Maryland Coach Joe Krivak would not say yesterday who his starting quarterback would be for this week's game against North Carolina, but he may very well be leaning toward Neil O'Donnell.

The redshirt sophomore came off the bench Saturday after starter Dan Henning was hurt and led the Terrapins to a 23-22 comeback victory over Duke.

"I'm glad Neil came in and played well," Krivak said yesterday after watching film. "The No. 2 guy has got to be ready to play. He gets as much work in practice as the No. 1 guy. In the past, our No. 2 quarterbacks have done a great job and helped us win games. That's exactly what Neil did for us Saturday. But then Dan {Henning} has been very productive for us.

"The thing I've got to decide is who will get the most things done. Neil has things that Dan doesn't and Dan has things Neil doesn't have. But both have got to be ready to play because we need them both. But I can't ignore the fact that Neil had a hell of a game and did some things to get us going."

Saturday was only O'Donnell's second collegiate game, and his performance may have been enough to get him his first college start. In three quarters, O'Donnell completed 23 of 33 passes for 293 yards, one interception, one very important touchdown and two deciding two-point conversions.

The touchdown pass was nine yards to tight end Ferrell Edmunds and cut the Duke lead to 22-21 with 1:55 left in the game. Then, on the conversion, O'Donnell scrambled and connected with Vernon Joines, who made a fantastic catch to give Maryland its margin of victory.

O'Donnell diplomatically deflected the question of whether he thought he should start, saying, "I'm ready to start. But it's all up to the coaches as to who will play. You never know what will happen."

Henning, who has started 18 consecutive games, scrambled out of the pocket on Maryland's sixth offensive play of the game. The senior has always been admired by teammates for his ability to take a hit. This time, though, he had to leave the game.

"I'm not the type who normally takes on linebackers, but I wanted to make sure I got the first down," said Henning, who did.

Henning played the rest of that series, which ended with a punt, and the next one, in which two passes almost were intercepted. Then he came to the sideline and told the coaches he thought he should come out.

"Usually when you get dinged, it wears off," said Henning, who said he felt fine yesterday. "But I wasn't making good decisions and I told coach that he'd be better off taking me out."

O'Donnell played the next series, which was the first for Maryland in the second quarter, and he directed a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run by Mike Anderson.

The rest of the second quarter and the entire third quarter were not so productive for O'Donnell and the rest of the offense.

"We play in spurts," Krivak said. "The offense looked good, then lost it. But then down the stretch, they made the plays. But we're not playing for 60 minutes and that's what concerns me."

But almost like a light switch, the sputtering Terrapins offense was turned into a smooth, efficient machine. The last two drives were 92 and 79 yards.

"The experienced players made good plays and Neil O'Donnell had a great game," offensive coordinator Jim Cavanaugh said. "He showed a lot of poise in there and his mobility allowed him to throw on the run, which really helped."

After the Miami loss, in which O'Donnell played most of the fourth quarter, Krivak said he might consider using O'Donnell more. Now, he may have no choice.

Maryland (4-3) now has some momentum. Which quarterback do you play to keep it?

Krivak smiled. He'll announce his decision later this week.

Meanwhile, Navy also has momentum, although it came from a loss. Against Pittsburgh, Navy was, "as they say, close, but no cigar," Coach Elliot Uzelac said. The Midshipmen, who came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in pass defense even though their opponents have been completing 62 percent of their passes, showed that they are capable of defending against almost anybody.

Led by juniors Mark Pimpo (10 tackles), who was named ECAC Division I-A defensive player of the week, and Ray Worthington (12 tackles, two for loss) and sophomores David Lowe (13 tackles, two for loss, one sack) and Daron Fullwood (14 tackles), Navy held the Panthers to 206 yards total offense -- 140 of which were gained on 37 carries by 6-foot, 260-pound Craig (Ironhead) Heyward.

Navy's offense, as it has been all season, is another story. The Midshipmen again moved the ball well at times, holding the ball for more than five minutes on three occasions. However, Navy ended up with only two field goals.

Thus, despite a good overall effort, Navy (1-6) takes a streak of 13 losses in 14 games to No. 10 Notre Dame. Next week Navy plays at home against No. 9 Syracuse.

Howard kept its lead (3-0) in the in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference by beating defending MEAC champion North Carolina A&T, 34-21, as tailback Harvey Reed gained 152 yards on 24 carries. The Bison face nonleague opponent Norfolk State at Greene Stadium Saturday.