For the second straight week, Maryland fooled its fans in Byrd Stadium. Last game, those of little faith left early -- and the Terrapins rallied for a memorable victory. Yesterday, nearly everybody lingered past halftime -- and suffered.

North Carolina's victory was as complete, although not as completely boring, as Dick Crum could hope. The problem for Maryland's Joe Krivak is that he needn't bother looking at the films to understand what went wrong.

Krivak saw the trouble, Krivak felt the trouble, Krivak heard about the trouble from customers who also could not fathom how the Terrapins could be wonderful for one play and awful the next four.

Lots of boos greeted Krivak's decision to relieve the maker of last week's miracle, Neil O'Donnell, with former starter Dan Henning in the first series of the fourth quarter.

The fans could not understand the logic of benching a more nimble fellow betrayed more by teammates than his arm. On the blame list, quarterback hardly seemed first. Or even fifth.

Still, some saw justice served by the switch. They were the observers, not entirely neutral, who thought Henning should not have lost his position because of the injury that forced O'Donnell into service against Duke.

Krivak said he had "a feeling, a premonition" about senior Henning being able to produce a comeback that would have been even more stunning than last week's. Probably, the only Henning with any chance for success under the circumstances was the magician Doug, who was not available.

Whatever, Krivak and his unsolicited advisors among the crowd of 35,425 knew that more than O'Donnell's strong and accurate arm was necessary when the outcome was in doubt.

Lots more.

"A lot of guys went through the motions," Krivak volunteered after the 27-14 loss that was both closer and more of a rout than the score suggests.

Maryland was two dropped passes away from a 21-20 lead midway through the third quarter. This is not sun-sets-in-the-west certain, for Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof and Ferrell Edmunds each would have had to run a considerable distance after the catch.

Maybe Victor Bullock would have caught Abdur-Ra'oof had he held that lovely spiral 60-some yards downfield on Maryland's second play from scrimmage; or maybe Abdur-Ra'oof would have been tripped up by a tough blade of grass.

That was all that seemed in the way of a 76-yard momentum-turner of a play as O'Donnell's pass bore directly toward Abdur-Ra'oof's hands -- and through them.


Instead of grabbing a 7-3 lead, Maryland slipped to a 20-0 halftime deficit that included these dreadful numbers: minus-three yards rushing and one punt blocked for a North Carolina touchdown.

The punt block was compounded by who slapped it off Darryl Wright's foot and when. Instead of snapping the ball and kicking it as the clock was running in the final minute before halftime, the Terrapins got called for delay of game.

Because of blocks from an outside rush earlier in the year against Miami, Wright was closer to the line of scrimmage than normal. Strange as it may seem to casual fans, this is the correct, textbook strategy.

Moving up means the outside rushers can more easily be bumped out of the punter's path, so the only way a kick can be blocked is from the middle. Naturally, Maryland would plug the middle.

It would not.

At the very least, the blockers surely would look across the line and yell, in unison: "Make sure number 4 doesn't get through."

That would be Norris Davis, who even before the game had scored in just about every way possible for a defensive player. He had mustered touchdowns by recovering a fumble in the end zone, by running in an interception, by blocking a kick and by grabbing a fumble in midair.

Somebody should have blocked Davis. Nobody did, or at least not more than a glancing blow. Through Terrapins blockers in an instant, he swatted the punt and gathered it in for his fifth touchdown of the season.

North Carolina was not exactly a crisp offensive machine, its Quinton Smith dropping a first-down pass near the Maryland 10 during a drive that ended with a 51-yard field goal.

This caused Krivak to say of a game easily forgotten by everybody not immediately involved: "I didn't think North Carolina played exceptionally well, either. It was just that we made more mistakes . . . "

After the Duke comeback, the O'Donnell-inspired rally from 15 points down in the fourth quarter, few Terrapins fans were totally discouraged by being 20 points in arrears at the half.

That set in during the third quarter. First, Edmunds was looking for end-zone glory instead of looking the ball into his hands on a play in which no Carolina defender was within 15 yards.

What followed soured Krivak's disposition even more. Twice Maryland was within a yard of a first down inside Carolina's 15-yard line; twice Maryland failed.

"And we had the end knocked down {on a pitchout} and still couldn't make one yard," he said, as though failure was close to an impossibility. Truth is, that barely cracked the top five in certain successes soon snuffed.

Like all teams, Maryland has some specific offensive goals it feels are vital to victory: averaging four yards per rush, making 80 percent of all short-yardage situations on third and fourth down, scoring after every first down inside the opponent's 20-yard line. And so on.

Krivak might well pencil in this reminder: dashing into the end zone is no more than useful exercise unless you bring the ball along.