Oct. 11, 2001
(Courtesy of ESPN.com)
Maryland's Jafar Williams takes the reverse 11 yards for a TD.
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E.J. Henderson picks up the Georgia Tech fumble and rumbles 36 yards for a TD.
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By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) - When Ralph Friedgen and George O'Leary are sitting in their rocking chairs by the lake, boy, will they have a story to tell about the first time they faced each other as head coaches.
Nick Novak kicked a 26-yard field goal in overtime and No. 22 Maryland remained unbeaten when Joe Burns fumbled for 15th-ranked Georgia Tech, giving Friedgen a 20-17 victory over his former school Thursday night.
"Two friends put on a heck of a game tonight," said Friedgen, drenched from a bucket of ice water that was dumped on him by his players. "I love to win, but I had feelings I've never had before in this game. It was one of the hardest games I've every been associated with."
Friedgen was the offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech for nine years, the last four working for one of his closest friends. O'Leary is the godfather of Friedgen's youngest daughter, the two coaches have neighboring homes on Lake Oconee in east Georgia, where they plan to retire someday.
For now, though, Friedgen has more pressing concerns, such as rebuilding the football program at his alma mater. The first season already has been a rousing success, with the unbeaten Terrapins leading the Atlantic Coast Conference and assured of just their third winning season since 1985.
Georgia Tech (4-2, 1-2) was probably knocked out of the ACC race after becoming the first ranked team to lose to the Terrapins (6-0, 4-0) since 1990.
"I congratulated Ralph after the game and said it was a good win," O'Leary said. "Like I said before, one of us was going to be happy after the game and one of us was going to be sad."
Novak, a redshirt freshman, forced the extra session with a career-long 46-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. He had earlier missed a 32-yarder and was just 4-of-11 before making the tying kick.
Friedgen called his kicker over to the sideline after Georgia Tech called a timeout attempting to mess up his routine.
"I told him that he kicked one just like that yesterday at the end of our workout," Friedgen said. "I told him to hit it like he did yesterday and we would be just fine."
Georgia Tech, playing its second overtime game in 12 days, won the coin toss and elected to put Maryland on offense first. The Terrapins picked up one first down before settling for Novak's short field goal.
The ball went over to the Yellow Jackets at their 25. On second-and-7, Burns took the handoff on a simple run up the middle but appeared to hit one of his own lineman as he tried to cut. The ball popped loose, safety Randall Jones fell on it for the Terrapins and the game came to a shocking end.
"I was coming up to make the tackle, and I saw the ball pop off him," Jones said. "I just dove on it."
Burns' fumble was his second of the game and sixth turnover of the game for the Yellow Jackets, who still managed to overcome a 14-0 deficit. Luke Manget kicked a 39-yard field goal with 6:33 remaining to put Georgia Tech ahead for the first time, 17-14.
With Maryland out of timeouts, Burns made another critical mistake by running out of bounds on third down with Tech in position to run the clock down to less than a minute.
"It's stupidity," O'Leary said. "That's the sort of major, major mistake that causes people to have five seconds left to kick a field goal."
The Terps got the ball at their own 20 and drove to the Georgia Tech 46, where Shaun Hill faced third-and-10 with 15 seconds left. The senior quarterback hooked up with freshman Rich Parson on a 17-yard completion, Maryland downed the ball after the chains were set, and Novak booted the long field goal as time ran out.
Georgia Tech, favored to win the ACC after Florida State lost to North Carolina, has lost twice in overtime. Clemson beat the Yellow Jackets 47-44 on Sept. 29.
After a dismal first half, Georgia Tech abandoned its running game and managed to get the lead.
Burns recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter, George Godsey threw a 25-yard touchdown to Jonathan Smith on the first play of the fourth period and the Yellow Jackets finally got the lead with a 68-yard drive.
Maryland went ahead on Georgia Tech's first possession. With third-and-1 at the Terrapins 42, Burns fumbled while taking a handoff from Godsey. The ball was kicked loose from a scrum of players, Henderson scooped it up at the 36 and ran the other way for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game.
The Terrapins made it 14-0 in the second quarter after another Yellow Jackets turnover, only this time the offense had plenty of work to do. Randall Jones intercepted Godsey's pass at the Maryland 31, launching an eight-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with receiver Jafar Williams scoring on an 11-yard reverse.
The Yellow Jackets had first-and-goal at the Maryland 6 late in the first half, but a sack and two straight penalties forced Manget to attempt a 37-yard field goal. He missed as the half ended.
The momentum shifted when Georgia Tech overcame another mistake. Godsey threw a 13-yard pass to Will Glover, who lost the ball as he stretched for the goal line. But Burns, trailing the play, fell on the fumble in the end zone to cut Maryland's lead in half.
In the end, another fumble doomed the Yellow Jackets.
"You can't turn the ball over six times," O'Leary said. "I'm disappointed in the offense."