WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., OCT. 17 -- Maryland went back to basic, hard-nosed, grind-it-out, keep'em-out-of-the-end-zone football today. The Terrapins also went back to winning.
Led by a defense that was rough, tough and, most of all, stingy, the Terrapins beat previously undefeated Wake Forest, 14-0, in front of 25,175 at Groves Stadium.
"It was a very simple approach," said Maryland Coach Joe Krivak.
Coming into the game, the Terrapins' situation also was simple: A loss to the Demon Deacons (5-1, 2-1) would have erased any realistic chance of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Though they are 2-1 in the league and 3-3 overall, it will still be a tough chore with Duke, North Carolina and Clemson left to play. But they are still in the hunt and they chanted "ACC, ACC, ACC," in their locker room after the victory.
"I thought we matched up really well," Krivak said. "We talked about being a physical football team again, because that's our style. We knew this was a game we had to win and our backs were to the wall. I thought our kids responded and played hard."
On the first series, Warren Powers sacked Wake Forest's Mike Elkins for a nine-yard loss to force a punt. Though Sean Scott would get the only other Terrapins sack, Elkins was pressured all day.
"We wanted to make the big play," said Powers, "and get everyone psyched up."
The Maryland secondary played its best game of the year, totaling four interceptions. Free safety Chad Sydnor caused the first one by undercutting a leaping Steve Brown. The ball bounced off Brown's hands to J.B. Brown, who had another interception in the closing minutes. Sydnor remembers the hit, but not much of what happened after that. He played one more series, but was so woozy he sat out most of the second quarter.
With the defense recording the first Maryland shutout since the third game of the 1985 season, the offense did just enough to win.
Maryland gained just 97 yards through the air, but had 208 yards on the ground, with Bren Lowery leading the way with 19 carries for 83 yards. Mike Anderson, who started at tailback in place of Lowery, gained 53 yards on 16 carries and scored on an 18-yard run for the first Maryland points. Then, just before the half, quarterback Dan Henning hit Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof on a three-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead at the half. That was it, but that was all they needed.
"We came out wanting to run," said Krivak, whose team threw only two passes in the second half. "In the second half, I must admit I got a little too conservative. But with some bad field position, a two-touchdown lead and the defense playing as well as they were, I didn't want to make it any harder."
It seemed unbelieveable that Krivak's Maryland team passed only 14 times, while conservative Wake Forest Coach Bill Dooley elected to throw 45 times.
"I think Coach Dooley got caught in that syndrome we've been in the last couple of games," Krivak said. "You get down in the second half and you've got to throw more than you'd like."
Three of Maryland's seven first-half possessions began in Wake Forest territory and two others were past their 40-yard line. The only bad field position came when Anderson mistakenly fielded a punt at the 3 and made it only to the 9.
With that good field position, the Terrapins were moving the ball, although a couple mistakes and a fumble prevented them from leading by more at the half. Maryland led Wake Forest in first downs (11-3), rushing yards (144-50), total yards (217-76) and time of possession (18:19 to 11:41) at the half.
"Our offensive philosophy," said Henning, "is to establish the run to set up the pass and go from there."
Henning was nine of 14 for 97 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He took advantage of the Wake Forest coverage to run 11 times for 40 yards.
"It was nice to have some positive yards," Henning said.
"He's been running all year, but usually it's for his life," Krivak said.
Dean Green intercepted Elkins midway through the second quarter and the Terrapins turned that into the first points of the game. Lowery carried three times for 27 yards and Anderson caught a nine-yard pass to get the Terrapins to the 18. Anderson had fumbled at the Wake Forest 1 earlier, but he redeemed himself by going up the middle for the last 18 yards to give Maryland a 7-0 lead with 6:09 left in the first half.
Anderson helped set up the second Maryland touchdown with a 36-yard punt return to the Wake Forest 47. Maryland took its time, but scored, with Henning's scrambling proving crucial. With 21 seconds left in the half, he hit Abdur-Ra'oof in the corner of the end zone. Wake Forest cornerback A.J. Greene claimed Abdur-Ra'oof pushed off. Asked if he pushed off, Abdur-Ra'oof shrugged, smiled and said, "We'll have to look at the film."
The film will also show the Maryland defense on the field for most of the second half. Three times Wake Forest got inside the Maryland 20 (twice inside the 10) and got nothing.
"We couldn't capitalize when we needed to," Dooley said.
Said Sydnor, who had a fourth-quarter interception and several other nice breakups, "We were getting a little tired. But we just hung in there and played together."
Maryland 0 14 0 0 14 Wake Forest 0 0 0 0 0
M -- Anderson 18 run (Plocki kick)
M -- Abdur-Ra'oof 3 pass from Henning (Plocki kick)
A -- 25,175. Maryland Wake Forest First downs 14 16 Rushes-yards 54-208 34-77 Passing 97 173 Return yards 98 55 Passing 9-14-0 23-45-4 Punts-average 8-43 6-47 Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-0 Penalties-yards 7-43 3-25 Time
RUSHING -- Maryland: Lowery 19-83, Anderson 16-53, Henning 11-40, Spinelli 8-32. Wake Forest: Young 15-51,
PASSING -- Maryland: Henning 9-14-0, 97 yards. Wake Forest: Elkins 23-45-4, 173.
RECEIVING -- Maryland: Ra'oof 4-50, Lowery 2-11, Joines 1-22, Anderson 1-9, Spinelli 1-5. Wake Forest: Jarv