Stellar Defense Carries Terps Past Tar Heels, 23-7
Sept 1, 2001
By DAVID GINSBURG
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen's career as a head coach was less than two minutes old when Willie Parker ran 77 yards for a North Carolina touchdown.
Friedgen's first thought: "This is a great way to open up."
His second: "This is the last time they score today."
Friedgen was right on both counts. Shaun Hill threw two touchdown passes to complement a stellar performance by the Maryland defense, and the Terrapins rolled to a 23-7 victory Saturday.
Friedgen, a Maryland alum hired to turned around a team that hasn't played a bowl game since 1990, became the first coach to win his first game with the Terrapins since Tom Nugent in 1959.
"It was special, but hopefully one of many," Friedgen said. "What was special to me was the way the kids responded to me. I pushed them, and today they know why."
Maryland (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored 23 straight points after Parker's run stunned Friedgen and the crowd of 44,080.
"We knew that the whole game wasn't going to be like that," Maryland linebacker Aaron Thompson said. "It just happened. It could have been a test from up above to see how we'd react to a situation like that. I think we responded well."
Said Friedgen: "Take that play out, they didn't do anything."
North Carolina (0-2, 0-1) remained winless under first-year coach John Bunting. Darian Durant replaced senior quarterback Ronald Curry in a second straight game, but unlike last week against Oklahoma, the redshirt freshman failed to generate any offense.
"I thought we'd be better. I really did," said Bunting, who blamed his team's woeful attack on a young offensive line.
Curry went 6-for-12 for 61 yards and an interception. Durant, who entered in the third quarter, finished 10-for-14 for 97 yards and two interceptions.
Asked if he would consider making Durant his starter, Bunting replied, "I'll have to think about it. I'm inclined to stay with what I've been doing."
The Terrapins kept the Tar Heels in their own end of the field for much of the game, thanks in part to punter Brooks Barnard, who averaged 50.4 yards on eight kicks.
"They kept us pinned down in the first half. They had great field position and we were not able to overcome it," Bunting said. "We had a couple of penalties that made it worse."
Parker gained only 25 yards on 12 carries after his initial run and finished with 102 yards rushing. He was outdone by Maryland's Bruce Perry, who gained 116 yards on 21 attempts.
Hill was 10-for-26 for 86 yards in directing an offense that did not commit a turnover.
"I felt like I played a great game today except for hitting the receivers. I got us in the right plays most every time," Hill said.
Maryland pulled away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. After Perry ran for 12 yards on a third-and-5 from the North Carolina 19, Hill hit Scooter Monroe for a 5-yard score.
"It was a huge, huge ball game," Hill said. "We came out with the `W' but we can't be satisfied with that. We have to get better every week. But it's a great way to start the season."
Stung by Parker's early run, Maryland's defense bounced back on North Carolina's next possession by forcing the Tar Heels to punt from their own 1.
A 10-yard return by Guilian Gary gave the Terrapins the ball at the North Carolina 32, setting up Hill's TD pass to Williams.
Apparently not content with merely setting up a score, the Maryland defense recorded a safety early in the second quarter to make it 9-7. On a play that began on the North Carolina 7, Terrapins free safety Tyrone Stewart came on a blitz and tripped up Parker in the end zone.
Maryland missed a chance to lengthen its lead in the third quarter after Tony Okanlawon intercepted a pass at the North Carolina 32 - Curry's final throw of the afternoon. Three plays gained no yardage, and Nick Novak was wide right on a 50-yard field goal try.