Maryland vented a season's worth of frustration on Virginia yesterday, scoring five times in the first half and routing the Cavaliers, 48-7, before 21,300 in blustery Byrd Stadium.
Maryland (4-6-1 overall and 4-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) completed its first losing season since 1971, but finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, behind Clemson and North Carolina.
In defeating the Cavaliers for the 10th straight time, the Terrapins outgained their rivals in total yards, 492 to 192. The star for Maryland was senior tailback Charlie Wysocki, who carried 33 times for 153 yards and four touchdowns in his final college game.
Maryland quarterback Norman (Boomer) Esiason kept Virginia's defense from keying on Wysocki by completing 10 of 13 passes for 191 yards. Esiason's final completion, with two minutes left in the third quarter, was his 122nd this season, a Maryland record.
While Wysocki and Esiason rested on the bench late in the game, savoring Maryland's most lopsided victory in six years, running back John Nash gained most of his 103 yards. He carried 23 times.
Virginia (1-9, 0-6) contributed to its own demise with a questionable decision at the start of the game. The Cavaliers won the coin toss, and elected to receive; they had to move against a 30 mph wind.
Cavalier Coach Dick Bestwick was gambling that the game would be close enough for his team to have the wind advantage in the fourth quarter.
Virginia, whose game plan was predicated on passing, found it nearly impossible to throw the ball accurately into the wind in the first quarter. Maryland led in that period, 17-0, and kept the Cavaliers backed up with three wind-aided kickoffs out of the end zone.
"The wind was a big factor," Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said in the locker room. "I was surprised Virginia decided to go against the wind after the coin toss. But we were happy they did. I've made that decision myself and lived to regret it."
The Cavaliers must regret it, too. On the third play from scrimmage, facing third and 13 from their 17, quarterback Mike Eck attempted a screen pass to fullback Mark Sanford. The ball held up in the wind, and defensive end Mark Wilson, a senior from Charlottesville, made a lunging interception at the 22.
Wysocki carried for seven yards on first down, seven more on second down, then ran past two tacklers for an eight-yard touchdown that gave Maryland the lead less than two minutes into the game.
"The first interception changed the nature of the game," Bestwick said. "The pass was badly thrown, and the wind was obviously a big factor, too."
A 29-yard punt into the wind on Virginia's next possession gave Maryland possession at the Cavalier 46. From there, the Terrapins used 12 plays and fullback Tim Whittie's one-yard touchdown run to go ahead, 14-0, with 6:43 still remaining in the first quarter.
The Virginia defense stopped Wysocki on a fourth-and-inches attempt during the drive, but the Cavaliers were penalized for having 12 men on the field.
The Maryland lead went to 17-0 on Jesse Atkinson's 38-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
By then, Virginia was hoping for a typhoon in the second and fourth quarters.
"With the wind like it was and them trying to pass the football, we felt we could back them up and control the ball with runs and short passes against the wind," Claiborne said. "We had to score in that first quarter."
Wysocki, who gained 65 yards in the first quarter, ran 13 yards around the right side for his second touchdown, and a 24-0 lead.
Bestwick brought in quarterback Todd Kirtley, who had been his off-and-on starter for three years before sustaining several injuries this season. The senior from Fairfax led the Cavaliers from their 20 to the Terrapin 38 by completing four of six passes. But Derek Jenkins' fourth-and-inches run was stopped for a loss by Maryland linebacker Joe Wilkins.
Atkinson's second field goal, from 27 yards, gave the Terrapins a 27-0 lead a minute before halftime.
Virginia's best offensive play before intermission was a 68-yard punt by Jeff Walker, which kept Maryland from scoring again before halftime. Terrapin safety Wayne Wingfield and linebacker Eric Wilson broke up passes. And cornerback Lendell Jones had an interception on behalf of Maryland's much-maligned pass defense.
Maryland increased its lead to 34-0 on Wysocki's one-yard run following Esiason's 53-yard pass to Russell Davis. And Wysocki's fourth score, making it 41-0, came after Esiason passes to John Tice and Joe Brkovich.
Many of the fans had left by the time Esiason broke Dick Shiner's 1969 record for pass completions. A 12-yard completion to Tice gave Esiason the record. He was immediately replaced by fifth-year senior Bob Milkovich.
"For a school that doesn't pass much, it's not that much of a record," Esiason said. "But it does feel good to hold a record. It's sad to say, but I think we finally put it all together. It's 11 games too late. But it's something to build on for next year."