Lost sleep a bad call

Players forced to sit out chunks of game for missing curfew

December 31, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

BOISE, Idaho - As they prepared for the Humanitarian Bowl, Maryland coaches knew they would have to stop Nevada's potent rushing attack.

What they couldn't have anticipated is that they would spend valuable time and energy to corral and punish seven of their own players - including star running back Da'Rel Scott - who missed curfew a few days before the game.

After meeting for 2 1/2 hours with athletic director Debbie Yow, coach Ralph Friedgen told Scott and the other players that none would be permitted to start the game, in which Maryland beat Nevada, 42-35.

Scott needed 41 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. After he was left on the sideline for the entire first half, he said he became "very concerned" his season was over.

"After the second quarter, I was like, 'Aaaaah.' I was getting a little worried. I'm not going to lie," Scott said.

But Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin allowed Scott to enter on Maryland's fourth series of the third quarter, and the sophomore immediately made his presence felt. With Maryland ahead 28-21, Scott ran for 14 yards on his first carry and for 11 on his second.

On his eighth carry - with the score tied at 28 - a motivated Scott shot over right tackle and into the open for a 49-yard touchdown. He finished with 174 yards.

"I felt like I had to run with a purpose," said Scott, who said missing curfew was "a bad decision and I had to deal with it."

Curfew was at midnight, several players said. Friedgen said a few clusters of players believed they could get away with making bed check but then sneaking out.

But Friedgen said he was wise to them. "They don't know this was not my first rodeo. I checked again at 1 o'clock," the coach said.

Linebacker Dave Philistin, who was not among the punished players, said the "strength staff and the police officer with us checked the rooms, and they obviously let Friedgen know." Philistin said curfew was made 10:30 on the night before the game, and no one missed it.

Three of the punished players - wide receiver Danny Oquendo and linebackers Trey Covington and Moise Fokou - were seniors playing their last game.

Friedgen said Franklin wanted Oquendo, a particularly hardworking player, not to miss his last game. After Oquendo entered, the coaches decided to put Scott in as well. All seven ended up playing.

"I felt like Saint Peter," Friedgen said. "There were some mortal sins and there were some venial sins. But they all were sins. In Da'Rel's case, it [missing curfew] was the wrong decision. I think he was trying to help somebody and he got put in a bad situation."

Neither Friedgen nor Scott would say exactly where the players - who were staying at a hotel in downtown Boise - went or what they did.

"I was hurt," Friedgen said. "I think there's certain things that I expect my players to do. I think when they violate that trust, it disappoints me because I hold them in such high regard. I really don't want to be a Gestapo agency, but sometimes you're almost forced to do it."

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