Tailback Charlie Wysocki and quarterback Mike Tice came up with big offensive plays as Maryland ended its football season yesterday by winning, 17-7, over a Virginia team hampered by injury to its regular quarterback, Todd Kirtley.
Wysocki entertained the Byrd Stadium crowd of 26,071 with his second straight 200-yard rushing game, carrying 33 times for 202 yards in Maryland's fourth straight victory and seventh in 11 games.
The compact sophomore had runs of 34, 41, and 34 yards, each setting up a score as the Terrapins fought to preserve their hopes of a bid to the Hall of Fame Classic in Birmingham. But to no avail; the bid to play South Carolina in that Dec. 29 bowl game went to Missouri.
Before the word that Missouri (6-5) had walloped Kansas, 55-7, and accepted the invitation, Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne knew his chances were scant when he said:
"We deserve to go. Missouri has won but two games in their last seven; three if they win today. If they go on the record, we get an invitation. If they don't go on the record, we won't go. Bowls should be a reward for a good season."
Maryland had a 7-0 lead at halftime on a one-yard Wysocki run, added a 29-yard Dale Castro field goal after the second-half kickoff and completed its scoring on Tice's 12-yard pass to Jan Carinci early in the fourth quarter.
Kirtley, though he did not start, played five series in the second and third quarters. His severe bruise near a kidney was protected by an air-cushion vest and he received two shots of xylocaine, a painkiller.
Maryland's defensive plan was to stop the running of Virginia's junior tandem of Tommy Vigorito and Greg Taylor, Gordie Whitehead, who started at quarterback, is not the pass threat that Kirtley is when healthy.
So Maryland was able to concentrate even more on stopping the run, according to safety Ralph Lary, who intercepted two passes. Vigorito and Taylor combined for only 131 yards in 37 carriers, but Virgorito became the third Wahoo to surpass 1,000 yards in a season, with 81 yesterday for 1,044. Taylor's 50 gave him an 11-game sum of 933 yards.
Virginia ran only three plays from scrimmage in Maryland territory. Those plays came after Virginia recovered a fumbled punt, but on the third down Kirtley fumbled away a snap, Maryland recovering.
Virginia scored in the fourth quarter when Quentin Murray recovered Terp reserve fullback Lyle Peck's fumble in midair and took it 36 yards for touchdown.
The Cavaliers, whose second winning season in 27 years finished at 6-5, have had more passes intercepted (seven) than completed (six) in the past two weeks.
Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick figured his defense could contain the Terps reasonably well. But he knew the key would be his offense improving its output of seven points, total, in the last three Cavalier-Terrapin meetings. Instead, he got back-to-back 17-7 losses to go with the successive 28-0 lickings of 1976 and '77.
"The pity of it was we could block them," Bestwick said, "but to continue to block them, we had to mix it up with the pass."
Whitehead's first pass was intercepted, giving him four interceptions and four completions in 19 throws as a freshman. "In his defense, he hasn't had many opportunities to throw under pressure this season," Bestwick said.
Kirtley, who did not practice all week, received one shot of painkiller before the game and another at halftime. The second shot made him dizzy and was the reason Whitehead played the opening two series of the second half.
"When they play an eight-man front," Kirtley said, "they dare you to throw. But there was a sharp pain every time I threw."
Virginia's defense did keep the game scoreless until the final minute of the first half, even though Maryland twice had possession near midfield following Virginia turnovers.
When Virginai took a Castro punt with 2:34 left in the half, it appeared the game would be scoreless at intermission. But the Terps bunched up against the run and called a timeout with 1:11 left after Vigorito was stopped for no gain.
Ford Mays, an inconsistent punter for the Cavs all season, punted out of bounds at midfield. Louis Collins, on the coverage, was called for a personal foul, giving the Terps the ball at Virginia's 35. Bestwick said the Terps should have been called for clipping before Collin's foul.
At this point, Wysocki had gained only 44 yards in 14 carries, but Tice called his number on a power sweep, sending a wide receiver in motion the opposite way as a decoy.
Virginia players missed a tackle or two near the line of scrimmage and the Terps got lucky, too, when Wysocki fumbled at the end of his long gainer and tackle Phil Livingston recovered at the Virginia one. Wysocki scored two plays later.
Wysocki, who finished his sophomore season with 1,140 yards and an Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 126.7 average for the nine games he played (he missed two injured), related on the fumble, "I was so anxious.
"Mike threw a great block for me downfield. I was waiting for his block. As soon as he threw his block, I was cutting off Jan Carinci's block and switching hands. Someone hit me and I was just so glad, so happy, we got the ball back. It was really critical. Phil fell on it. It could have been the turning point in the game."
Looking back at Maryland's midseason four-game losing streak, when he had a bruised thigh, Wysocki said he probably should not have played against Penn State and North Carolina State. He performed below standard in those games, then sat out the next two. Yet he became the school's second 1,000-yard rusher.
Wysocki's 41-yard power sweep on the first series of the second half, following a 17-yard Tice run, set up Castro's field goal, his 17th this season, tying an ACC record and breaking Ed Loncar's Maryland record set last season.
Maryland applied the clincher after Kirtley's fumble at the Terrapin 29. After resting on Maryland's previous possession, Wysocki scooted 34 yards around left end on his first play back. The other key play of the series, ending in Tice's touchdown pass to Carinci, was a 10-yard run by fullback Jeff Rodenberger on a fake punt.
Tice again played a good game, his fourth straight since being benched. A 38 percent passer prior to that, he completed none of 14 for 74 yards yesterday, giving him 39 of 59 for 403 yards and four touchdowns since returning. He was intercepted once by Virginia, his only one in those four games.
"Tice plays like that in those four losses and we don't lose all of them and we go to a bowl," remarked a Maryland official.
"The benching helped," Tice said, citing the off-season surgery from which he had barely recovered in time to start the season. He said he came back physically improved and with less pressure on him. "After that rest," he said, "everything started clicking."
The report that Maryland would not go to a bowl game for the first time in seven years was not the only negative news for Tice.
Thieves broke into the Maryland locker room during the game and stole at least three leather duffel bags, including Tice's. The quarterback lost a valise, keys and a backgammon set.