Terps Dig Out, Rally Past Cavs

keon lattimore - university of maryland
Keon Lattimore, above, and Maryland reel off 28 consecutive points Saturday at Scott Stadium to likely save their season while giving Ralph Friedgen his first victory at Virginia. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 15, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Oct. 14 -- As Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell took his team to the line for a two-point conversion attempt that would help decide Saturday night's game, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen kept a hand in his pocket.

There, where none of the 59,367 fans at Scott Stadium could see, Friedgen wrapped his fingers around a rosary.

Then, he prayed.

Moments later, cornerback Josh Wilson batted away Sewell's pass into the end zone to help the Terrapins complete the biggest comeback of Friedgen's tenure at Maryland, a 28-26 victory against rival Virginia.

"I talked to them about that moment I was telling them about," Friedgen said, his voice quivering at times after the game. "Well, it showed up. I told them, 'You've got to reach down and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop worrying about how tired you are and think about winning the football game.' "

Indeed, the Terps relied on much more than divine intervention.

The Cavaliers turned into enablers in the second half, muffing a punt deep in their territory to set up Lance Ball's one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The play triggered a 28-point onslaught.

"That's what we were looking for," said Maryland cornerback Isaiah Gardner, who recovered Emmanuel Byers's fumble on the punt. "We needed a big play to go in our favor. I thought it was an opportunity to help my team make this momentum change. I knew everything changed right at that moment."

Virginia (2-5, 1-2 ACC) attacked the Terrapins' vulnerable run defense in the first half. Sewell, who finished with 92 yards rushing, scored on a 36-yard touchdown run to cap his team's opening drive and put the Cavaliers up 7-0. An interception thrown by Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach set up Virginia's next score, a 26-yard field goal by Chris Gould to make it 10-0 in the first quarter.

Sewell made it 17-0 when he found Kevin Ogletree, who battled down the sideline with Wilson, open in the end zone with 3 minutes 21 seconds left in the first half. Gould tacked on another field goal just before the half to make it 20-0.

But the muffed punt and Ball's touchdown turned the tide. From there, the Terrapins (4-2, 1-1) kept getting more breaks.

Two series later, Virginia punter Chris Gould shanked a kick deep in his own territory. His 16-yard punt gave Maryland the ball on the Virginia 31-yard line. Six plays later, Hollenbach bootlegged to his right and scored from three yards out to make it 20-14.

Now with the momentum clearly going their way, Maryland's Keon Lattimore scored the go-ahead touchdown, breaking a 56-yard run to give the Terps a 21-20 advantage with 9:11 left.

"It feels good to be able to contribute," said Lattimore, who rebounded from a rough game at Georgia Tech to rush for 114 yards on 15 carries.

Two plays later, linebacker Erin Henderson provided what proved to be the difference-maker, intercepting a Sewell pass and racing 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-20 with eight minutes left to play.

With just over five minutes remaining and Maryland leading 28-20, Virginia faced a fourth and four from the Maryland 17. Coach Al Groh eschewed a field goal attempt and went for the first down.

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh, Al Groh's son, called for a pass down the sideline to Deyon Williams in the end zone. The ball sailed out of bounds, leaving Williams no chance, and Maryland took over on downs.

"The quarterback makes the throws," Groh said. "I had no problem with the play."

Later, Sewell, making just his fourth career start, hit Ogletree down the middle of the field with a 44-yard touchdown strike with 2:37 left to make it 28-26. But on the two-point conversion attempt, Wilson made his big play.

After the game, the Terps' largest comeback victory since 1993 triggered a moment of euphoria in the locker room, where the entire team sang a victory song loud enough to penetrate the concrete stadium walls.

"I was going nuts," Friedgen said. "Coaches were going nuts. The kids were going nuts. It was such a release."

Staff writer Adam Kilgore contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company