Sophomore quarterback Joel Statham did not fare too well in his first road start for Maryland last week.
Statham and the No. 23 Terrapins (2-1, 0-0 ACC) will try to rebound from their first loss of the season as they open their conference schedule at Duke (0-3, 0-1) on Saturday.
Statham couldn’t get the Terps’ offense rolling in last week’s 19-16 overtime loss at No. 6 West Virginia. He was 9-of-20 for 108 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, a week after going 18-for-25 for 268 yards and two TDs in a 45-22 win over Temple.
Maryland’s offense managed just 295 yards after averaging 419 in the first two games. The Terps also fumbled three times, losing two.
“We were lucky to be as close as we were,” Statham said.
Maryland battled back to force overtime after trailing 10-3 in the second half, but the Terps could not close out the Mountaineers in front of a sold-out crowd at Mountaineer Field.
The Terps faced fourth-and-short on their first overtime possession and opted for a 33-yard field goal and a 16-13 lead. But Rasheed Marshall engineered the winning drive for West Virginia, culminating in his 7-yard TD pass.
“I was tempted to go for it on that fourth down,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “If you make it, you’re a wise man. If you don’t, you’re not so wise.”
The loss was Friedgen’s first to West Virginia in four meetings since taking over at Maryland in 2001.
“They made one more play than we did, and that cost us the game,” said Friedgen, whose team maintained its ranking in the AP Top 25 despite the loss.
Maryland, which fell to 10-6 on the road since 2001, looks to improve to 20-5 in the conference under Friedgen and 34-9 overall. Friedgen’s 31 wins from 2001-03 rank first in ACC history over a three-year span.
Saturday’s game precedes the first of two bye weeks in 2004 for the Terps, whose next contest will be at home against Georgia Tech on Oct. 9.
“This is an important game,” said Friedgen. “We get a break after this game and we need to be 3-1 going into the break and with Georgia Tech coming to town. We don’t want to be 2-2. We’ve got to get some momentum going heading into the ACC (schedule).”
Duke continued its poor start in its first full season under coach Ted Roof with a 41-17 loss at Virginia Tech in its conference opener last week.
The Blue Devils, who have been hit with several key injuries, managed only 197 yards of offense against the Hokies, who played their first game as a member of the ACC.
Without receivers Senterrio Landrum and Deonto McCormick, who were hurt in a 22-20 loss to Connecticut on Sept. 11, the Blue Devils kept the ball on the ground. Quarterbacks Mike Schneider, Chris Dapolito and Curt Dukes combined for just six passes and 89 yards.
Saturday’s game at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C., is the home opener for Duke, which has lost 10 of its last 13 to Maryland. In the Terps’ last visit to Durham, they routed the Blue Devils 45-12 on Oct. 26, 2002.
“You like playing at home because of the familiarity of being at home, but sometimes you like being on the road, too,” Roof said. “There are advantages to that, as far as cutting down the number of distractions in terms of preparation. But I think three in a row (on the road) is enough.”
This meeting will be the 48th between the Terps and Blue Devils in a series that dates to 1932, with Maryland holding a 29-18 advantage. The Terps have won 26 of the last 30 meetings, including 16 straight from 1973-88.