UM goes overtime, tops Tech

Terps blow 14-0 lead but earn 20-17 win to run record to 6-0

Novak kicks 2 late FGs

Maryland scores first in OT, then recovers Tech fumble to win

October 12, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Nick Novak, who had tied the game with a 46-yard field goal on the last play of regulation, kicked a 26-yard field goal in overtime, and then No. 22 Maryland recovered a Georgia Tech fumble to score a 20-17 upset of the No. 15 Yellow Jackets Tech last night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Maryland is 6-0 and 4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Georgia Tech fell to 4-2 and 1-2.

On the first possession of overtime, Novak kicked the 26-yarder to put the Terps ahead. The Yellow Jackets then had possession, but Maryland's Randall Jones recovered Joe Burns' fumble at the Maryland 25 to secure the win.

In a game pitting two of the top three offenses in the league, neither looked stellar moving the ball. But for the longest time, the Terrapins' defense - one of the league's worst last season - hindered a Yellow Jackets offense that came into the game averaging 40 points.

What's more, the unit, led by Maryland defensive coordinator Gary Blackney, did so without shedding any of the blitzing characteristics that had played a major role in its success before last night.

The first big play came on the sixth snap of the game, when linebacker E.J. Henderson picked up a Burns fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown with 12:47 left in the first quarter, giving the Terps a 7-0 lead.

The next big play came just after the beginning of the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets - struggling on the ground with 26 first-half yards on 24 carries - took to the air, and quarterback George Godsey's pass was intercepted by Randall Jones at the Maryland 32.

Up to this point, the Terps hadn't done well at capitalizing on their opportunities, like when they got the ball at midfield only to get bogged down with penalties before failing on a fake field-goal attempt.

But after Jones' interception, Maryland went 68 yards on nine plays, getting to the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown run by Jafar Williams. On what looked like an option right with the pitch headed for Rich Parson, quarterback Shaun Hill instead flipped the ball to Williams - heading in the opposite direction - who found no defenders as Maryland took a 14-0 lead with 6:32 left in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets wandered in search of a break, which Maryland wouldn't allow. Godsey escaped a sure Leon Joe sack and appeared to have Kerry Watkins open deep, only to have Tony Okanlawon pick off the pass at the Maryland 6.

Georgia Tech, benefiting from Maryland's field position after that interception, got the ball back at the Terps' 29 with 2:56 remaining after Kelly Rhino returned a Brooks Barnard punt 22 yards. Tech moved the ball to the Maryland 6. Campbell caught a pass beyond the goal line but was out of bounds.

Then Henderson sacked Godsey, a play followed by a false start and an encroachment call that left Tech coach George O'Leary with a Luke Manget field goal as his only option. But Manget's kick from 37 yards missed as time ran out in the first half.

But every piece of magic that the Terps used to their advantage in the first half disappeared in the second.

After an interception and a fumble in the first four minutes, Georgia Tech pulled it together for the next 19 minutes, regaining the support of most of the 40,574 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Leaning on the pass, the Yellow Jackets drove 80 yards in 10 plays, the effort culminated when Burns recovered a Will Glover fumble in the end zone, cutting Maryland's lead to 14-7 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.

Then, at the end of the third quarter, Godsey found Jonathan Smith slicing through the middle of the Terps' defense. Smith caught the pass and ran in from 26 yards to tie the game with 14:54 left.

Any momentum Maryland gained in the first half was gone by now, sucked up in the noise that rose in the rafters with each big Georgia Tech play.

For the first time, Bruce Perry was held to fewer than 100 yards rushing. And Tech defensive ends Nick Rogers and Greg Gathers kept constant heat on Hill, who had his second two-interception game of the season.

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