Though questions about turnovers, penalties and the offensive line still remain, the Terps are undefeated in ACC play, thanks to a standout effort from the defense and senior QB Chris Turner.
It was huge for us, Turner said. We really tried to approach this game as the first game in a new season. Were 1-0 in the ACC, and that feels pretty good.
Turner threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps most importantly, he didnt turn the ball over, bouncing back from a three-interception game in the loss to Rutgers last week.
Its the turnovers that get us every game, said Turner. Thats what we need to improve on.
The defense had their best game of the season so far, holding the Tigers and standout RB C.J. Spiller (after today, the ACCs all-time leader in all-purpose yards) to under 300 yards and less than 100 yards rushing.
The defenses biggest moment was the games most critical. With seconds to play, Clemson was on the Terps 28-yard-line with a 3rd and 6, down by three.
Hartsfield led the team with 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss and has emerged as a playmaker on defense.
He knows where to go, said defensive coordinator Don Brown. He knows what to do, he knows how to fit.
Safety Terrell Skinner and conerback Cameron Chism also had big days. Skinner, a senior, set a career high with seven solo tackles, and Chism made key tackles, including a touchdown-saving stop on Spiller.
Special teams played a key role in the game, as there were two turnovers on punt returns, and Spiller broke a kick return 92 yards for the games final score in the third quarter.
True freshman kicker Nick Ferrara had a busy day, showing off his versatility handling all punting, place kicking, and kickoff duties.
Filling in for injured All-ACC punter Travis Baltz, Ferrara boomed his first punt 61 yards, pinning Clemson at their 4-yard line. He finished the day with a 43.3-yard average and three punts inside the 20.
He also kicked a 43-yard field goal and did a good job punting away from Spiller.
Nick just did an extraordinary job, coach Ralph Friedgen said. He was a big factor in our win.
A controversial moment came late in the fourth quarter, with Maryland on their 30-yard line facing a fourth and inches.
After letting the clock run down and calling a timeout, Friedgen sent out the punt team, then called them back in. He had decided to go for it.
I went over to Don Brown, Friedgen said, and he says time to make a statement. [Offensive coordinator] James [Franklin] wanted to go for it, the kids wanted to go for it. I let my emotions get involved and not my brain.
After Turner was stopped on 3rd and short on a QB sneak, Franklin called the same play, with the same result.
I was kicking myself after, Friedgen said.
In talking about the play call, Franklin was unapologetic.
Whenever you have to go forward 6 inches, he said, I would hope that you can go 6 inches.
Clemson kicker Richard Jackson, who had earlier set the school record with his third 50-yard field goal of the season, was called upon twice after the Tigers offense failed to move the ball late in the fourth quarter.
He failed to answer both times.
Friedgen burned a timeout before each kick - the first of which Jackson had made while slipping and falling – proving to be the right decision, as Jackson missed wide right both times.
Maryland suffered two losses during the win however. Starting tailback DaRel Scott broke his radius and is out for the rest of the season.
OT Bruce Campbell also went down with a knee injury, but theres no word on how serious it is or how long hell be out.
The victory was an emotional one for Friedgen, who was tearing up during his postgame press conference.
I wish our record was better, he said. But the best part of my day is coming to practice and spending time with these kids. We just have to keep banging on that door until it opens.