Oct. 30, 2004
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Florida State's dominance of Maryland ended with a highly improbable upset.
Joel Statham threw for 333 yards and ran for a score, and the Terrapins held on to beat the fifth-ranked Seminoles 20-17 Saturday.
Florida State (6-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) came in with a six-game winning streak and a perfect 14-0 record against Maryland (4-4, 2-3), which had scored a total of 17 points in losing three straight conference games.
But the Seminoles fell behind 20-10 before turning to former starting quarterback Chris Rix at the start of the fourth quarter. On his second series, Rix moved FSU to the 35 before a 52-yard field goal try by Xavier Beitia hit the left crossbar.
On his next drive, Rix threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a 16-yarder to Chauncey Stovall with 7:43 remaining that made it 20-17.
After a Maryland punt, Rix got the Seminoles in position for another field goal attempt by Beitia, who was wide left on 45-yard field goal try with 4:45 left.
Rix got one final chance two minutes later, but his fourth-down pass from the FSU 27 soared over the head of Lome Sam with 1:38 to go, setting off a wild celebration among the sellout crowd of 52,203.
At game's end, thousands of fans rushed the field and embraced the players - but spared the goal posts, which were guarded by uniformed police.
Maryland had never come closer than 14 points against the Seminoles, and it seemed unlikely that the pattern would change during a season in which Statham had struggled to the point of putting his starting job in jeopardy.
But the sophomore repeatedly pierced the nation's eighth-ranked defense with slant patterns and screen passes, finding seven different receivers in going 21-for-40 with one interception. On third down, he was 8-for-15 for 134 yards.
The Terrapins' defense was equally impressive in their first win over a top 10 team since 1990.
Florida State starting quarterback Wyatt Sexton went 14-for-30 for 164 yards and two interceptions, and halfback Lorenzo Booker was limited to 51 yards on 13 carries.
Booker played in place of Leon Washington, who has a separated right shoulder. Washington ranks third in the ACC with 689 yards rushing and leads the Seminoles with six touchdowns.
Down 13-3 at halftime, the Seminoles sliced into the deficit when Antonio Cromartie returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown with 12:58 left in the third quarter.
But Statham answered with a third-down screen pass to Josh Allen, who weaved his way for a 72-yard score and a 10-point cushion.
Beitia tied it with a 48-yard field goal late in the quarter, six plays after a pass interference call against Maryland's Ray Custis on a third-and-6 play that the Terps questioned.
The Terrapins regained the lead when Novak ended a 14-play drive with a 45-yard field goal. The march was extended when the Seminoles went offside on a fourth-and-1 at the FSU 33.
Maryland made it 13-3 midway through the second quarter with a drive that featured a 35-yard run by wide receiver Jo Jo Walker. After Statham completed a 33-yard pass to Vernon Davis on third-and-12, the quarterback ran it in from the 1.
It was only the second rushing touchdown against the Seminoles this season, and it ended a run of 12 straight quarters in which they did not yield an offensive TD.