12:00 PM ET, September 25, 2004
Wallace Wade Stadium, DURHAM, NC
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 quarter.
"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."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||16-20||2-9|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|FG||9:53||NICK NOVAK 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 63 yards.
|TD||5:20||SAMMY MALDONADO 1 YD RUN (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 15 yards.
|TD||5:08||CHRIS DAVIS 94 YD KICK RETURN (MATT BROOKS KICK)||10||7|
|TD||14:53||VERNON DAVIS 29 YD PASS FROM JOEL STATHAM (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 27 yards.
|TD||12:31||BEN PATRICK 6 YD PASS FROM MIKE SCHNEIDER (MATT BROOKS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||8:46||JOHN TALLEY 85 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (MATT BROOKS KICK)||17||21|
|TD||4:36||VERNON DAVIS 12 YD PASS FROM JOEL STATHAM (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 75 yards.
|FG||0:14||NICK NOVAK 47 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 39 yards.
|TD||9:55||VERNON DAVIS 40 YD PASS FROM JOEL STATHAM (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||2:39||RICH PARSON 25 YD PASS FROM JOEL STATHAM (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 92 yards.
|TD||12:37||JOSH ALLEN 5 YD RUN (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||6:30||MARIO MERRILLS 4 YD RUN (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 72 yards.