Let the Maryland bowl dreams begin. Led by can-you-believe-it plays from quarterback Calvin McCall and punter Brooks Barnard and some terrific defense in the fourth quarter, the Terrapins produced a 17-14 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Wake Forest today at Groves Stadium.
"A lot of good things are in front of us," Coach Ron Vanderlinden said after the Terrapins overcame a 14-7 fourth-quarter deficit--their biggest fourth-quarter turnaround in nearly six years. With a 4-1 record (1-1 ACC), they are two victories from the minimum necessary to earn a bowl bid, and they play their next three games at home against Clemson, North Carolina and Duke.
So confident is tailback LaMont Jordan that not just any bowl will do.
"If somebody beats Florida State, we still have a shot at being co-ACC champs," he said after scoring on a 17-yard run and a 70-yard pass play and making a 29-yard run that set up Brian Kopka's game-winning 19-yard field goal with a little less than 3 1/2 minutes left.
Most of the specific postgame gushing centered on the pass McCall made to Jordan on that 70-yard touchdown and on a 62-yard punt by Barnard, so new to the Terrapins that his jersey number was wrong on the roster distributed to reporters. Cornerback Lewis Sanders also was exceptional, with his fifth interception in as many games and a 50-yard run with the opening kickoff.
McCall's spectacular play came on a first down from the Maryland 30-yard line midway through the fourth quarter after a holding infraction by Renard Cox on a punt cost the Terrapins 24 yards in field position. McCall rolled left and seemed certain to be thrown for a huge loss by defensive end Kelvin Jones. But as Jones was trying to wrap his arms around McCall, the redshirt freshman ducked out of his grasp, spun to his right and soon hit the teammate he never considered when the play began--Jordan.
Jordan had seen McCall break free and did what he was supposed to do on such situations, drift in the direction his quarterback was going and hope. McCall lofted the ball over several defenders near the right sideline, Jordan grabbed it, quickly evaded safety DaLawn Parrish and outran cornerback Reggie Austin to the end zone. That play and a 22-yard pass to tight end John Waerig on the game-winning drive offset an otherwise poor performance by McCall, who had been impressive in his first four games as a starter.
Barnard's 62-yarder near the end of the third quarter, which bounced inside the Wake Forest 1 and hopped back three yards before being downed, was even less probable. That's because he had beaten out slumping Sean Starner just this week. A freshman transfer from Oklahoma, Barnard was punting in just his first full game--and his second try fluttered just eight yards.
"I was so nervous," said Barnard, a graduate of Broadneck High School. "But after that [eight-yarder] I promised the defense that would not happen again."
Overall, the Terrapins' play ranged from sloppy to inspired. They scored on the game's first series, then helped Wake Forest gain a 7-7 tie late in the first period with two penalties on offense and one on defense. Thereafter, they appeared incapable of stopping tailback Morgan Kane (128 yards rushing), and the Demon Deacons took a 14-7 lead into the fourth quarter on short touchdown runs by quarterback Ben Sankey.
Maryland then turned dominant--and its defensive brilliance eventually forced Wake Forest to try a 55-yard field goal with 68 seconds left that was about a half-acre short.
On Wake Forest's final drive, Sankey pulled an escape at least as thrilling as McCall's. On first down from his 26, Sankey rolled right and Maryland had at least half a dozen chances to sack him. With defensive end Peter Timmins hanging on to his jersey near the Maryland bench, Sankey somehow got off a hard spiral that backup tailback Chris McCoy caught just inbounds.
Later, defensive end Erwyn Lyght sacked Sankey and safety Shawn Forte, tackle Kris Jenkins and linebacker Kevin Bishop stopped Sankey on a scramble, and Wake Forest opted for the 55-yard field goal on fourth and 10.