Maryland Crushes Heels, 59-7

Stephens scores UNC's sole TD

CHAPEL HILL – Reaching new low points is beginning to become a common practice for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Perhaps a simple punt play with six minutes left in the first half best describes what this UNC team has become.

Untitled Document On fourth-and-eight from its own 48-yard-line, Tar Heels' punter John Lafferty booted the ball just 29 yards to Maryland's Steve Suter, who danced through UNC's coverage 77 yards for a touchdown to put the Terrapins up 24-7. Adding to Carolina's miserable reality is that the Heels were flagged for three different penalties on the play: Illegal procedure, a halo violation, and a personal foul.

That play and an abundance of others ultimately contributed to the Terps' record-setting 59-7 thrashing of the Tar Heels before a crowd of 44,000 at Kenan Stadium.

"Things looked good for about six minutes … and then they went right down the tubes," said UNC coach John Bunting. "This one hurts probably the most. There have been a lot of tough ones, but this one hurts the most because we just didn't play very well.

"I'm very disappointed, as all the Tar Heel fans are. It hurts I'm sure a lot of different people, and it hurts me a lot. I'm sure it hurts our football team. I think they feel real down about the way they played."

They most certainly were.

"I'm shocked, embarrassed, I'm disappointed," said offensive lineman Jeb Terry. "I feel bad for our fans. I feel bad for everyone that supports the Heels. We embarrassed ourselves today. And I hope our fans can forgive us for this. This hurts bad. It's humiliating."

The game started positively for the Tar Heels. UNC went to the air right away as C.J. Stephens completed passes for 24, 39 and 8 yards to Sam Aiken, Chesley Borders and Aiken again. The drive was capped by Stephens' 1-yard plunge over left guard to give UNC a 7-0 lead with 8:34 left in the first quarter.

"Obviously, we were feeling good at that point," Stephens said about Carolina's brief lead. "Everything kind of went the way it was supposed to. Sometimes it's tough to find the reasons why we don't play that way all the time. We're going to have to keep searching and improve."

The Heels (2-7, 0-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) held the Terps until late in the first quarter when quarterback Scott McBrien hooked up with Scooter Monroe for an 80-yard score to even the game with 23 seconds left in the period. The two-play touchdown drive was one of four for the Terrapins in under a minute of game action.

The Terrapins (7-2, 3-1) got excellent field position at UNC's 44 on their next possession after a quick stop of the Heels. Although the Terps only moved the ball 20 yards, they took a 10-7 lead on a 38-yard field goal by Nick Novak with 10:54 left in the first half.

Moments later Maryland's Curome Cox picked off a Stephens (17-30, 179 yards, one interception) pass and returned it to Carolina's 30. Three plays later Chris Downs darted into the end zone for a 9-yard score, and the Terps were up 17-7 with 9:28 left before intermission.

And the floodgates were officially open. In less than six minutes of game action, Maryland had scored 17 points and was in total control.

"They made some adjustments after that first drive because we stopped them, but we just didn't get it done," said UNC linebacker Malcolm Stewart. "I guess that led to that first touchdown, with guys being out of place, and we just didn't play well as a defense. From then on, well, we just didn't play well."

Maryland tacked on another score - its fourth TD to go with a field goal in less than a full quarter of action - on Downs' 36-yard run, which occurred two plays after the Terps faced a first-and-25 at their own 48. Maryland led at halftime 31-7.

There were numerous records set on this chilly but sunny afternoon. Suter's punt return for a score was his fourth of the season, a Division I record. The Terrapins' 59 points were the most scored by an opponent ever in Kenan Stadium. The 52-point margin of defeat was the third most ever by the Tar Heels and worst since a 53-0 loss at Yale in 1923. The 388 yards rushing by Maryland was the most UNC has allowed since a 41-7 loss at Oklahoma in 1980.

The second half was nothing more than an exhibition. The Terrapins did pretty much what they desired on offense.

"It's a shock, and being a young defense is not an excuse," said cornerback Michael Waddell. "We're going into the ninth game now and we're not inexperienced. We should know better and be proven by now."

And for UNC, it was a matter of giving reserve quarterback Matt Baker some significant snaps.

"(Offensive coordinator) Gary (Tranquill) and I talked last week about playing Matt Baker some in the game against Wake Forest," Bunting said. "I thought it was appropriate that in this game when it started to be a little out of hand that we give Matt a shot. He needs to play. He's a red-shirt freshman. He's earned that right to play, and I love giving kids opportunities to play and we gave him a shot."

Baker completed four of 12 passes for 54 yards.

Aiken had career-high 10 receptions for the Heels. Otherwise, there were no bright spots.

"There's really nothing I can say," Terry said when asked about any positives. "No, none that I saw. This was embarrassing."

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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