J. Williams bounces back for 1st Terps TD

64-yard score follows his carom on Gators' pick

13-kick Novak streak ends


Orange Bowl : FLORIDA 56, MARYLAND 23

January 03, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - One minute, a pass caromed off the raised right hand of Jafar Williams and into the arms of Florida middle linebacker Andra Davis, killing a Maryland drive that had just begun after the Terps had forced a turnover.

The next minute, Williams was sprinting down the middle of the field untouched, scoring a touchdown by completing the longest reception of his career and longest scoring pass for Maryland this season.

It all happened in the last 5:15 of the first quarter in last night's Orange Bowl, sending Williams on the wildest emotional swing of his young career.

The touchdown play, a 64-yarder that temporarily stunted Florida's momentum, came immediately after the Gators had taken a 14-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the quarter on a 46-yard scoring pass from quarterback Brock Berlin to wide-out Taylor Jacobs.

Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill set up the score with a fake handoff to fullback James Lynch and a slick option fake that froze the Florida defense and left its secondary flat-footed. That allowed Williams to find a huge void in the middle, where Hill found him, to pull the Terps to within 14-7 heading into the second quarter.

Barely five minutes earlier, Williams had failed to stretch out for a less-than-perfect Hill pass over the middle. Davis intercepted the carom, which stunned the Terps temporarily. One play earlier, Terps safety Randall Jones had picked off Berlin on a deep pass thrown into double coverage. That kept Florida's lead at 7-0.

But even with the heroics of Williams, the Terps could only stem the Florida tide for so long, as Maryland swallowed its largest halftime deficit of the season at 28-10.

Novak's streak gets boot

On the night when the Terps' year began to take off, so did Maryland place-kicker Nick Novak's season. Back on Oct. 11, Novak's 46-yard field goal, then a career-long, forced an overtime period at Georgia Tech. Maryland went on to win, 20-17, propelling it toward a 10-1 finish and its first ACC championship since 1985.

Last night, Novak missed a 46-yard attempt with 6:03 left in the first half, marking the first time since that huge moment at Georgia Tech - a span of 13 consecutive field goals - that he had failed to convert an attempt inside of 50 yards.

Novak's miss, which sailed wide left, marked the last time Maryland would mount a serious threat. Instead of pulling the Terps to within 14-13, it was the beginning of a 10-point swing that would leave Maryland in a 21-10 hole and counting.

Immediately after the miss, quarterback Rex Grossman replaced Berlin and led Florida on a 10-play, 72-yard drive. He finished it with a 15-yard scoring pass to Jacobs with 2:18 left in the half.

Stars in stands, too

The notables were all over the house at Pro Player Stadium last night, from former Maryland greats on the gridiron to the state's heaviest-hitting politicians.

Former Maryland All-America quarterback Boomer Esiason was there, as was former Terp and Hall of Fame hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah and former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard from Palmer Park, Md.

Others in attendance included Maryland alums Ben and Tony Scotti (the producers of TV's Baywatch series), Gov. Parris Glendening, CNN political analyst Bob Novak, Maryland U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, state U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Steve Bisciotti, part owner of the Ravens.

Quick kick

There were three races named for Terps fans at Miami's Calder Race Course yesterday.

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