After a brief, unsuccessful fling with passing the football, Maryland returned to basics Saturday night in Raleigh and defeated North Carolina State, 34-9, for its first victory in three games.
The victory was reminiscent of many earlier ones during Coach Jerry Claiborne's 10-year tenure: the Terps played nasty defense, controlled the ball on the ground and took advantage of mistakes. Quarterback Boomer Esiason passed only 20 times, compared to a team average of 36 in the first two games.
Six running backs carried 58 times for a total of 230 yards. Fullback John Nash, who missed the first two games with a bruised knee and asthma, played tailback and gained 104 yards in 25 carries. Nash carried on the last 11 plays and 13 of the last 15 as Maryland won its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
The performance of Nash and starting tailback Willie Joyner (54 yards in the first three quarters before aggravating a groin injury) made up for the absence of all-ACC tailback Charlie Wysocki, who missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. He hopes to be ready when Syracuse visits College Park Saturday.
Despite the victory, Claiborne was understandably disappointed in the Terps' kicking game. Jesse Atkinson had two field-goal attempts blocked, and State's only touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Eric Williams ran 47 yards with Steve Adams' blocked punt.
Meanwhile, Navy Coach George Welsh didn't want to hear anything about moral victories following the Mids' 21-16 defeat at Michigan.
"We hung in there, and we had a chance to win at the end," Welsh said. "They made the big plays at the end, and we didn't."
Welsh denied a report by CBS Sports that Penn State Coach Joe Paterno would become athletic director if the Nittany Lions won the national championship and Welsh would be named coach. Welsh was an assistant at Penn State for 10 years before moving to Navy in 1973.
"There's absolutely nothing to that," Welsh said. "I have no idea how that got started."
Welsh was more concerned about the status of tailback Eddie Meyers, who played briefly against Michigan after missing practice with a thigh bruise. Welsh said he expects Meyers to practice this week and to play Saturday at Yale. Navy now is 2-1.
At Howard, Coach Floyd Keith said this would be "evaluation week" for the 1-2 Bison, which lost its second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game, 34-6 to South Carolina State at Howard Stadium.
"We still think we've got the makings of a respectable team," Keith said. "But we've got to take a closer look at who is doing what."sessions.
Virginia lost its ACC opener and third straight over-all when Duke sophomore Ron Sally riddled the Cavaliers for 336 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-24 victory at Charlottesville. Sally's 58-yard pass to split end Cedric Jones set up Mike Grayson's two-yard run for the winning touchdown with 59 seconds left. The Cavs play at N.C. State Saturday.
Nationally, there were several exciting games featuring top 20 teams Saturday, but only one real upset: Purdue's 15-14 victory over No. 11 Notre Dame. Boilermaker quarterback Scott Campbell threw a two-point conversion to Steve Bryant with 19 seconds remaining after the flanker had caught a seven-yard touchdown. The Irish (1-2) have lost two straight under new Coach Gerry Faust,
USC became the first top-ranked team to win a game this season when sophomore quarterback John Mazur threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Fred Cornwell with two seconds remaininging, for a 28-24 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma. Iowa, which had already beaten Nebraska this season, toppled sixth-ranked UCLA, 20-7.
Fourth-ranked Texas needed a 45-yard scoring pass to receiver Donnie Little with 11 minutes remaining to defeat Miami, 14-7; eighth-ranked Ohio State had to survive a late Stanford rally before prevailing, 24-19, and Alabama Coach Bear Bryant won his 309th game -- five behind record-holder Amos Alonzo Stagg -- as the 10th-ranked Tide defeated Vanderbilt, 28-7.