Ennis upright as goat or hero

College football

November 13, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He wouldn't mind if they weren't there, those two towering poles that create a space 18 feet and 6 inches wide for him to kick the ball through.

"I'm not a fan of the uprights," Maryland kicker Dan Ennis joked after yesterday's 33-30 overtime win against North Carolina. "If they could just do away with the upright system and have nothing there, that would be fine with me."

First he hit the right one. Then the left. Later, Ennis sent the ball between the uprights for a 28-yard field goal and the victory.

In four quarters and overtime yesterday, Ennis said he experienced the high and low points of his short collegiate career. He missed two field goals and an extra point, but his final kick is the reason Maryland passed the .500 mark yesterday.

The game, in a sense, was a microcosm of how the season has gone for Ennis, a scrawny walk-on who never played football until he came to Maryland, weighing in at about 135 pounds.

Ennis entered the season with the monumental task of replacing Nick Novak, the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leading scorer.

Initially, Ennis was perfect, making his first 11 field-goal attempts. It wasn't until a rainy day in Philadelphia against lowly Temple that Ennis missed his first field goal, a 38-yard try late in the fourth quarter.

Since the Oct. 8 game at Temple, Ennis has missed half of his 12 field-goal attempts. He missed two against Virginia Tech, including a 38-yarder when he said the ball was flat.

He is now 16-for-22 on field-goal attempts and has made 20 of 22 extra points.

"He's having a good year," special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski said.

"I'm happy with the kid because he puts up with me. The kids love him. They knew he wanted to make those kicks. ...

"He's very good in practice. He wouldn't be our kicker if he didn't kick the way he did in practice. A win is a win and he kicked the game-winning field goal."

Still, Rychleski said he wasn't happy with the missed extra point, especially in a three-point game.

"That's inexcusable," Rychleski said. "That can't happen. I'm going to put that on me and him. We've got to get that straightened out."

Coach Ralph Friedgen said he had no concerns about Ennis' ability to make the game-winner.

"I've got faith in the kid," Friedgen said. "That was the thing to do. I was upset we weren't going to score a touchdown. When you get into overtime, you've got to score touchdowns."

Ennis said he believes in second chances. Against North Carolina, he got four.

"You always know you're going to get a second shot," Ennis said. "That's just how it works for some reason. You always get a shot at redemption."

Notes -- Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson was taken by ambulance to the University of North Carolina Hospital for a neck X-ray and CT scan after he was knocked unconscious early in the fourth quarter. Wilson appeared to lower his shoulders and drive headfirst into the right thigh of Tar Heels tailback Ronnie McGill. He was diagnosed with a concussion but traveled home with the team. ... Receiver Drew Weatherly did not make the trip to Chapel Hill because he was injured, not because he was suspended, Friedgen said. Weatherly reportedly had been in a downtown College Park bar during the time an altercation occurred. Three players were suspended for their involvement, but Friedgen has not released their names. On Tuesday, Friedgen said Weatherly had a concussion.heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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