Terrapins Let Their Moment Slip Away

calvin johnson - georgia tech
All-American receiver Calvin Johnson has 10 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown for the Yellow Jackets, who improve to 5-1 (3-0 in the ACC) with Saturday's victory in Atlanta. (John Bazemore - AP)
By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 8, 2006

ATLANTA, Oct. 7 -- Throughout this season, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen has talked about what a signature victory would mean for his program. He remembers very well what happened in 2001, when the Terrapins shocked Georgia Tech in a victory that helped catapult them to three seasons of prosperity.

Playing on familiar ground yesterday, Maryland looked primed for another one of those defining moments. For three quarters, the Terrapins stood up to the No. 18 Yellow Jackets, taking a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter.

But in another agonizing reality check, the Terrapins were reminded that these aren't the old days.

With less than a minute left, Maryland failed to score despite having four downs and the ball on the Georgia Tech 7-yard line. And the Terrapins couldn't overcome two late turnovers, falling 27-23 to the Yellow Jackets (5-1, 3-0 ACC).

"I thought our kids played hard as hell," Friedgen said. "We just can't get over this hump. We had the thing right there."

The Terrapins (3-2, 0-1) took over trailing by four with 3 minutes 23 seconds left in the game. They moved deep into Georgia Tech territory thanks to Sam Hollenbach's 57-yard pass play to freshman Darrius Heyward-Bey.

With four chances to score, the game came down to one play: Maryland facing fourth and goal from the 19-yard line with 35 seconds left.

Hollenbach was supposed to drop back quickly and look for wide receiver Danny Oquendo. Instead, Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson beat left tackle Stephon Heyer and hammered Hollenbach before he could get a pass off.

"You can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Friedgen said, the image of Hollenbach as a crumpled heap still fresh. "When you can't make the play when you have it, it's not going to happen."

For the majority of the game, the Terrapins were the aggressors, mostly silencing a boisterous crowd of 51,686 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The offense, labeled conservative and unexciting this season, confused Georgia Tech's defense with myriad line shifts and formations that opened up the field. Meantime, the defense stood up to star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who earned his 10 catches for 133 yards.

And the Terrapins held a 23-14 lead after Dan Ennis booted his third field goal with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company