Short-handed Maryland drops fourth straight

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Photo - Ken Ruinard/Anderson Independent Mail via AP
Corey Crawford returned a fumble by Maryland quarterback Shawn Petty 16 yards for a touchdown in Clemson's victory Saturday.
Ken Ruinard/Anderson Independent Mail via AP Corey Crawford returned a fumble by Maryland quarterback Shawn Petty 16 yards for a touchdown in Clemson's victory Saturday.
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CLEMSON, S.C. -- Maryland coach Randy Edsall has the postgame speech down pat, sounding the same note to the Terrapins loss after loss, season-ending injury after injury.

The Terps (4-6, 2-4 ACC) dropped their fourth straight game and their second with linebacker Shawn Petty at quarterback because injuries to four others at the position, falling 45-10 at No. 10 Clemson on Saturday.

This time, Maryland was also without leading tackler Demetrius Hartsfield and star freshman receiver Stefon Diggs.

Petty struggled at moving the offense, and Maryland struggled slowing down one of the country's top offenses. Edsall acknowledged the difficulty of keeping his players sharp and invigorated when there's so much going against them this season.

"It's tough," Edsall said. "It's really all about pride. One of the things we talk about all the time is just 'Play every play as hard as you can for 60 minutes and play it like it's the last play you're ever going to play.'

"It won't always work against superior talent," he said. "But if you do that, at least you can look yourself in the mirror and say, 'I did everything I could do to help my team.' That's all you can do."

Maryland is hopeful of ending the season in a positive fashion, although it won't be easy. The Terps finish up against No. 8 Florida State and North Carolina, who are a combined 15-5 this season.

Clemson's got its fingers crossed Maryland can bounce back since it may be the only chance the Tigers have of a second straight ACC championship. A Florida State loss coupled with a Clemson defeat of N.C. State next week would send the Tigers (9-1, 6-1) back to the league title game as Atlantic Division champions. The Seminoles hold the tiebreaker since they defeated Clemson 49-37 on Sept. 22.

Tajh Boyd threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson's victory, its sixth straight win overall and record 12th in a row at Death Valley.

Boyd and the Tigers are focused on what they can accomplish down the stretch. Winning out would mean their first 11-win season -- Clemson plays N.C. State and rival South Carolina at home the next two weeks -- since going 12-0 in their national championship season of 1981. The Tigers also would extend the program's longest home winning streak.

"They've been playing football here for 116 years, and I think it's kind of special that this group did it," offensive coordinator Chad Morris said.

Perhaps most of all, a successful finish might bring the Tigers a second straight bid to the BCS, something they desperately would love given last year's 70-33 Orange Bowl debacle against West Virginia.

All that, Boyd said, is for another day.

"There's a standard we're trying to play to each time we go out there," he said.

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