After another week of turmoil and frustration, No. 11 Clemson used five Maryland turnovers, including a Billy Davis interception at the Tigers’ 38-yard line with 25 seconds to play, to beat the 18th-ranked Terrapins, 24-22, at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.
The win all but sewed up a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference Championship for Clemson, who improved to 7-1-1 following their seventh straight victory. The Tigers earned at least a share of the 1982 ACC Championship with their win over Maryland on November 13, 1982.
It was a nice ending to a week that included stories in The Washington Post that had the Tigers being placed on probation by the NCAA and ACC for recruiting violations.
“I just told the youngsters to keep everything in the back of their minds and go out and perform,” Clemson head coach Danny Ford said to reporters after the game. “I suppose they do read the papers. But that’s why they’re a great club. They just don’t let things bother them and get to them.”
Clemson got a five-yard first quarter touchdown from Cliff Austin to cap a 16-play, 65-yard drive and then Chuck McSwain later went in from a yard out for a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Maryland rallied midway through the second quarter to cut the Tigers’ lead in half and then moved the football to tie the game in the third quarter when Reggie Pleasant picked off a Boomer Esiason pass at the Clemson one-yard line.
The Esiason interception was the first of five second-half turnovers by the Terps, who saw their seven-game win streak come to an end.
The Tigers later used a Maryland fumble to change field position and then a short Maryland punt into the stiff winds that were blowing around Byrd Stadium, set them up for their third touchdown of the game. Clemson took advantage of the short field, as Kevin Mack went in from the one to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead with 2:00 to play in the third quarter.
Another Maryland turnover, this time a fumble by fullback Dave D’Addio on a screen pass, set Clemson up for an early score in the fourth quarter. The Tigers drove to the Maryland one, but Ford elected for a short Bob Pauling field goal, extending their lead to 24-7.
Esiason then brought the Terps back with a 79-yard scoring drive on the ensuing possession, as he found Greg Hill for a 37-yard touchdown, which was followed by a successful two-point try to make it a 24-15 game with 9:49 to play.
Though Clemson held them to 63 rushing yards, the Terrapins continued to rally when fullback Rick Badanjek pulled Maryland within two, 24-22, thanks to a one-yard run with 5:55 to play.
Thanks to 25 mph winds, the Terps got the ball back at the Clemson 21, following a three-yard Dale Hatcher punt. But Clemson’s defense forced a fourth turnover of the half when All-American safety Terry Kinard punched the ball from Maryland tight end John Tice three players later. Pleasant recovered the fumble at the 24 with 3:48 to play.
The Terps got the ball back one more time and Esiason moved them into Clemson territory when Davis’ secured the victory with his interception at the 38-yard line with 25 seconds to go.
Clemson’s win put it in the discussions of a second straight New Year’s Day bowl game, either in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl or a return trip to Miami for a second straight Orange Bowl appearance.
However, three days after the victory, Clemson President Bill Atchley announced Clemson would not participate in a bowl game in hopes to get out in front of the news that the Tigers were facing multiple years of probation due to NCAA infractions.
The Tigers closed the 1982 season with a 24-6 win over rival South Carolina the following week, and then clinched the ACC Championship outright the next week when it went to Japan and downed Wake Forest, 21-17.
—file photo courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications
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