Maryland 45, Duke 12
On yet another frustrating day for running back Bruce Perry, the Terrapins continued to move forward without him. In a season that is becoming more promising by the week, Maryland's defense was splendid, and quarterback Scott McBrien led another offensive outburst in a 45-12 rout of overmatched Duke today.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Terrapins (6-2, 2-1 ACC), and the Blue Devils (2-7, 0-5), losers of four straight, broke their own conference record with their 22nd consecutive loss in league play.
Steve Suter set a school season record with his third punt return for a touchdown, and cornerback Curome Cox returned one of Maryland's three interceptions for a touchdown. McBrien emerged after a sluggish start to complete 15 of his final 17 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns before Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen began substituting liberally with a 45-0 lead in the third quarter.
In all, six players scored touchdowns for Maryland, which crept closer to a potential Nov. 9 showdown against undefeated and No. 12 North Carolina State.
"We had a slow start early on in the season [and] a lot of teams weren't thinking much about us," said McBrien, who also had a two-yard touchdown run. "We're really on a roll right now. We're really focused on what we have to accomplish."
The victory, though, was tempered somewhat by injuries to several key players, including Perry, who injured his shoulder on his first carry of the season. In addition to Perry, tackle Matt Crawford (sprained right knee), center Todd Wike (hyperextended big toe), running back Josh Allen (sprained left wrist) and defensive tackle C.J. Feldheim (sprained left knee) all needed medical attention and did not return. X-rays on Perry, Crawford and Allen were negative; Perry, Crawford and Feldheim are scheduled for MRI exams Monday, and the severity of their injuries is unknown.
"We're getting [injuries] where we don't have a lot of depth and it takes a toll on us," Friedgen said. ". . . We're getting real thin right now. We're running out of people. Some guys are going to have to step up if we're going to have the season we want to have."
The latest injury continues the disappointment for Perry, the returning ACC offensive player of the year who had missed all season because of an abdominal injury followed by a torn groin muscle.
After gaining 19 yards on his only carry, he headed for the sideline, where he took off his pads as trainers attended to him, then was carted off for X-rays of his ribs. He was reduced to being a spectator and at halftime changed into a black warm-up suit. The injury was diagnosed as a sprained sterno-clavicular joint, a ligament where the collarbone meets the breastbone.
"I feel bad for the kid," Friedgen said. "He can't seem to catch a break. If it's not one thing, it's another. He's worked very hard to get back."
After Perry's injury, the Terrapins sputtered, failing to get another first down until the second quarter. However, Suter gave Maryland a 10-0 lead when he took a punt, ran left, then cut back across the field, shaking free of one tackler who had him by the ankle, for a 63-yard return.
After completing just one of four passes in the first quarter, McBrien quickly found a rhythm, starting with an 18-yard completion to Scooter Monroe on a down-and-out pattern. Later in the drive, McBrien passed to Latrez Harrison for a 22-yard completion, setting up Josh Allen's 11-yard touchdown run that made it 17-0.
Maryland's next possession ended with an interception by McBrien, his first in 20 quarters. But Duke got the ball on its 1 and two plays later, Cox read a hitch pattern, broke for the ball, made an easy interception and waltzed into the end zone. A two-yard keeper by McBrien made it 31-0 with 25 seconds left before halftime.
"After the first quarter, I told [McBrien] he needed to settle down and needed to make some plays," Friedgen said. "We had some things, and he wasn't really executing. Once he got on, he was fine. I thought this may have been one of his better games."