By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — 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 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped their fourth straight game and their second with linebacker Shawn Petty at quarterback due to 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 Clemson defeated North Carolina 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 first 11-win season — Clemson plays North Carolina State and rival South Carolina at home the next two weeks — since going 12-0 in their national championship season of 1981. They’d also extend the program’s longest home win 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’d desperately 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.
The Tigers ended things early Saturday as Boyd threw for a 13-yard touchdown to Adam Humphries and a 28-yard score to DeAndre Hopkins. In between, defensive end Corey Crawford returned a fumble by Petty 16 yards for a touchdown as part of his team’s 21-point first quarter.
Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He said he could’ve returned if the outcome had been in doubt, but the coaches decided not to take chances. Watkins is expected to play against the Wolfpack next week.
This one was a mismatch from the start, mostly because Maryland was still counting up its injured players.
“These kids are fighting and battling and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Edsall said.
It was little surprise things got out of hand earl as the Tigers led 21-0 in the first quarter and put up 35 points in a half for the third straight game — a program first.
Clemson outgained Maryland 310 yards to 90 in the opening half.
Petty hung tough, but struggled against Clemson’s defense. He finished 6 of 11 for 41 yards and a touchdown. He also fumbled twice.
Edsall acknowledged Petty is in a difficult spot, adding the coaches have stressed to him the need to take care of the ball.
“You just can’t do that against a top-ten team in the country,” he said.
Ross gained 100 yards on 16 carries for Maryland. Its 180 yards of offense were a season low.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)