COLLEGE PARK - LaMont Jordan came face-to-face with his Heisman Trophy prospects last night and said what nearly everybody else around the Maryland football program has been thinking for at least a week.
"I'd say the way I'm going right now, the Heisman won't be in my future," Jordan said after he rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns and caught two passes for 69 yards in a 45-27 victory over Middle Tennessee before 31,136 on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Byrd Stadium.
"But I said before the season that as long as I helped put the team in good position to go to a big bowl game, I'd be happy," Jordan said.
It probably hurt Jordan to mutter those nearly farewell-to-the-Heisman words, but it did seem to take a lot of pressure off the always-candid senior running back.
"I was having fun out there tonight," Jordan said. "I loved lining up as a wide receiver, throwing a pass and catching the ball. But I can't convince them to let me line up at quarterback. Maybe that will happen sometime."
Jordan's fun moments also included a lot of laughs with quarterback Calvin McCall.
"Calvin and I were laughing every time he completed a pass," said Jordan, who watched McCall have the best night of his career with 21 completions in 30 attempts for 357 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
McCall's 357 yards passing were the most by a Maryland quarterback since Scott Milanovich threw for 380 against Florida State in 1995.
McCall was effective because he spread his passes among eight receivers, including tight end Jeff Dugan, who has become Maryland's new secret weapon. Dugan caught five passes for 91 yards last night and has racked up 12 catches for 193 yards in three games.
Speedy junior wide receiver Guilian Gary was the most productive receiver, catching two touchdown passes among his six grabs for 97 yards.
"I was in a zone tonight," McCall said. "Now we have to go out and play Florida State [on Thursday night] just like any other team. We can't think about them being No. 2 and all that."
Although Maryland (2-1) huffed and puffed all evening long, it never really blew little Middle Tennessee (1-3) out of Byrd Stadium until early in the fourth quarter, when Jordan scored his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run at the end of an 18-play, 96-yard drive.
Jordan's score gave the Terps a 45-21 lead and finally gave them breathing room. The Blue Raiders had trailed 17-14 early in the third quarter and 24-21 midway through the third quarter.
Middle Tennessee cut the Maryland lead to 24-21 with a razzle-dazzle, 29-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Hansford Johnson to Kendall Newson with 8:31 remaining in the third quarter.
The Terps were caught sleeping on that play, as quarterback Jason Johnson threw a lateral pass to Hansford Johnson, who then hit Newson at the back of the end zone. The Blue Raiders came out shooting from the hip all night, running double reverses and going 70 yards for a touchdown on a draw to sophomore running back Dwone Hicks.
"They threw everything at us, because they had nothing to lose," Maryland outside linebacker Aaron Thompson said. "We got things cleared up at a 90-minute team meeting Friday night. Everybody is on the same page now."
"I'm a happy man," Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said. "I haven't had too many days in 22 years of coaching that I've been able to enjoy a game like this."
NOTES: Maryland's youth movement on the offensive line officially began last night when redshirt freshmen Lamar Bryant and Eric Dumas played extensively in place of redshirt sophomore Bob Krantz and senior Tim Howard. Bryant replaced Krantz at right guard and Dumas took over Howard's spot at left tackle. Nagging injuries to Krantz (turf toe and back) and Howard (nicked up) played a role in last night's decision by Vanderlinden. ...
As part of Maryland's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Byrd Stadium, school president C.D. Mote welcomed back four participants in the first game that was played at the stadium Sept. 30, 1950, and won by the Terps, 35-21, over the Naval Academy. Two of the four people who christened Byrd Stadium were Harford County residents Jack Scarbath and his wife, Lynn Brown Scarbath. Jack Scarbath was a Maryland quarterback who went on to finish as a Heisman Trophy runner-up to Oklahoma's Billy Vessels in 1952. Lynn Brown was a cheerleader in that first game.
The other two first-game Byrd participants honored last night were Baltimore's Elmer Wingate and public address announcer John Cooley. Wingate was a defensive end for the Terps and senior class president, and Cooley won a campus-wide audition to serve as P.A. announcer.
Next for Maryland
Opponent: No. 2 Florida State
Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park
When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Yesterday: Beat Louisville, 31-0