you until they have no chioce but to pass."
Several Maryland players noticed the problem too.
"I'm not sure why, but they always seemed to know when we were going to pass," said wingback Jan Carinci. "They were certainly prepared for what we were doing."
Carinci was involved in the game's final crucial play. Taking over on their 18 with 1:27 left, the Terps moved the ball to the State 49 with 36 seconds left -- the second time they had crossed midfield in the game.
Milkovich tried to pass to tight end Tom Burgess, who was cut down by defensive back Ronnie Lle. One official appeared to call Lee for pass interference but another raced in to say Carinci had committed a personal foul against Lee.
Instead of having a first down on the State 34, Maryland was back on its won 36. Ther Terps did not gain another yard.
"That was a big play," said Clairborne. "That took us out of any chance to do anything. Of course, we hadn't done anything for 58 minutes before that, either."
They certainly had not. Wysock was held to 45 yards on 19 carries. Tice was one for six for six yards, with the interception, and Milkovich was six for 17 for 43 yards, with one interception.
Neither team was impressive offensively. In fact, neither team threw a pass through the first 25 minutes of thegame. Of the 138 plays in the game, 105 were runs. The longest gain of the afternoon came on a 17-yard pass play.
The Maryland offense has now scored two touchdowns in three games. The defense, although it gave up 310 yards today -- 290 on the ground -- also came up with four turnovers.
"I don't know what the problem is," said Paul Glamp, a frustrated offensive guard. "We don't seem to have our confidence anymore. The defense is doing a good job. Heck, I really thought we could run on these guys."
Maryland tried to run. For the third straight week, the first offensive series was tailback-tailback-fullback-punt, and it did not change much after that.
"We did some thing pretty well I thought," said Tice, who has bluntly criticized himself in the past bur appeared confused over his benching today."I though I ran the option pretty well. We had a couple of bad breaks. I've said before I thought I was lousy. Today, I didn't think I was bad at all."
It was hard to judge either quarterback fairly. Tice was never given a chance to do muchmore than hand off. When Milkovich came in, State knew the pass was coming and that made his life difficult. Clairborn would not say which quarterback will start next week against Wake Forest.
"I don't know what my coming out meant," Tice said. "I hope I start next week."
"That's not up to me," Milkovich said. "I've been asked that all year.Until someone tells me different, I consider myself the backup."
"How can you make any judgment on Mike?" one player asked. "He was never given a chance today."
Whoever starts at quarterback will be leading a team crippled physically and hurting in spirit. The lack of offensive punch, the questions about the quarterbacking and the play-calling left many players shaking their heads as they walked slowly to the buses.
"I'm sick of this," safety Lary said. "I'm just sick and tired of losing."
The victors were predictably charitable, although State Coach Bo Rein pushed credibility to the limit when he claimed that the 39,800 fans -- the state fair and intuition apparently kept the crowd in 51,000-seat Carter Finley Stadium down -- had seen "one of the finest ACC games you'll ever see."
Smith, the quarterback, probably best described Maryland.
"They're just not the same team as in the past," he said. "They're not as physical, they don't come at you as hard. Of course, they're injured. But what they've had in the past wasn't there today.
"We tried to run at them and we did it. That's never happened before."
Trudging off the field, one Terp starter may have summed it up best when he said: "We're not a very pretty sight right now, are we?"