SHREVEPORT, LA., DEC. 16 -- Maryland Athletic Director Andy Geiger called it "football by Otis {Elevator} -- up and down, up and down," and Coach Joe Krivak, a Maryland cap perched backward on his head and a silly grin on his face, didn't seem in position to argue.

The Terrapins' 34-34 tie with Louisiana Tech in Saturday night's Independence Bowl -- a roller coaster ride in which Maryland was ahead by 14 points, down by 11 and up again by three with less than a minute left -- was a perfect microcosm of the 1990 season.

"It ended the way it started, going down to the wire, scoring with 52 seconds {left}, then trying to hang on," Krivak said of his 6-5-1 team, which in four games, including the first two of the season, scored the winning points in the final three minutes.

This time Scott Zolak hit wide receiver Barry Johnson with a fourth-down, 15-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds remaining. Maryland didn't win this time, though, because the Bulldogs exploited one of the consistently unpleasant facet of Maryland's season -- poor coverage on kickoff returns.

Linebacker Lorenza Baker returned a squib kick 41 yards to the Maryland 39. Six plays later, on fourth and two from the 11-yard line, Louisiana Tech Coach Joe Raymond Peace sent out freshman Chris Boniol to kick a 29-yard field goal as time expired.

Krivak and most of the Maryland players said they thought Louisiana Tech was right to go for the tie.

"It's what I would have done; a fourth-down play from the 2- or 3-yard line sure, but fourth and 11 is a big play," said running back Troy Jackson. "I was standing on the sideline praying that they'd go for it because I knew that our defense would stop them."

Linebacker Scott Whittier acknowledged that Louisiana Tech, in its third season in Division I-A, "is trying to build a program. An 8-3-1 record doesn't look bad, and now they can say they tied an ACC school and use it as another tool."

There was nothing small-school about the way Louisiana Tech came back after Maryland got touchdown runs from Jackson on its first two possessions. The Bulldogs, alternating two quarterbacks and two halfbacks, carved out sizable chunks of yardage. They also attempted to intimidate the Terrapins with talk as well as hard hits.

"The game was fun and it was painful, because for a while I thought we'd lose," said Terps freshman running back Mark Mason, who rushed for 93 yards and had 47 yards in receptions. "All week I thought we were taking them lightly; some of the guys were asking whom had they played all year.

"We went up 14-0 but then we went right back to taking them lightly. In the back of my mind I kept saying we shouldn't let up, and we did."

Maryland came back from a 31-20 fourth-quarter deficit because of Mason, who scored on a 28-yard swing pass.

Mason typified one of Maryland's season-long strengths: a belief in the team that didn't allow for the finger-pointing that spoiled past seasons. After sitting for most of the year then rushing for 116 yards against Virginia in the regular season finale, he said he was content to continue backing up Jackson.

The same quality applies to wide receiver Gene Thomas. He started the year with a bang, catching winning touchdown passes against Virginia Tech and West Virginia, then spent much of the rest of the season as a decoy, lining up, said one school official, "out wide in the zip code adjacent to the playing field."

But Thomas, a junior, never complained about his use. And he figures to see more passes with the departure of Johnson.

Then again, the Terrapins set school records for pass attempts and completions this season, and Krivak has hinted he may use two runners in the backfield next season, taking advantage of depth at the position.

"Maybe next year people will think that we can run the ball," said Jackson. "I enjoyed reading that I couldn't run the ball. It gave me incentive throughout the season.

"I think it gave all of us incentive, just like all the talk that we would only win two games this season -- we wanted to prove to ourselves that wasn't the truth."

Maryland...14...0...6...14...34

Louisiana Tech...0...14...14...6...34

Maryland: Jackson 1 run (DeArmas kick)

Maryland: Jackson 2 run (DeArmas kick)

Louisiana Tech: Richardson 5 run (Boniol kick)

Louisiana Tech: Davis 3 run (Boniol kick)

Louisiana Tech: Richardson 1 run (Boniol kick)

Maryland: Jackson 11 run (kick failed)

Louisiana Tech: Slaughter 7 pass from Johnson (Boniol kick)

Louisiana Tech: FG Boniol 36

Maryland: Mason 28 pass from Zolak (DeArmas kick)

Maryland: Johnson 15 pass from Zolak (DeArmas kick)

Louisiana Tech: FG Boniol 29

Attendance: 48,325.

...........Maryland......La Tech

First downs......25.......16

Rushes-yards...39-150......47-191

Passing yards...253........115

Return yards......3.........22

Passing......18-29-3...11-18-1

Punts..............1-34...4-37

Fumbles-Lost.........3-1...1-1

Penalties-yards.....6-53...9-88

Time of possession...28:46...31:14 RUSHING

Maryland: Mason 15-93, Jackson 17-50, Colvin 2-8, Zolak 5-minus 1.

Louisiana Tech: Richardson 27-81, Davis 12-72, Hughes 4-26, G.Johnson 4-12.PASSING

Maryland: Zolak 17-28-3, 215 yards, Jackson 1-1-0, 39.

Louisiana Tech: G. Johnson 7-8-0-70, Hughes 4-9-0-45, Slaughter 0-1-1-0.RECEIVING

Maryland: B. Johnson 5-107, Wychek 5-46, Mason 3-47, Jackson 2-17, Phillips 2-12, Boehly 1-25.

Louisiana Tech: Slaughter 5-68, Brown 2-20, Richardson 2-18, Cook 1-9, Davis 1-2.