Belated Drive for Five; Terps Brush off Duke in the Second Half

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Byline: Rick Snider, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A classic trap almost ensnared the Maryland Terrapins.

A lightly regarded opponent and a coming week off nearly caused Maryland to overlook Duke last night. The Terps won their fifth straight 33-20 before 50,084 at Byrd Stadium but didn't dominate until the second half.

Duke (2-4, 0-3 ACC) lost a conference-record 28th straight despite a near 11-minute edge in time of possession. The Blue Devils simply couldn't convert third downs despite regularly testing the Terps' 12th-ranked defense.

Conversely, Maryland didn't run by the ACC's second-worst run defense before halftime. The Terps' 29 yards in the first half all came on an option run.

"We're sporadic," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Offensively, we played well in spurts, but we don't put it all together. That's where we have to play better."

Maryland (5-2, 2-1) doesn't play again until Oct.23 at Georgia Tech (4-3, 2-2), and the Terps' battered offensive line clearly needs a respite, opening little running room inside for the second straight week. Maryland needed a gimmick play and a career-long field goal by kicker Nick Novak to gain a 13-0 halftime lead.

"I'm going to give the kids some time off, and hopefully they'll get well," Friedgen said. "In the last five games, we have to be at our best. I'm hoping we're going to get excited at Georgia Tech. It could have a lot of impact on the rest of our season. We're capable of winning our last five games. We're capable of losing all five."

The Terps' defense finally clicked in the second quarter and delivered another standout effort before allowing three meaningless scores. Maryland's pass rush wore down the Blue Devils as Duke quarterback Mike Schneider completed just 20 of 47 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Maryland got a scare when Novak was stunned while covering a kickoff with 6:35 remaining in the first half. He soon kicked an extra point, then was rested until late in the third quarter. He later missed a 40-yard field goal attempt before converting 31- and 48-yarders to tie a personal-best four field goals. Punter Adam Podlesh also handled kickoffs in the second half, and Dan Ennis kicked an extra point.

"I felt like my head was on fire," Novak said, "but it went away. …