SHREVEPORT, LA., DEC. 15 -- Maryland tried to recapture the magic that carried it to a stirring win over Virginia and into tonight's Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech, but the Terrapins couldn't quite pull the rabbit out of the hat before a record crowd of 48,325.
After scoring on a 15-yard pass from Scott Zolak to Barry Johnson with 52 seconds remaining, Maryland gave up a 41-yard kickoff return that ultimately led to a 29-yard field goal by freshman Chris Boniol as time expired, lifting the Bulldogs to a 34-34 tie.
After earning its first bowl appearance in five years by winning four regular season games in the final three minutes of play, the touchdown from Zolak to Johnson appeared to give Maryland a fitting end to the 1990 season.
However, Louisiana Tech linebacker Lorenzo Baker returned a squib kick to the Terrapins 39-yard line. A second down pass from quarterback Gene Johnson to Eddie Brown moved the ball to the 19. But Johnson threw incomplete on first down and could only scramble for eight yards on the next two plays, leaving four seconds on the clock. After a timeout, Boniol made the kick.
The Terrapins (6-5-1) scored on their first two possessions of the game, Troy Jackson getting two touchdowns en route to a bowl-record three scoring runs. However the outburst was only the start of the bizzare game, which was filled with exciting plays, with a number of strange calls from the officials thrown in for good measure. During one stretch of the third period, the teams combined for three touchdowns in a span of less than four minutes, breaking open a game that was tied at 14 at halftime.
The key, though, was Dan DeArmas's missed extra point after Jackson's third score.
The game was expected to be a wide-open affair. Louisiana Tech averaged more than 440 yards offense per game, Maryland 344.
The key for the Terrapins again was Zolak, who passed for 2,589 yards and 10 touchdowns and threw 20 interceptions during the regular season.
"When he's good, we're good," said Coach Joe Krivak. "When he's not, we're struggling a little bit."
Maryland won the opening toss and elected to kick off. The Bulldogs started their possession with quarterback Gene Johnson passing to wide receiver Eddie Brown -- for a one-yard gain. On the next play, running back Michael Richardson, who rushed for 1,114 yards during the season, carried for no gain. On third down, Johnson, scrambling under pressure, ran for three yards but was stripped of the ball by linebacker Jack Bradford. Maryland's Scott Whittier recovered the ball at the Louisiana Tech 24-yard line.
Six plays later the Terrapins were in the end zone, Jackson scoring on a one-yard run around left end. The key play in the short drive was a 14-yard pass from Zolak to Barry Johnson on first and goal from the 18-yard line. (Maryland was penalized for holding on the previous play.)
Louisiana Tech (8-3-1) faltered on its next possession and Maryland once again capitalized, going 78 yards in a drive that used 12 plays and consumed nearly five minutes. Jackson's two-yard scoring run tied an Independence Bowl record for touchdowns in a game.
This drive was kept alive after Maryland faked a 38-yard field goal. Holder and backup quarterback James Sandwisch just missed Vance Phillips with a pass inside the 10-yard line but Louisiana Tech was called for interference.
After two possessions, Maryland had gained 97 yards to the Bulldogs' 13. The crowd favorites didn't gain their initial first down until 4:28 remained in the first quarter.
Maryland threatened to expand the 14-0 lead less than two minutes into the second period. The Terps drove from their 30-yard line to the Louisiana Tech 26 but Dan DeArmas was short on a 43-yard field goal attempt.
The Bulldogs used the miss to their advantage, going 74 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a five-yard touchdown run by Richardson.
For much of the game, Maryland had gotten the better of things from the officials, gaining three first downs as a result of penalties. However, things quickly turned against the Terrapins.
With 3:11 remaining in the half, Myron Baker was given credit for intercepting a Zolak pass at the Maryland 31, although replays indicated that the ball bounced from the turf into the linebacker's arms.
The Bulldogs moved to the Maryland 3-yard line. On a third and goal Jason Davis swept around right end. The running back appeared to be pushed out of bounds at the 2, but he scrambled along the sideline and extended the ball across the goal line to score the game-tying touchdown with 17 seconds left.