Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maryland 17, #17 North Carolina 15

Question: Name the only team in NCAA Division One football who has beaten four top 25 teams this season?

Answer: The Maryland Terrapins. They added North Carolina to the list today when Obi Egekezie connected on a 26 yard field goal with a 1:42 left to give the Terps a 17-15 victory over the Tar Heels in rainy Byrd Stadium today. For the record, that's six wins over Top 25 teams dating back to last season.

This team is a roller coaster. The 7-3 Terps have followed each of their three losses to unranked schools with victories over Top 25 teams the following week. In the post game comments, Maryland Offensive coordinator James Franklin said he hoped Florida State will be ranked when the Seminoles come into Byrd Stadium next week. I'm not sure about Florida State's ranking now as Boston College knocked off the Seminoles tonight 27-17.

It was as tense as any football game I've been to but deep down I knew that the Terps would come back despite trailing 15-14 for almost the entire second half. They are an unbeaten 6-0 at home so far this season.

Maryland won because:
The Terps held the ball over 40 minutes, keeping the North Carolina offense on the sidelines and the 'Heels never really got in sync today.

North Carolina was 1 of 11 on third down plays while Maryland was 9 of 18.

Maryland’s running game returned. The Terps, which had -12 yards vs Virginia Tech in their last game, rushed for a net 195 yards today. Da'Rel Scott rushed for 129 yards and Davin Meggett chipped in with 86 yards. Both scored TD's.

Maryland Head Coach Ralph Friedgen and Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh revamped the defense this week in practice and it paid off. The defense, which gave up 253 rushing yards to Virginia Tech's RB Darren Evans, stepped up and played very well today. The Tar Heels rushed for just 75 yards and had 285 yards total offense.

There were several plays that were critical to the Terps victory today. Here goes:

1. Maryland Defensive End Mack Frost sack on North Carolina QB Cameron Sexton on 2nd down on the Tar Heels final drive. There was a holding penalty on North Carolina, but at this point they were near midfield and creeping into field goal range. The next play Sexton was intercepted by Cornerback Jamari McCollough and that was the ball game.

2. Maryland QB Chris Turner's 4th down run. Great awareness, he knew where the first down marker was and he got it. He needed five yards and got nine. In the post game comments, Chris said he saw no one was open, it was his last option so he just took off.

3. Maryland Defensive Back Antwine Perez stop of Sexton on 3rd down in the 4th quarter. Just a hell of a play. From my seats in Section 19 it looked like Sexton would easily run for the first down but Perez shed the block and made the tackle, leaving the Tar Heels short. Maryland received the punt and went on a 19 play, 73 yard drive, taking 8:43 off the clock before Egekezie's game winning kick.

4. Maryland Wide receiver Ronnie Tyler (see above photo) keeps Maryland's game winning drive alive with an amazing 18 yard catch on 3rd and 10.

Heads Up Play of the Game:
Maryland Punter Travis Baltz, after an errant snap, diving into the end zone for the safety and two points--instead of falling on the ball and giving the Tar Heels an opportunity for a touchdown. Turns out the Tar Heels ended up with 5 points on that sequence instead of 7.

The Good:
Maryland's Defense, the Offensive Line and running games. Maryland held the ball for 40:29 in time of possession against North Carolina, easily their best mark of the season.

Luck-North Carolina's usually reliable kicker Casey Barth clanged a 28 yard attempt off the left upright in the third quarter.

Maryland QB Chris Turner didn't turn the ball over despite the miserable conditions. His last interception came late in the fourth quarter at Virginia on October 4th.

Everyone rushing the field after the game, including your's truly (when I saw the security guards letting people do this). Last time I was on the field after a Maryland victory was October 1983 when the Terps and QB Boomer Esiason, upset the Tar Heels who were in the Top 10 at the time. Today I just wanted to high five folks and let out a big sigh of relief. Then order was peacefully restored after about fifteen minutes and people filed out of the stadium. It was fun!

The Bad:
The weather. Today's game was played under a tornado watch. It rained off and on during the first half, but stopped.

The first eight seats in my row were empty as was a third of the upper deck. 46,113 was the official attendance. This is a team in contention and fighting for an ACC title, support them!

The Ugly:
Heavy winds before the game put an end to the large inflated Testudo mascot that is usually set up near the end zone at the Gossett Field House end of Byrd Stadium.

The ACC Standings

So next Saturday the Terps take on Florida State at Byrd Stadium at 7:45 PM. A win would be a HUGE step for the Terps ACC championship hopes.

Washington Post recap


Anonymous said...

Great recap! I love the good,the bad, and the ugly. Poor Testudo?
Deep down, I knew they would do it too, but I was sick to my stomach at 1:42 left.
The Chapman's will be at Lane Stadium for our first Hokies game this Sat. Holly has applied there, early decision. She is respecting the instate vs out of state tuition issue. BUT we are all mindful, once a Terp fan, always a Terp fan. Promise. Go skins.

Bill-DC said...

Totally understand as in gulo, fifteen years Weena, Benjamin and I will be doing this process.

Good luck and have fun at Tech. I'll e-mail you later to catch up.