Tigers find new formula for third straight shutout of Terps


COLLEGE PARK -- After the pass sailed over Buddy Rodgers' head, Clemson linebacker Andye McCrorey shoved the Maryland running back to the ground during the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. An angered Rodgers got back on his feet and stood chest-to-chest with McCrorey.

McCrorey then pointed at the scoreboard. Specifically, the part showing Maryland scoreless.

"It was just a reminder," McCrorey said. "I wanted to put the game back into perspective for him."

And what came into focus was Maryland's inability to solve Clemson, which became the first team in 25 years to shut out the Terps at Byrd Stadium.

The Terps haven't been able to remove that zero beside their name for 12 straight quarters against Clemson. Maryland has been shut out only four times under fourth-year coach Mark Duffner; the Tigers have three of those shutouts.

The Terps have averaged 24.8 points against the rest of their Atlantic Coast Conference opponents in the three seasons that Clemson has shut them out.

"We didn't do anything different in our defense today," Clemson coach Tommy West said. "I think we did the same things, but maybe a little bit better."

Brian Dawkins, who wrestled away the ball from Mancel Johnson for an interception on the first play of the fourth quarter, had a couple of explanations for the Tigers' recent mastery.

"I think we were a little more aggressive than them," he said. "We seemed like we wanted this game more. They also helped us out by dropping a lot of balls. So luck helped us out, too."

The "lucky" formula for the Tigers' success changes every year.

Louis Solomon, who entered the game with as many receptions (one) as pass completions (one) this year, stepped in for injured starting quarterback Nealon Greene and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to end the first half. Patrick Sapp, who tied a Clemson record with 25 completions against Maryland in 1992, intercepted a pass and made four unassisted tackles at defensive back.

And the Tigers' defense really hasn't terrorized offenses.

The only other team unable to score a touchdown against Clemson this year was Western Carolina (2-5).

It's also the first time the Tigers have registered three straight shutouts against an ACC opponent since 1959-61 against N.C. State.

"I don't know what it is we do against [Maryland]," said Carlos Curry, a Clemson defensive lineman. "We did what we needed to. That zero puts a smile on everybody that played defense today."

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