Honoring Maryland’s Most Memorable Season: The Terps Downgrade the Hurricanes in Miami

Humidity…Florida humidity. That’s the only weapon Miami had on their side coming into their October 23rd, 1953, matchup against the scorching-hot 5-0 Maryland Terrapins, and you could bet coach Jim Tatum and his boys were not going to let a bit of weather get in the way of their perfect season. If they could string together wins in their remaining games, the Terps would find themselves playing again in Miami, only this time  in January and for a much larger prize.

42,157 packed the Orange Bowl in Miami to see if the Hurricanes could put up any kind of fight against the Terps. Hopes weren’t particularly high for the ‘Canes, though, who went 4-7 the previous season.  Even Miami  head coach Andy Gustafson admitted before the game, “I don’t see how any team in the country can beat Maryland.” Whether this was an attempt at strategy, or simply a statement of truth, Gustafson’s prophecy would be fulfilled. With a 30-0 shutout, Maryland hit Miami with a hurricane of their own.

Taking advantage of Miami’s inexperience, Maryland jumped out to a 27-0 lead just 20 minutes into the game. Fullback Ralph Felton was the standout this time. In the first quarter he returned an interception 18 yards to set up the Terps’ first scoring drive. In addition to his play on defense, Felton rushed for 97 yards on 15 touches, taking over some of the workload normally carried by halfback Chet Hanulak. Chet “The Jet” added another 50 yards on the ground to complement Felton’s performance. It was a day to share the wealth, with Hanulak, Felton, Marty Crytzer, Ronnie Waller and Dick Bielski all scoring for the Terps.

Chet "the jet" rounds the edge looking for running room.
Chet “The Jet” rounds the edge looking for running room.

At halftime Coach Tatum was no longer concerned about winning, but about keeping the score reasonable. He instructed the Terps not to pass in the second half and to only run out of the Split-T formation. Many of the second and third-stringers also got plenty of playing time. The Terps defense added the exclamation point by shutting out Miami, their fourth in six games.

After a huge blowout in Miami, the Terps had a week to regain their competitive focus. They would need it because a solid South Carolina team would be coming to College Park the following week, looking to spoil Maryland’s homecoming.

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