Terps get leg up

maryland 17 no. 17 north carolina 15

Egekeze's FG caps late drive, puts UM in driver's seat in ACC Atlantic

November 16, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK - It was late in the game, and Maryland was living dangerously.

Trailing by one, the Terrapins had lost a fumble in their own territory to open the fourth quarter but forced a punt by North Carolina. The Tar Heels had slammed a 28-yard field-goal attempt into the left upright on their previous possession.

Armed with luck and grit and still losing by a precious point, Maryland took the ball on its 18-yard line and began its best and most important drive of the season. The Terps held the ball for 19 plays, consuming 8:43 and ending with a 26-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze with 1:42 left that lifted the team to a 17-15 victory yesterday over the 17th-ranked Tar Heels.

It was Egekeze's second game-winning field goal in the past three games. With Boston College beating No. 20 Florida State, 27-17, last night, the win means the Terps (7-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) would take the ACC's Atlantic Division title with a victory over the visiting Seminoles on Saturday night.

The win kept the Terrapins undefeated at home (6-0) and made them the nation's only team to beat four ranked teams this season.

The Terps - who seem to play best when cornered - have followed each of their three losses to unranked schools with victories over Top 25 teams the next week.

"Well, what can I say?" an emotional and relieved Ralph Friedgen said afterward. "It was an unbelievable game and a huge victory for us. We kept trying to find ways to screw it up."

Saturday's home game against Florida State is "maybe one of the bigger games we've played here," the Maryland coach said.

The final drive was reminiscent of one the Terps pulled off in the final minutes of the North Carolina State victory Oct. 25. That game also ended in a game-winner by Egekeze and, like this one, was played amid rain and gusty winds.

Egekeze thrust his index finger into the air after his kick and embraced Andrew Schmitt, whose snap in the first quarter over punter Travis Baltz's head had given North Carolina a safety and a 2-0 lead.

"You just try to treat it like an extra point," Egekeze said of the game-winner, which earned him a text message from former Maryland kicker Nick Novak. "Nice Kick," the message said.

The final drive succeeded because of a 9-yard run by quarterback Chris Turner on fourth-and-five from North Carolina's 32.

"There was no one guarding me, so I just took off," said Turner, who often appears reluctant to run.

Maryland coaches have been trying to get Turner to run more, especially in the red zone.

"He's not the quickest, but he's big at 6-4," offensive coordinator James Franklin said. "You pressure a defense when you have a threat to run at the quarterback position."

The drive was aided by a leaping catch by Ronnie Tyler on a third down from Maryland's 45. Tyler caught the ball despite being upended and slammed to the turf.

Da'Rel Scott carried six times for 17 yards on the drive despite a sore shoulder. He finished the game with 29 carries for 129 yards - his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

"I don't know if he is 100 percent yet," Friedgen said of Scott. "My worry is I see him running more straight up and down because I think he doesn't want to lower his shoulder and get hit. We got him some new shoulder pads."

Scott said he had been embarrassed by Maryland's minus-12 rushing yards in its 23-13 loss to Virginia Tech in its previous game and was determined to play with the injury. "I think I would be lot better [if healthy], but as a running back you've got to play hurt," he said.

The win wasn't sealed until Jamari McCollough ended North Carolina's final drive with an interception - Maryland's first since the Clemson game Sept. 27.

Students rushed onto a corner of the field and celebrated with the Terps players after the game ended.

FLORIDA STATE (7-3, 4-3 ACC) @MARYLAND (7-3, 4-2)

Saturday, 7:45 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

taking out the top

4 Top 25 wins

Maryland

3 Top 25 wins

Alabama; North Carolina; Texas; Texas Tech; USC; Florida

2 Top 25 wins

Cincinnati; East Carolina; Georgia; Penn State; Vanderbilt; Virginia

play it again

What went right

Those who believe in fate will note that North Carolina kicker Casey Barth knocked a 28-yard field-goal attempt off the upright with the Tar Heels ahead 15-14 in the third quarter. Or that a rainbow briefly appeared over Byrd Stadium in the second quarter.

What went wrong

Carolina led at the half largely because of a 59-yard touchdown reception by Cooter Arnold that an outstretched safety Kenny Tate missed by inches.

What it means

With only two games left, Maryland is in position to win the ACC's Atlantic Division and earn a berth in the conference championship game.

Up next

The Terps (7-3, 4-2 ACC) host Florida State in the biggest game of the season to date.

JEFF BARKER

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