By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 16, 2006
Shortly after sprinting 56 yards into the end zone on Saturday, Maryland running back Keon Lattimore dropped to one knee, put his head down and waited for teammates to congratulate him.
"It was the biggest game of my career," said Lattimore, whose career-long touchdown run provided the go-ahead points in the Terps' 28-26 comeback victory against Virginia.
"I just want to add to this."
If things stay the same, Lattimore will have plenty of chances to do so.
Since training camp, Coach Ralph Friedgen has called the running backs the strength of the Terrapins' offense, going to a rotation of players to fill the spot.
Friedgen plays each running back according to predetermined personnel groups, involving Lance Ball, Josh Allen and J.P. Humber.
But through the team's first six games, Ball and Lattimore have emerged as the primary ballcarriers.
On Saturday, Lattimore and Ball served as a critical one-two punch while helping the Terrapins erase a 20-point deficit and rally to beat the Cavaliers.
The two have taken on complementary roles, with Ball excelling at gritty runs between the tackles and Lattimore showing breakaway speed. Both put their skills on display against the Cavaliers.
First, there was Lattimore, whose big run came with a little more than nine minutes left and the Terps trailing 20-14.
"I knew that once I got through the line there would be a gap," said Lattimore, who said he noticed the hole while watching tape.
"There was a hole in that defense where all you've got to do is beat that last guy, and I used some of my speed to beat him."
Lattimore finished with 15 carries for 114 yards to break the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career.
"Keon found the open area and put on the speed.," Friedgen said. "Keon has good speed when he's really running, so he is capable of doing that."
Meantime, Ball finished with 12 carries for 76 yards, including several critical first-down conversions.
While Ball has been steady between the tackles this season, Lattimore's long run Saturday showed the Terps have another big-play option on offense.
"In the past, we get a 22-yarder and that's a big gain for us," Friedgen said. "Being able to break one all the way, that adds a lot to your offense."
Terrapins Notes: Friedgen said he wants to underscore the importance of Saturday's win and also keep the Terps from suffering a hangover for the their next opponent -- ACC rival North Carolina State.
"We have to continue to improve," Friedgen said.
"We're improving as a team, but we didn't play our best yesterday either." . . .
Friedgen said he expects defensive end Barrod Heggs to practice this week. Friedgen suspended Heggs for an undisclosed violation of team rules last week and said the backup's status for the North Carolina State game is "yet to be determined." Heggs did not travel with the team to Virginia.