Terps Hold On

With under a minute to go, Maryland's Jeremy Navarre, far left, blocks a 46-yard field goal that would have tied the game. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 29, 2006

As the clock ticked down on a frigid, windy night at Byrd Stadium, the Maryland Terrapins suffered through Florida State's final drive.

The Terrapins watched for 13 agonizing plays -- a span of nearly five minutes -- as the Seminoles attempted to get in position for a game-tying field goal, or a game-winning touchdown. Twice, the Terrapins missed chances to end the drive and seal the game, first when nose tackle Conrad Bolston dropped a possible interception and then when an offside penalty nullified what looked like a Maryland stop on fourth and one.

But on the 14th play, with 49 seconds left, Maryland defensive end Jeremy Navarre blocked Gary Cismesia's 46-yard field goal attempt to help Maryland preserve a 27-24 victory over Florida State.

"I was working my rosary hard today," said Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen, whose team qualified for its first appearance in a bowl game since the 2003 season.

Byrd Stadium fans stormed the field, clustering around the players gathered at the 50-yard line to form a whooping and hollering sea of black in celebration of the latest heart-stopping moment for a team that has won three straight emotionally draining contests.

"They keep fighting, that's just what they do," Friedgen said of his players. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but they give you all they have."

Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach threw three touchdown passes, two to redshirt freshman wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, and the Terrapins improved to 2-15 against the Seminoles. Despite being outgained 458 yards to 223 on offense, the Terps improved to 6-2, 3-1 in the ACC.

Seminoles backup quarterback Xavier Lee, who started after FSU coaches decided during warmups that starter Drew Weatherford wasn't able to play, went 22 for 36 with two touchdown passes. But it wasn't enough, even though the Terrapins committed a season-high 10 penalties for 75 yards. Maryland entered the game averaging 38 penalty yards per game, but surpassed that by halftime, committing seven penalties for 60 yards.

Still, Dan Ennis's 39-yard field goal with 2:19 left in the first half put the Terps ahead 20-7.

But Florida State answered with Lee's passing -- a dominant theme throughout the second half. Lee quickly moved the Seminoles, who took over with 2:12 left in the first half. He capped an 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Greg Carr, who pulled down a high pass in the corner of the end zone for his eighth touchdown reception of the season to make it 20-14 at halftime.

Carr hauled in a 37-yarder earlier in the drive from Lee, a sophomore who had played in three Seminole blowouts. He last saw action on Oct. 14 in a 51-24 victory over Duke when he threw three interceptions in mop-up duty. But Lee made his first career start when tendinitis in Weatherford's right foot prompted coaches to hold him out.

Florida State took a risk early in the second half, going for it on fourth and one at the 50-yard line. Navarre hit Seminoles short-yardage specialist Joe Surratt behind the line of scrimmage.

The Seminoles drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to make matters worse, giving Maryland the ball with only 33 yards to the end zone. Three plays later, Heyward-Bey caught his second touchdown pass of the game. The redshirt freshman hauled in Hollenbach's pass at the 15-yard line, then performed a spin move past cornerback J.R. Bryant to push Maryland's lead to 27-14 with 9:24 left in the third quarter.

Florida State responded when Lee found Chris Davis open down the middle of the field from 17 yards out to cut the score to 27-21 with 3:42 left in the third quarter. The scoring play capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive that featured two Lee scrambles for a combined 28 yards.

The Maryland offense was kept to a pair of three-and-outs before Florida State closed the gap to 27-24 with 8:49 left. Lee's 55-yard pass gave the Seminoles first and goal on the 10. After Terps cornerback Josh Wilson tipped away a pass intended for Carr in the end zone, the Seminoles settled for Cismesia's 24-yard field goal.

From there, the Terps simply hung on.

"Six," Wilson said of his team's win total. "And counting."

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