COLLEGE PARK -- The eerie sound of a helicopter carrying defensive end Erwyn Lyght to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday could not be ignored by most of his Maryland football teammates, who were trying to concentrate on maintaining a 31-point lead over North Carolina early in the third quarter.
Tests revealed that Lyght had not suffered any spinal injury, but the Terps couldn't help but be worried after seeing him taken off on a stretcher.
"I was in tears on the sidelines," said junior running back LaMont Jordan. "It wasn't just because he was a teammate. But the sight of anybody being carried off to Shock Trauma is terrible. Erwyn's Mom and Dad came down on the field to see him, and it was all a tough thing to watch."
Junior cornerback Lewis Sanders said: "I was just praying to God that Erwyn would be OK. We got the news right after the game that all the tests were negative. That was great."
There were just six seconds left in the first half when the game was stopped by a scary helmet-to-helmet collision between Lyght and Peter Timmins as the senior defensive ends were closing in on Tar Heels quarterback Antwon Black.
Lyght and Timmins fell motionless to the turf, but Timmins was able to get up and return to action quickly.
But Lyght never did get up, and he complained of pain in his spine and neck. He did have movement in his extremities and was immobilized in a 15-minute procedure.
Lyght was put on a stretcher and left the field in an ambulance that was headed to the University of Maryland Health Center for X-rays.
When it was discovered that the Health Center did not have facilities to do the X-rays, Lyght was taken to a waiting helicopter on the baseball field, which is 600 feet from the Byrd Stadium football field.
Sophomore strong safety Randall Jones was among those Maryland players who had Lyght on his mind as he left in the helicopter.
"Erwyn was in everybody's prayers, and we all cheered loudly when we were told he was all right after the game," said Jones.
"I know Erwyn would have wanted us to keep on playing."
Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said: "Any time a player gets hurt like that, it takes something away from the game. Erwyn is a bright young man and we're all thankful he's going to be OK."