Terps drop chance

UM, hoping to boost bowl resume, falls short

BC takes division title

No. 20 Boston College 28, Maryland 21

November 30, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - This is not how Maryland wanted its regular season to end: watching another team, Boston College, celebrate winning the Atlantic Coast Conference division title the Terrapins had long coveted.

But when it was over, the Terps could only watch Eagles players pump their helmets up and down as they savored a 28-21 victory and an Atlantic Division championship. It was the sort of celebration the Terps (7-5, 4-4) had imagined occurring at Byrd Stadium last weekend if Maryland had beaten Florida State and Boston College had lost to Wake Forest.

Maryland players still seemed stunned last night that the team - in first place by a half game two weeks earlier - saw the season slip away on a chilly Boston-area evening.

"Its crazy that we could have been playing in Tampa," quarterback Chris Turner said, referring to the ACC championship game Saturday that will pit No. 20 Boston College (9-3, 5-3) against Virginia Tech.

"It's a big turnaround for us. It kind of caught me off guard, to be honest."

Maryland is bowl-eligible but uncertain where it will play. With two straight losses, the Terps might have slipped to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. That bowl gets the eighth pick of ACC schools. Or they could get an at-large bid to another game such as the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Maryland has said it won't play at Washington's RFK Stadium in the Dec. 20 EagleBank Bowl, which gets the ninth ACC team, because it conflicts with final exams.

"I hope we go to a bowl. I don't know where," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "From what I've been hearing, there are some at-large bowls from other conferences."

Boston College won because its run defense, which leads the ACC, held Maryland's ground game to minus-6 yards and kept Da'Rel Scott (19 yards) from the 60 he needed to reach 1,000 for the season.

"I knew we were going to have to throw it to run it," Friedgen said.

The Eagles won because redshirt freshman Dominique Davis was just steady enough at quarterback and because holder Billy Flutie - Boston College legend Doug Flutie's nephew - delivered a touchdown pass on a fake field-goal play in the third quarter to increase the lead to 21-7.

"I don't downgrade my last name," said Flutie, who is listed as a holder, backup quarterback and punter. "I am a Flutie, and I take all the honor in my last name."

But give this to the Terps - they made it interesting.

Trailing 21-7, Maryland drove 77 yards in 11 plays. Turner hit Danny Oquendo for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 21-14 with 14:54 left in the game. The catch highlighted a stellar game for Oquendo, a senior wide receiver and punt returner. Six of Oquendo's nine catches, not including the touchdown, secured first downs and came on either third or fourth down.

Oquendo (111) and Torrey Smith (115) each surpassed 100 receiving yards - the first time since 1995 that Maryland has had two players accomplish that feat in a game.

After holding Boston College, Maryland took over on its 48-yard line with a chance for a tying touchdown. The Terps moved to the Eagles' 19, but Obi Egekeze missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt.

Boston College linebacker Robert Francois put the Eagles ahead 28-14 with a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:42 left. The Terps made it a one-touchdown game on an 8-yard touchdown catch by Smith with 14 seconds left.

Oquendo's catches were critical on a day when Maryland was without Darrius Heyward-Bey, its leading receiver. Out with a strained calf, Heyward-Bey watched from the sideline wearing a knit cap, sweat pants and his No. 8 jersey without pads. Emani Lee-Odai started in his place opposite Oquendo and Smith.

For its fans' sake, Maryland athletic officials would like a Terps-West Virginia matchup at the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Maryland would be less enthusiastic about the Humanitarian Bowl because of the travel required for fans. But the Terps might not get invited to either one.

"This is definitely better than a 7-5 team," said linebacker Alex Wujciak, who had 11 tackles. "We just didn't show it the past few weeks."

For the second game in a row, Maryland committed critical turnovers.

With the score tied at 7, Turner was intercepted by linebacker Mark Herzlich at Maryland's 45. On the next play, Davis hit a wide-open Rich Gunnell in the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 with 1:05 left in the first half.

"No one said we could do it," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said of the division title. "That's the best part of it."

RIVALS CLASH

* No. 1 Alabama 36, Auburn 0

* No. 2 Florida 45, No. 23 Florida State 15

* No. 3 Oklahoma 61, No. 11 Oklahoma State 41

* Kansas 40, No. 12 Missouri 37

* No. 18 Georgia Tech 45, No. 13 Georgia 42

* Clemson 31, South Carolina 14

Full coverage, PGs 6-7

PLAY IT AGAIN

PLAY IT AGAIN

What went right

Quarterback Chris Turner had gaudy numbers - 33 completions for 360 yards - and Danny Oquendo made a half-dozen catches on critical downs. But Maryland had to resort to passing because it was so ineffective running.

What went wrong

Turner was picked off twice for the second straight game, and Maryland rushed for minus-6 yards. Tight end Dan Gronkowski and others dropped multiple passes.

Defining moment

Billy Flutie - Doug Flutie's nephew - rolled right and threw his first career completion on a fake field-goal play to put Boston College up 21-7 in the third quarter.

What it means

Stuck on seven wins, Maryland has moved into the lower-tier bowl games.

Up next

The Terps will await an expected bowl bid but likely won't know for a week who will call.

Jeff Barker

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