COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Try as they might, even the uniformed security guards couldn't spoil the Maryland party Saturday night.
Playing before the fourth largest crowd in Byrd Stadium history, Maryland intercepted Clemson quarterbacks four times - turning three of them into second-half scores - en route to a 37-20 victory over the Tigers Saturday night.
The win, coupled with Florida State's upset loss to N.C. State Saturday in Tallahassee, 34-28, gives the Terrapins sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and clinches at least a share of the league title. Maryland (9-1, 6-1) can win the ACC outright with a win next week vs. the Wolfpack in Raleigh.
The title is the first for the Terrapins since 1985.
Maryland fans stormed the field after the victory, joining the Terrapin players at midfield for a touching celebration. Security personnel and police desperately tried to save the goal posts, sometimes pushing and punching the revelers as they came close.
But in the end the thousands of fans proved too much for the handful of guards, and the goalposts - like seven straight opponents at Byrd Stadium - came down.
Leading 17-6 at halftime, Maryland turned up the heat on Clemson (5-4, 3-4) quarterback Woody Dantzler in third quarter.
Curome Cox intercepted Dantzler first, setting up a 10-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Bruce Perry for a 24-6 lead. The second pick came as the Tigers tried to get back in the game, Dantzler driving his team to the Maryland four. But from there Dantzler - trying to hit Derrick Hamilton in traffic - was picked by Tony Jackson off a deflection to turn away the scoring opportunity.
Dantzler's third interception came in early in the fourth quarter when he threw behind Hamilton and had the pass picked off by E.J. Henderson at the Clemson 31. That turnover set up Nick Novak's 20-yard field goal for a 27-6 Maryland lead, and also spelled the end of Dantzler for the night.
His backup, Willie Simmons, was greeted rudely by the Terp defense, as well. Simmons' first pass was picked off by Randall Jones and returned 29 yards to the Clemson 1. Marc Riley scored on the next play to put Maryland on top 34-6 with 10:49 to go.
Clemson was able to respond with two quick touchdowns to make the score respectable. Hamilton returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, tying a school record. And after Maryland fumbled away the kickoff, Simmons found Roscoe Crosby for a 12-yard score to cut the lead to 34-20 with just over 8:00 left.
Maryland put the final points on the board with 3:18 left when Novak drilled a 26-yard field goal.
Dantzler (11-of-22 for 153 yards) finished with just 183 yards of total offense, his second-lowest output of the season. His 30 yards rushing was a season low. Simmons finished 7-of-15 for 65 yards in relief.
Maryland rolled up 407 yards of total offense, 218 on the ground and Hill's 189 (12-of-21) through the air.
Clemson's only first-half scoring came on a pair of field goals by Aaron Hunt (26, 44).
Maryland 7, Clemson 0
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 80 yards in 4:22.
Scoring Play: Riley's 1-yard run at 10:38.
Key Play: Pass interference call on CU cornerback Kevin Johnson on third down incompletion from CU 13.
Maryland 7, Clemson 3
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 56 yards in 4:41.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 26-yard FG at 5:57.
Key Play: Dantzler's 17-yard run to the UM 4.
Maryland 7, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 52 yards in 4:54.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 44-yard FG at 10:31.
Key Play: On 3-7, Dantzler hits Hamilton for 24 yards to the UM 28.
Maryland 10, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 14 plays, 73 yards in 6:03.
Scoring Play: Novak's 29-yard field FG at 4:28.
Key Play: On 3-6, Hill hits Gary for 33 yards to Clemson 24.
Maryland 17, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 59 yards in 2:24.
Scoring Play: Hill's 10-yard pass to Gary at :56.
Key Play: On 1-10 from own 41, Hill hits Williams for 29 yards to the CU 30.
Maryland 24, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 10 yards in 1:25.
Scoring Play: Hill's 7-yard pass to Perry at 5:26.
Key Play: Scoring Play.
Maryland 27, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 28 yards in 2:14.
Scoring Play: Novak's 20-yard FG at 12:25.
Key Play: Perry's 19-yard run to the Clemson 7.
Maryland 34, Clemson 6
Scoring Drive: 1 play, 1 yard in :06.
Scoring Play: Riley 1 run at 10:49
Key Play: Jones' interception return to the CU 1.
Maryland 34, Clemson 13
Derrick Hamilton's 100-yard kickoff return for a TD at 10:26.
Maryland 34, Clemson 20
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 33 yards in 1:56.
Scoring Play: Simmons' 12-yard TD pass to Crosby at 8:21.
Key Play: On 4-8, Simmons hits Reames for 9 yards to the UM 22.
Maryland 37, Clemson 20
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 60 yards in 5:08.
Scoring Play: Novak's 26-yard FG at 3:13.
Key Play: On 3-3, Perry gains 7 to the CU 18.
First Downs 20 23
Rushing 9 11
Passing 11 9
Penalty 0 3
Third Down Eff. 7-17-41.2% 10-17-58.8%
Fourth Down Eff. 1-3-33.3% 0-0-0%
Rushes-Yards 35-123 53-218
Average Per Rush 3.5 4.1
Comp-Att-Int 18-37-4 12-21-0
Net Passing Yards 227 210
Sacks-Yards 2--9 3--21
Average Per Pass Play 5.8 8.8
Return Yards (exc. KOs) 6 61
Int Ret-Yds 0-0 4-61
Punt Ret-Yds 2-6 0-0
Kick Ret-Yds 6-219 4-52
Punts-Average 3-39 4-43
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 11-79 4-30
CLEMSON: T Zachery 10-44, C Jasmin 5-34, W Dantzler 11-30, B Rambert 5-18, J Scott 1-4, W Simmons 3-(-7)
MARYLAND: B Perry 21-90, M Riley 16-59, S Hill 12-54, J Lynch 3-12, C Killian 1-3
CLEMSON: W Dantzler 11-22-3-153, W Simmons 7-15-1-65
MARYLAND: S Hill 12-21-0-189
CLEMSON: R Crosby 4-61, D Hamilton 3-52, J McKelvey 4-45, A Currie 2-23, M Bailey 2-20, J Reames 1-9, T Zachery 1-6, B Rambert 1-2
MARYLAND: G Gary 5-93, B Perry 3-37, J Williams 1-29, M Murphy 2-17, J Dugan 1-13
MISSED FIELD GOALS
CLEMSON: -- None.
MARYLAND: N Novak 62