Statham's four TD passes offset mistakes

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Joel Statham played so well he got to talk
about it.

Made unavailable to the media all week by coach Ralph Friedgen,
Statham threw four touchdown passes to offset a host of mistakes
Saturday, and No. 23 Maryland beat winless Duke 55-21.

Statham was intercepted three times for the second straight
game, and he also was charged with three fumbles. That gives him
seven interceptions and eight fumbles in four games for the
Terrapins (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who bounced back
from an overtime loss to West Virginia last week.

After that performance, Friedgen announced he was taking Statham
"off the circuit for talking" in an effort to help him ease into
his starting role. The coach relented Saturday, and Statham wasn't
sure the silent treatment had anything to do with his solid play.
He certainly didn't plan to make it a habit.

"It ain't nothing like that," he said. "I used to be
superstitious in high school, but now I rely on skill."

Vernon Davis caught three of the TDs -- the first of his career --
and Rich Parson had the other as Maryland won its fifth straight
over the Blue Devils (0-4, 0-2) and piled up 685 yards. Statham
finished 22-for-37 for 362 yards, and the Terrapins added 277 on
the ground. Their 100th play came on the final snap, and they
finished with 35 first downs.

"What can I say?" Friedgen said. "Looking at the tape,
nobody's thrown the ball on Duke like we just did."

Duke managed to take a lead for the fourth straight game, one of
the few bright spots in what is fast becoming another miserable
season for the Blue Devils. Starting tailback Cedric Dargan missed
his third game in row, and starting wide receiver Senterrio Landrum
also was out of the lineup.

"There is really no one phase to blame," Duke coach Ted Roof
said. "The blame goes to everyone, including me."

In a hope to generate offense -- Duke ranked 114th out of 117
Division I-A teams in yards coming in -- Roof rotated quarterbacks
Mike Schneider, Chris Dapolito and Curt Dukes, with two of three
sometimes on the field at the same time.

The ploy didn't work. The Blue Devils were held to a season-low
185 yards, lowering their average to 223, but they did manage to
score a touchdown on special teams, offense and defense for the
first time since 1977.

Chris Davis returned a kickoff 94 yards for one TD, cornerback
John Talley ran back an interception 85 yards for another and
Schneider threw a 6-yard scoring toss to Ben Patrick.

"Maryland is a good team and they work hard," Talley said.
"We were out there a long time and played as hard as we could.
They just seemed to come out on the good end and we came out on the
short end of the stick."

Those big plays all came in the first half, and Talley's score
gave Duke a 21-17 lead. That came on Statham's second interception,
and his first ruined a chance for the Terrapins to go ahead 17-7.

On third-and-goal from the 5, he rolled to his right and was
hurried by linebacker Eli Nichols. Statham threw back across his
body, and C.J. Woodard stepped in front of a receiver for his first
career interception.

"I made a stupid mistake," Statham said. "I need to throw the
ball away there."

Later in the first half, after the Terrapins took a 24-21 lead,
Statham made a poor pitch on an option, and tailback Sammy
Maldonado was forced to fall on it for an 8-yard loss. That brought
out Maryland punter Adam Podlesh for the first time.

Statham also botched a snap and fumbled after a sack, and his
other interception came on a batted ball early in the third

"I thought it was his best game, if we could just get the
turnovers out of it," Friedgen said of his quarterback. "He made
some really remarkable throws. He showed some touch."

Roof and Duke were left pointing toward a game next week against
Division I-AA The Citadel, in hopes a victory there might be the
start of a turnaround.

"We have to learn quicker and have to go back to the
fundamentals of basic blocking, tackling and throwing the ball
where you are supposed to throw it," Roof said. "These are things
that we have to do to put us in a position to win."


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