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Terrapins reach 11 wins for first time since 1976

1/1/2003

ATLANTA (AP) -- A victory on the final day of 2002 helped
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen forget one of the year's most
disappointing losses.

Scott McBrien ran for two touchdowns and Curome Cox returned an
interception 54 yards for another score as the Terrapins (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) beat Tennessee 30-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Tuesday night.

Nick Kovak kicked three field goals for the Terrapins, who
reached 11 wins for the first time since 1976. They also won a bowl
for the first time in 17 years, removing some of the sting from
last season's 56-23 loss to Florida in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2.

The win came in the Georgia Dome, where Maryland won the 2002
NCAA basketball title in March.

"This is the last day of 2002,'' Friedgen said. "On the
(second) day of the year we played in the Orange Bowl. Then our
basketball team won the national championship in this very
building.

"And now this. It's been a heck of a year for the old Terps.''

The Terrapins (11-3) were outgained 287-274, but pulled away
thanks to a stingy, opportunistic defense.

All-American linebacker E.J. Henderson had three sacks, four
tackles for a loss, broke up four passes and forced a fumble. He
was selected as the defensive Most Outstanding Player.

"I knew I had to pull my end of the rope,'' Henderson said.
"It's a great feeling to go out the way I did.''

After a 1-2 start, including a 22-0 loss to Notre Dame in the
Kickoff Classic, the Terrapins recovered to win 10 of their last
11. Friedgen, a 1970 Maryland graduate, is the first coach in
school history to win at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons.

"Winning 11 games after starting 1-2 is something I will never
forget,'' Friedgen said. "That was so emotional.''

The Volunteers (8-5) completed their worst season since 1988,
and gave coach Phillip Fulmer the most losses of his 11-year
career. Twice the defense had to call a timeout after appearing
confused, and two roughing-the-passer penalties helped sustain
Maryland scoring drives.

"I take full responsibility for the game and the lack of
execution,'' Fulmer said. "Our discipline wasn't what it needed to
be. There are a number of things that happened that are my
responsibility.''

McBrien, the Most Outstanding Player on offense, finished
11-of-19 for 120 yards. Bruce Perry, finally healthy after a
lengthy recovery from a torn groin, ran for 50.

"It's funny, because I don't think it was one of my top
performances,'' McBrien said. "But other guys stepped up when I
wasn't there to make the play.''

Tennessee's Casey Clausen completed 23-of-37 passes for 242
yards, but made an ill-timed throw in the second quarter to give
Maryland the momentum.

Scrambling out of the pocket, he lofted a screen pass toward an
area cluttered with offensive linemen. Cox ran in and picked it
off, then raced across the field and sprinted away from everyone
for his second touchdown of the season.

This one gave the Terrapins a 14-0 lead, and they cruised from
there.

"It's a mentality,'' Clausen said. "It's been a long time
since we've been physically whipped. We lost way too many games
this year. That's going to change.''

Maryland's only turnover came early in the third quarter, when
wide receiver Latrez Harrison fumbled after a 17-yard reception.
Mark Jones recovered and returned it 18 yards to the Terrapins 41,
the best field position of the game for the Volunteers.

Tennessee eventually drove to the 12 and had first-and-10. But
Henderson forced a fumble on the next play with a hard hit on
Derrick Tinsley, and cornerback Domonique Foxworth recovered at the
7-yard line.

Novak completed the ensuing drive with his second field goal,
extending the lead to 20-3, and McBrien added his final touchdown
early in the fourth quarter to put it away.

"We wanted to get after them,'' Henderson said. "We knew if we
stopped their run, we'd stop them, because they're a
one-dimensional team.''