COLLEGE PARK -- Mark Duffner's honeymoon season at Maryland got a little sour yesterday.
Maryland committed the cardinal sin of the Atlantic CoasConference, losing to Wake Forest, 30-23, before a homecoming crowd of 31,132 at Byrd Stadium.
Yes, to Wake Forest. Yes, at homecoming. Yes, anothefourth-quarter loss, and more big plays allowed. It was only Maryland's third loss to the Demon Deacons (2-4 overall, 1-4) in the last 13 meetings. Wake Forest was one of only two games Maryland won last season when the Terps finished 2-9 under coach Joe Krivak.
Duffner, who was 60-5-1 in six years at Holy Cross, was not hiusual upbeat self at the post-game news conference. In fact, he seemed uncomfortable and eager to leave. His team was booed by fans late in the game and seemed to lack enthusiasm and intensity, all the things he has been preaching since replacing Krivak in January.
"Our football team will come back with a lot of determination this week to work very hard on the things that we have got to do to get this thing on track," said Duffner, whose team is 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the ACC. "I'm not happy with the execution that we had today especially on the defensive side of the football.
"We start off real well but the big play continues to haunt us. Ware going to eliminate the big play in whatever means we have to take."
The last big play came with 12:43 left in the game. That's wheWake Forest quarterback Keith West completed a 49-yard pass to split end Todd Dixon to put the Demon Deacons ahead, 27-23. Then after an interception of Terps quarterback John Kaleo, Wake Forest's Mike Green kicked a 22-yard field goal with 10:49 left to complete the scoring.
Dixon's touchdown pass came several minutes after WakForest linebacker Willie Hall and defensive end Gleen Hart were removed from the field with 21 seconds left in the third quarter. Both players suffered neck injuries while trying to tackle Maryland running back Doug Burnett on a first-and-10 play at the Maryland 20-yard line.
The game was held up for 20 minutes. Hall was flown to University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center while Hart was transported to Prince George's County Hospital. Initial X-rays for Hart were negative, and he was expected to leave the hospital last night, a Maryland spokesman said. Hall was conscious and stable, the spokesman said, and had feeling in his arms and legs. A CAT scan and X-rays were scheduled for last night, but only as preventive measures.
When play resumed, Maryland need 1 yard for a first down but was stopped on consecutive rushes.
Maryland's Dave DeArmas had a 24-yard punt, and three playlater, Dixon was in the end zone.
"Our team stayed focused after the injuries, and just went aftethe game," said Wake Forest coach Bill Dooley.
A few Maryland offensive players thought they had lost their edge when the game was stopped. Maryland had scored touchdowns on its two previous possessions.
"I kept telling the guys when we were stretching that we had to come out and pick up the slack, that Wake Forest was going to be fired up," said Marcus Badgett, Maryland's senior wide receiver. "We never got our momentum back."
Thus, an embarrassing loss.
"It's homecoming and you want to show the alumni and the crowd that you want to win and play hard," said Maryland defensive tackle Darren Drozdov. "Could've, should've, if, if . . . the bottom line is that we're 1-6."
Maryland linebacker Mike Jarmolowich said: "This hurts, it hurta lot. It is the 100-year anniversary [of Maryland football]."
And it may not get much better. Maryland's secondary has been getting toasted all year, and the Terps allowed Keith West to complete 17 of 30 passes for 331 yards.
Duffner played almost every defensive back he had, but West still completed passes of 49, 51, 39 and 33 yards.
Duffner swore yesterday the Terps would eliminate the big play by next Saturday when the Terps face Duke, but how? The Terps have no pass rush, so they blitz and get burned. And when they don't blitz, they sit back and get burned.
"I still can't explain what happened out there," said Terps' left cornerback Brandon Bertha.
The Terps offensive line didn't have much of a clue either. Theallowed nine sacks.
"Our quarterback was not able to throw like he is capable of with that kind of pass rush," said Duffner.
Maryland's offense was inconsistent, but played well enough to win. Kaleo completed 30 of 48 passes for 405 yards, but had four intercepted. In his defense, three of the interceptions were tipped, but one was severely overthrown, and the last one, which stopped a Maryland drive at the Wake Forest 29, was thrown into double coverage with 26 seconds left in the game.
Kaleo passed to Badgett with for a 9-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in the first quarter as Maryland took a 7-0 lead.
But Wake Forest, using a 51-yard pass from West to fullback Wendell Wells over the middle, scored on a 1-yard run by tailback John Leach to tie the score 40 seconds later.
Badgett had a 58-yard reception to the Wake Forest 4 early in the second quarter, but the Terps failed to score as two runs netted only 1 yard and Kaleo threw behind a wide open Dan Prunzik on third-and-goal. Maryland had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by DeArmas with 11:04 left in the half.
But Wake Forest, getting a 39-yard reception from West to tight end John Henry Mills, scored on another 1-yard run by Leach with 46 seconds left in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead at the half.
Maryland scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter on runs of 15 and 6 yards by Burnett, the latter with 1:15 left to give Maryland a 23-14 lead.
But after the last touchdown, Wake Forest answered with a 5-play, 57-yard touchdown drive as West scored on a 1-yard bootleg.