WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., NOV. 20 -- The Maryland Terrapins ended their season today by defeating Wake Forest, 33-32, at Groves Stadium in the most unbelievable way possible.
A defense that had secured single-season marks for futility in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Atlantic Coast Conference stopped Wake Forest running back John Leach from adding to his ACC single-game record of 329 yards rushing on a fourth down and goal from the 1-yard line with 2:35 to play in the game.
Maryland proceeded to drive 99-plus yards in 14 plays for an eight-yard touchdown pass from Scott Milanovich to wide receiver Russ Weaver as time expired. Kicker John Milligan added the extra point, and the Terrapins had completed a comeback from deficits of 23-0, 29-6 and 32-19.
Milanovich completed a school-record 37 of 55 passes for 416 yards and a school-record tying five touchdowns to finish the season with an ACC-record 26 touchdown passes and a school-record 3,499 yards passing. Weaver tied a school single-game record with 14 receptions.
"It's something you can almost get religious about," Maryland Athletic Director Andy Geiger said.
It was the second time in as many seasons that the Terrapins have made an absurd drive for a game-winning touchdown on the road as time expired. Last season, Maryland beat Duke when quarterback John Kaleo passed to wide receiver Marcus Badgett for a 51-yard gain and a 38-yard touchdown in the game's final 13 seconds.
But this victory, which kept Maryland (2-9, 2-6 ACC) from finishing with 10 losses for the first time in the program's 101 years, had a whole other level of improbability.
By the time Maryland moved within 32-26 on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Milanovich to running back Mark Mason with 8:45 to play, its defense already had allowed an ACC-record 479 points this season and had given up more than enough yardage today to set the NCAA Division I-A record for most yards allowed per game in a season.
Leach did much of the damage against the Terrapins. He surpassed the Wake Forest single-game rushing record of 249 yards before the end of the third quarter. And when Wake Forest (2-9, 1-7) took over at its 35 after the Mason's touchdown, Leach got the ball on every snap.
After 11 consecutive carries by Leach, the Demon Deacons had fourth and goal at the 1. Wake Forest Coach Jim Caldwell then had a decision: Go for a touchdown or for an 18-yard field goal attempt and a potential 35-26 lead.
Caldwell's best holder, quarterback Jim Kemp, wasn't in uniform because of flu, and quarterbacks Adam Dolder and Rusty LaRue each had held while Mike Green missed two extra-point tries and a 30-yard field goal attempt into a stiff wind. But Wake Forest was going with the wind in the fourth quarter, and Green had made a 35-yard field goal earlier in the quarter.
Caldwell went with Leach.
"With Jim Kemp in the game, there is no question we would have kicked the field goal," Caldwell said.
When play resumed, Leach ran into defensive end Mark Sturdivant and nose guard Johnnie Hicks, inches short of the goal line.
Milanovich then got Maryland going with completions of four and seven yards. After two incompletions, he hit Weaver four consecutive times -- but for a total of 25 yards.
"I saw a light in our team and I started thinking back to Duke," said linebacker Jaime Flores.
"I just said, 'Believe. Believe.' "
After another incompletion, Milanovich hit wide receiver Mancel Johnson for 18 yards to Wake Forest's 45. Milanovich then scrambled for six yards and called Maryland's final timeout with 21 seconds left.
When play resumed, Milanovich passed to wide receiver Jason Kremus to Wake Forest's 17 with 15 seconds left. An interference penalty on Tom Stuetzer on Johnson moved the ball to the 8 with five seconds left.
Before the final snap, Milanovich winked at Duffner. "I knew he was confident enough to make a play," Duffner said.
Milanovich went back to pass and got plenty of time to throw. He said he thought about running, but then Weaver -- Milanovich's fourth read of four receivers -- finally came open in the back corner of the end zone, well behind cornerback Brent Morehead.