Lone miss, from 49 yards, sticks with Novak


`I should have made kick,' he says of try with 1:20 left

Maryland notebook

College Football

September 19, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - He is the most prolific scorer in the history of the Maryland Terrapins and the Atlantic Coast Conference, and his right foot was a huge reason his team nearly escaped West Virginia with a victory on a day when Maryland could have been whipped early.

But in the wake of yesterday's 19-16 overtime loss to the Mountaineers at sold-out Milan Puskar Stadium, all Terps senior kicker Nick Novak could do was dwell on the one that got away.

Novak provided a much-needed spark to Maryland's sputtering offense by converting three field-goal attempts, including a 46-yarder into a swirling wind that gave Maryland its first lead at 13-10 with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter.

Then, with 1:20 remaining in regulation, the game turned on his only miscue. Facing those same conditions in the stadium's south end, Novak's 49-yard try drifted slightly to the left, leaving the game tied at 13.

"I should have made that kick. I tried to kick it too hard, instead of the one I kicked before with a relaxed motion," Novak said. "There was a crosswind. It was swirling all game. But I'm not sure it had anything to do with [the miss]. I wasn't nervous at all. I didn't feel any pressure. It was a tie game, and I tried to put it away right there."

By making an extra point and three field goals - he also converted from 31 yards in the second period and from 33 in overtime - Novak moved within 70 points of breaking the NCAA mark for career scoring, held by Houston's Roman Anderson (423).

Fenner is bright spot

Sophomore quarterback Joel Statham badly needed a shot of confidence. Maryland was starving for points. And junior wide receiver Derrick Fenner was in the right place.

Late in the third quarter, Fenner gave the Terps hope by beating Mountaineers cornerback Adam Jones with a leaping catch in the front right corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown reception. That tied the game at 10 and injected a blast of sunshine into a mostly dreary showing by Statham.

Jones blamed the sun for getting beat in one-on-one coverage.

"I didn't even see the ball. When I turned back, the only thing I saw was the sun," said Jones, who also stung Statham with two interceptions. "But [Fenner] beat me. I can take one. I'm going to make more plays than I get beat on."

Statham said he looked over the Mountaineers defense and noticed the safeties rotating to the left, leaving Fenner in single coverage. From there, Statham created a jump-ball chance for Fenner, who seemed to surprise Jones with the timing of his leap.

"I saw the ball, and I just put my hands up at the last minute and came down with it," said Fenner, who leads the Terps in receptions (seven), receiving yardage (139) and touchdowns (two). "Beating him was a great thing. We just needed somebody to make a big play, especially in a close game like this. I had to come down with the ball."

Mounting mistakes

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen had plenty of mistakes to pick through after the loss. And the list went beyond the five turnovers the Terps committed, giving them nine on the season.

For example, with 9:39 left in regulation, Maryland already had used its last timeout. One of those came because the Terps mistakenly thought they only had 10 men on the field.

"We burned our timeouts foolishly," Friedgen said. "We were late out of the huddle numerous times. We had to take two timeouts because the [play] clock was winding down. We can't do that. That's stupid. That gets you fired."

Parson hurts back

Maryland senior wide-out Rich Parson suffered a back injury after apparently getting speared on a tackle following an 11-yard catch with about five minutes left in the first quarter. X-rays were negative, but Parson did not return.

Next for Terps

Matchup: Maryland (2-1, 0-0) vs. Duke (0-3, 0-0)

Site: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C.

When: Saturday, noon.

TV/Radio: Ch. 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

Yesterday: Duke lost to Virginia Tech, 41-17.

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