ATLANTA -- Sean Starner's tenuous four-week reign as the Maryland punter is most likely over.
That means Brooks Barnard, a former Broadneck High star and walk-on, redshirt freshman, probably will take over the punting against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., next Saturday.
Terps coach Ron Vanderlinden is expected to make the move official in the next couple of days.
Vanderlinden stopped defending Starner on Thursday night after he played a major role in the team's demoralizing, late first-half fade in what turned out to be a 49-31 loss to No. 9 Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"Sean got a little rattled and is pressing," said Vanderlinden, who turned to backup Barnard for the night's final punt after Starner had averaged 27.8 yards on six punts against the Yellow Jackets.
Barnard got off a 35-yard kick in his first punt for Maryland (3-1). Vanderlinden has praised Barnard this season for having a "strong leg" but chose to stick with Starner, who punted for the Terps in 1997. Starner is a junior from Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Starner's low stock took a major dip against West Virginia two weeks ago, when he averaged 32 yards on two kicks. He is averaging 32.3 yards on 25 kicks in four games.
Barnard, named for Orioles Hall of Fame third-baseman Brooks Robinson, attended Oklahoma for one semester last fall, then transferred to Maryland. He holds all of Broadneck's school records for kicking and punting.
With 28 seconds left in the first half, Starner gift-wrapped atouchdown for the Yellow Jackets with an 8-yard punt that wobbled out of bounds at the Maryland 30-yard line.
Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton took two plays to turn Starner's mistake into a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Watkins for a 28-17 halftime lead.
The short punt was made more glaring, because the Yellow Jackets had driven 70 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on their previous series, wiping out a 17-14 Maryland lead with 1: 21 left in the half.
So just as the Terps were trying to get into the locker room, down 21-17, Starner compounded their problems by virtually giving the high-powered Tech offense seven points. That 14-point Georgia Tech surge in five minutes was labeled as the most damaging factor by almost everybody surrounding the Maryland team.
The miscue became even more magnified early in the third quarter, when Matt Kalapinski scored from the 1 to reduce the Yellow Jackets' lead to 28-24.
'Big Play' strikes again
Junior Maryland cornerback Lewis Sanders not only ended Heisman Trophy candidate Hamilton's streak of 94 passes without an interception with a first-quarter theft Thursday night, he also recovered a Tech fumble and returned two kickoffs for a total of 39 yards.
"Big Play" is averaging 36.3 yards on six kickoff returns this season. He also has four interceptions and three fumble recoveries, accounting for seven of the team's 14 take-aways this season.
What a comeback it has been for the man whose career was in jeopardy two summers ago due to a serious shoulder injury.
Lost in the shuffle of the 986 yards of total offense rolled up by Georgia Tech and Maryland Thursday night were LaMont Jordan's four receptions for a career single-game high of 61 yards.
Jordan also threw a 60-yard touchdown pass and ran for two touchdowns in what would have been a night to remember if Maryland had won.
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Pub Date: 10/02/99