COLLEGE PARK - On a night when Maryland's seniors bade a memorable farewell to Byrd Stadium, an 18-year-old with zero college football experience played with the poise of the veterans.
With Tony Okanlawon out for the third straight game with an unspecified illness and Dennard Wilson, his replacement, sidelined with a strained hamstring, the Terps dipped into their depth chart and started Domonique Foxworth at cornerback.
A true freshman out of Baltimore County's Western Tech, Foxworth did not play in the Terps' first nine games and was on course for a redshirt season, but he didn't look like a rookie last night.
"It's kind of ironic that a freshman's first start was during the seniors' last game," Foxworth said. "I wasn't all that excited about burning my redshirt year this late in the season, but an ACC ring will mean so much more because I played."
Clemson settled for a field goal on its first possession because the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Foxworth batted down what would have been a four-yard touchdown pass to 6-3 Roscoe Crosby, then teamed with E.J. Henderson for a sack of Woodrow Dantzler.
The Tigers' quarterback stopped picking on Foxworth after his clutch coverage on third-down incompletions halted Clemson's second, fourth and fifth possessions.
Foxworth was finally beaten in the fourth quarter, on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Crosby.
"Dominique stepped up and answered the bell when he had a bulls'-eye on him," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I knew he would. He's going to be a fine football player."
Sweet night for seniors
Maryland ended a nine-game losing streak against Virginia on Sept. 22. Beating Clemson for the first time since 1992 was just as satisfying, as the Tigers had outscored the Terps, 100-44, over the past three meetings. The Terps' seniors who suffered through all of those beatings reveled in the all-around pounding of Clemson.
Tailback Mark Riley had a career high 16 carries and scored two touchdowns on a pair of one-yard dives. Quarterback Shaun Hill, who began his career at a junior college in Kansas, and center Melvin Fowler directed a turnover-free offense that saw Guilian Gary turn five receptions into 93 yards. Strong safety Tony Jackson and free safety Randall Jones had interceptions, and linebacker Aaron Thompson had four tackles.
"We've had a lot more downs than ups," Riley said of his class. "It feels so good going out like this."
White lauds Henderson
Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson collected the first interception of his career and 13 tackles, four behind the line of scrimmage. That gave him 25 tackles behind the line, breaking the school record set in 1974 by Randy White, one of Maryland's greatest-ever players.
After the Terps' loss at Florida State, White called Friedgen and singled out the junior from Aberdeen.
"He's in the Hall of Fame," Henderson said. "Just to be mentioned with a guy like Randy White is an accomplishment I never dreamed of."
"I talked to some pro scouts who said he could be a high first-round pick," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said of Henderson. "From a Clemson standpoint, I hope he goes out."
Bowling for berth
After Riley got the first touchdown, oranges came out of the stands, a reminder of Maryland's preferred destination for the New Year, the Jan. 2 Orange Bowl in Miami. Representatives of the Gator, Peach and Tangerine bowls were also in attendance, the latter two more to keep tabs on Clemson.
The bowl reps noted the crowd of 52,462, the largest at Byrd since 1983. Bowls require their teams to sell a specified allotment of seats.