Fla. State drives, but Terps block lane to victory

Seminoles out-gain Maryland by 235 yards, but defense stands tall in the final minute

October 29, 2006|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- The final drive lasted about five minutes. It felt more like days.

Florida State held the football. And passed it. And ran with it. The Seminoles did everything with it except score, allowing Maryland to escape last night with a 27-24 victory that brought fans storming onto the Byrd Stadium field and made the Terrapins bowl-eligible for the first time in three years.

Some defenses bend without breaking. Maryland's was twisted like a roller coaster as the Seminoles rallied from a 27-14 deficit. And it was almost too much for coach Ralph Friedgen to stomach. "I was working my rosaries pretty hard," he said, smiling.

Friedgen's prayers were answered when sophomore defensive end Jeremy Navarre blocked Gary Cismesia's 46-yard field-goal attempt with 38 seconds remaining.

Navarre was lined up over the tight end on the right side. He won the battle, and a game that seemed headed to overtime ended in regulation.

"If I didn't get it, somebody else would have gotten it," he said. "We just pushed them back and got our hands up. Luckily it hit my hand.

"It was a 46-yard field goal. We knew he was going to have to kick it a little low."

Emotions ran high after the block, with players charging toward the student section, embracing fans, screaming into the night.

"I couldn't breathe. My lungs were hurting," said Navarre, who also sacked Florida State quarterback Xavier Lee on the last drive.

"It's just adrenaline. It's crazy. I'm still shaken up a little bit."

The Seminoles gained 458 yards, compared to 223 for Maryland. They had 24 first downs, compared to 15 for the Terps. But they never led.

"They were driving on us, they were getting their yards, but we won and that's all that matters," Navarre said.

"They can get 500 yards. If we come out with a win, everybody's happy. That's all that matters."

Navarre recorded one tackle in last week's win over North Carolina State. His first career sack came in the previous game against Virginia.

Last night, on Florida State's opening drive of the third quarter, Navarre stuffed fullback Joe Surratt on fourth-and-one from midfield. Surratt lost 2 yards, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Seminoles gave Maryland the football on Florida State's 33.

Three plays later, Maryland had another touchdown.

"That was huge," senior cornerback Josh Wilson said. "That was like a turnover for us."

Wilson made his own big play, breaking up a third-down pass intended for Greg Carr in the end zone with 8:49 left and forcing the Seminoles to settle for a 24-yard field goal that reduced Maryland's lead to 27-24.

"We're on the field. We're starters for a reason. We have to show why we're starters," he said. "I want the pressure to be on me, in my hands."

You want pressure? Try defending against a team that begins its last drive on its 15-yard line and runs 13 plays to move into field-goal range. A team that had won 15 of the 16 games in the series. A team that had the football most of the game, and all the momentum in the fourth quarter.

"Defensively, we broke down a couple times and broke assignments, but we ended up getting the big play at the end," Friedgen said.

"They keep fighting. It's not always pretty, but they'll give you everything they have. It's never easy."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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