Roommates Hollenbach, Melendez finally connect after years riding bench

Acc & State

October 02, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- They came in together as roommates, warmed the bench together for three seasons, and then wondered if they should leave together.

Instead, something kept Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach and receiver Danny Melendez here, together, and it was their familiarity with each other that contributed to Maryland's 45-33 win over No. 19 Virginia yesterday before a homecoming crowd of 52,656, the sixth-largest in school history.

Hollenbach, who was a backup quarterback until last year's season finale against Wake Forest, continued to prove himself yesterday with yet another career performance. He completed 25 of 33 pass attempts for 320 yards and two touchdowns - one of which was to his roommate, Melendez, who also had a career day.

It was the first time the two connected in the end zone.

"Last year was a tough year," Hollenbach said. " ... We talked a lot about it. To tell you the truth, last year, I don't think either of us really knew where we were going to be at. There was a time we were both thinking about getting out of here.

"I can't tell you how great it feels - and I thank God for the opportunity to be able to throw him a touchdown pass today," he said. "I've been waiting four years to do that, and it felt great."

Hollenbach found Melendez on Maryland's third possession of the game, and it was a 10-yard touchdown pass on third-and-nine that gave the Terps a 7-0 lead. On that particular play, Melendez was Hollenbach's fourth read.

"I don't think we've ever hit that at practice," Hollenbach said. "Danny just got in there and found a hole."

Melendez, a senior who before this season had 21 receptions in three years, caught nine passes for 125 yards and one touchdown against the fifth-best defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His 24-yard grab on third down with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter landed the Terps on Virginia's 1-yard line. Running back Keon Lattimore scored on the next play, and sealed the win.

"We talk about plays, and I tell him what a certain defender is doing, or where there is a weak spot, or how we can hurt them," Melendez said. "We communicate on the field and it helped out today."

In the huddle, right before a play, the two will make eye contact.

"We'll know what each other is thinking," Hollenbach said. "He was able to really do some good things as far as reading the defenses, finding the right holes and making eye contact with me. When that happens, I know he's going to be open and I just try to get him the ball."

When asked about his history with the team, Melendez said, "You hate to look back," and declined to discuss any specifics. He said his biggest obstacle has been earning the opportunity to "showcase."

Coach Ralph Friedgen said in the past year, he questioned whether or not Melendez wanted to be a part of the team.

"He's come 180 degrees not only in school, but in our football program," Friedgen said. "In fact I'd say he's one of our leaders right now."

So is Hollenbach.

Friedgen called the fourth-year junior into his office on Friday and gave him a little quiz. He asked Hollenbach where he thought the Terps ranked as an offense in the ACC. Hollenbach guessed the lower half. The Terps are fourth. Then, he asked Hollenbach where he thought he ranked. Hollenbach leads the ACC in total offense.

"He had no idea," Friedgen said. "He has no concern about his own success. All he's worried about is the team's success.

"The only reason I point those things out to him is because I want him to grow in confidence," Friedgen said. "I want him to believe in himself because I think that's the next level with him to be as good a quarterback as he could possibly be. And I don't know where that is yet."

Part of that depends on who Hollenbach trusts to catch it.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

ACC standings

Atlantic Division

Conference Overall

Team W L Pct. W L Pct.

Florida State 2 0 1.000 4 0 1.000

Maryland 2 1 .667 3 2 .600

Boston C. 1 1 .500 4 1 .800

Wake Forest 1 1 .500 2 3 .400

Clemson 1 3 .250 2 3 .400

N.C. State 0 2 .000 1 2 .333

Coastal Division

Team W L Pct. W L Pct.

Virginia Tech 4 0 1.000 5 0 1.000

Virginia 1 1 .500 3 1 .750

Georgia Tech 1 1 .500 3 1 .750

Miami 1 1 .500 3 1 .750

N. Carolina 1 1 .500 2 2 .500

Duke 0 2 .000 1 4 .200

Yesterday's results

Maryland 45, Virginia 33 Virginia Tech 34, West Virginia 17 Boston College 38, Ball State 0 Navy 28, Duke 21 North Carolina 31, Utah 17 Wake Forest 31, Clemson 27 Florida State 38, Syracuse 14 Miami 27, South Florida 7

Thursday's game

N.C. State at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday's games

Maryland at Temple, 1 p.m. Marshall at Virginia Tech, noon Wake Forest at Florida State, noon Virginia at Boston College, 1 p.m. Duke at Miami, 3:30 p.m. North Carolina at Louisville, 4:30 p.m.

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