Terps bowl over ?Noles

UM eligible for postseason game after defense holds off Fla. State

October 29, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK // Before last night?s home game against Florida State, Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach was quite frank when he said his team hadn?t done ?anything special? this season.

The Terps were stuck at the same spot they?ve been the past two seasons ? five rather unimpressive wins.

Last night, that changed.

For nearly the entire second half, Maryland?s defense protected a precarious lead and capped it with a blocked field goal, and for the first time in three seasons, the Terps became bowl eligible with their 27-24 win against the Seminoles.

The students flooded the field, as it was only the second time in 17 meetings that Maryland (6-2, 3-1) has beaten Florida State (4-4, 2-4). In the process, they ended a streak of back-to-back 5-6 seasons.

Granted, the win came against a Florida State squad that is off to its worst start since the program joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992, but it was a much needed psychological boost for a program that hasn?t hadmuch to celebrate. It was a reversal of roles last night, as Maryland was looking to win its third straight conference game, and the defending ACC champions were trying to climb out of last place in the Atlantic Division and avoid dropping to .500.

Maryland took a 27-14 lead on its first drive of the third quarter and didn?t score again. The Terps had a chance to end a potential game winning scoring drive in the fourth quarterwhen Florida State decided to forge ahead on fourthand-one with 3:20 left in thegame, but an offside penalty resulted in a first down and prolongedthe drive.

A few plays later, backup quarterbackXavier Lee?who started in place of injured DrewWeatherford ? found Chris Davis wideopenfor a 20-yard gain. Two playslater, Florida State was on Maryland?s 16-yard line and on the verge of scoring, but Holloway sacked Lee, who was penalized for intentional grounding, bringing up third-and-18. An incomplete pass set up a 46-yard field goal to tie the game with 49 seconds remaining. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen used up two timeouts to ice kicker Gary Cismesia.

But defensive end Jeremy Navarre blocked the kick, and a celebration erupted.

Florida State entered last night?s game with the top passing offense in the conference, but Weatherford did not play because of tendinitis in his right foot. The decision to give Lee his first start was made during pre-game warmups. School officials said Weatherford was available to play, but he remained on the sideline. It didn?t seem to matter.

It was third-and-eight on the Seminoles? 31-yard line when Hollenbach found Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the Terps? first drive of the third quarter. The score put Maryland ahead 27-14, but Florida State immediately responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Chris Davis caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Lee and the Seminoles trailed 27-21.

Maryland?s defense carried its momentum from the North Carolina State game into the first quarter. A week ago, the Terps forced three turnovers that led to 17 points against the Wolfpack. On Florida State?s first drive last night, it was third-and-10 when defensive end Jeremy Navarre forced a fumble out of the arms of receiver Greg Carr and linebacker Rick Costa recovered it. The turnover led to a 7-0 lead for Maryland, as tight end Dan Gronkowski caught a two-yard pass from Hollenbach for his first career touchdown.

Florida State answered on the ensuing possession, though, as the Terps? run defense couldn?t stop tailback Antone Smith. He accounted for 49 yards in the Seminoles? eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive that tied the game at 7. Maryland?s defense allowed four plays of 10 yards or more on that drive. In addition to the struggling run defense, the Terps? woes inside the red zone also continued, mirroring that of a week ago when they were unable to score form the 14-, 10- and 1-yard lines. It was first and goal for Maryland on the Seminoles? 12-yard line when Hollenbach was sacked for a loss of 11yards. The play led to a 38-yard field goal by Dan Ennis instead of a touchdown. It was Ennis? fifth in a row, as Maryland had four a week ago.

Still, Maryland had good field position throughout the first half. A 35-yard punt return by Danny Oquendo landed the Terps on Florida State?s 23-yard line and led to Maryland?s second touchdown of the game.

First, though, the Terps had to compensate for a 10-yard penalty called on Edwin Williams for holding. It was first-and-18 from the FSU 31-yard line when Hollenbach completed a 22-yard pass to Heyward-Bey for the first down. Three plays later, the duo connected again for a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 17-7 lead.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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