Maryland Knocks Off Another Ranked Foe, Downing No. 17 North Carolina in Dramatic Fashion
Nov. 15, 2008
Turtle Power: By beating No. 17 North Carolina on Saturday, Maryland became the only team in the nation to have knocked off four ranked opponents this season (also No. 23 California, No. 20 Clemson and No. 21 Wake Forest). The Terps now have won a school-record six consecutive games versus ranked foes, having also defeated No. 8 Boston College and No. 10 Rutgers last season. Maryland entered Saturday's game as one of six teams in the nation to have beaten three ranked opponents in 2008.
Good Company: The Terps have won at least seven of their first 10 games for the fourth time in Ralph Friedgen's eight seasons and the first time since 2006, when the team finished 9-4 and won the Champs Sports Bowl.
Milestone Victory: Maryland's win Saturday marked the 200th ACC victory in the program's history. Only Clemson (225) has more conference wins. The Terps have an all-time record of 200-164-4 (.549) in ACC contests, including 37-25 (.597) under Ralph Friedgen.
Redeem Team: The Terps have responded to each of their three losses this season by beating a ranked opponent in their ensuing game. In all, the team has redeemed itself with a victory following its last five regular-season losses.
Home Sweet Home: The confines of Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium have proven friendly indeed for the Terps of late. Maryland now has won seven consecutive home games, including all six this season, having not lost in College Park for more than a year (last home loss: Oct. 27, 2007 vs. Clemson). The Terps, who have just next Saturday's showdown with Florida State left on the home slate, have not finished a season with a perfect home record since 2003. During the Ralph Friedgen era, the Terps have won 40 of 51 home games.
Day Trippers: The Terps now are 7-0 this season in games started during the day.
Winning the Close Ones: A key to the Terps' success this season has been their ability to win close games. Maryland now is 4-0 this season in games decided by seven points or less and has won three ACC games with fourth-quarter, game-winning drives.
Game-Winning Drive: Maryland won the game thanks to its 19-play, 73-yard drive lasting 8:43 that culminated with PK Obi Egekeze's 26-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining. During that drive, Maryland converted three third downs and one fourth down, when QB Chris Turner scrambled for nine yards on fourth-and-five. Egekeze's field goal marked his second game-winner in three games, as he hit one from 20-yards out to beat NC State under similar weather conditions two weeks ago.
Great Scott: Despite being only a sophomore, RB Da'Rel Scott has been Maryland's leading rusher in all but one game this season, and Saturday proved no exception. The Terps running back rushed for 129 yards on 29 carries. His 3-yard touchdown run during the first quarter capped a nine-play, 76-yard drive to open Maryland's scoring. Scott now has four 100-yard rushing games this season, and Maryland has won three of those contests (197 vs. Delaware and 163 vs. NC State). Scott's 858 rushing yards on the season are the most for a Maryland player since Lance Ball rushed for 903 yards in 2005.
Mighty Meggett: RB Davin Meggett provided Maryland's ground game with a one-two punch on Saturday, as he rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries to complement Scott in the Terps backfield. Meggett scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the season when he ran it in from 1-yard out during the second quarter to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive. His four touchdowns are the most by a Maryland true freshman since Josh Allen scored eight during the 2002 season.
Heyward-Bey Leading the Way: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has been a catalyst for the Terps offense all season, and he continued to produce on Saturday. The junior wideout recorded five receptions for 43 yards against the Tar Heels. Heyward-Bey, who ranked sixth in the ACC in receiving yards entering Saturday's game, now has caught at least one pass in 32 of the last 35 games dating back to 2006. With his 13-yard reception during the third quarter, Heyward-Bey became the third Maryland player to surpass 2,000 career receiving yards, and he remains in third place on Maryland's all-time list.
Turner on Target: QB Chris Turner continued to orchestrate a productive Terps offense on Saturday despite weather conditions that hindered passing football. Turner completed 16 of 31 passes for 141 yards and managed the game well, rushing nine yards for a crucial first down during the game-winning drive. By not throwing an interception against North Carolina, Turner has extended his streak without throwing a pick to 123 pass attempts. He also has thrown just one interception in his last 188 attempts. Turner improved to 5-0 when starting against ranked teams, and has played a key role in each of Maryland's six consecutive victories over such opponents.
On the Rise: With his performance versus North Carolina, Turner continued his ascent through the Maryland passing records. He now ranks eighth all-time in school history with 3,767 career passing yards, having passed Stan Gelbaugh (1981-85) and John Kaleo (1991-92). He remains in a tie for 15th place all-time at Maryland with 16 career touchdown passes.
Third Down Conversions: The Maryland offense had success on third down on Saturday, converting a season-high 9 of 18 third-down opportunities against North Carolina. During the game-winning drive, the Terps converted three third downs and one fourth down. In all, the Maryland offense set a season high with 27 first downs On the flipside, Maryland's defense held North Carolina to 1 of 11 (9 percent) on third down - the lowest conversion rate by an opponent this season.
Controlling the Clock: Maryland held the ball for 40:29 in time of possession against UNC, easily their best mark of the season. The Terrapins have held the edge in possession time now three times in 10 games, with the previous high of 34:17 coming against Wake Forest. The last time Maryland held the ball for more than 40 minutes was Sept. 9, 2004, at Duke, when the Terps held the ball for 41:22 in a 55-21 win.
McCollough's Latest Pick: DB Jamari McCollough picked off North Carolina QB Cameron Sexton's final pass of the game, sealing Maryland's victory. The junior now has a team-best four interceptions on the campaign after entering the season without having previously recorded one.
Halftime Adjustments: The Terps defense held the Tar Heels scoreless during the second half, marking the second time the unit has done so during the final 30 minutes of an ACC game this season (also at Clemson on Sept. 27). During first its six games of conference play, Maryland has surrendered just 23 total points during the second half, allowing an average of just 140 yards.
Defensive Stands: The Maryland defense came up big by halting several North Carolina scoring chances during Saturday's second half. After a big gain gave North Carolina first-and-10 at the Terps' 17-yard line during the third quarter, the Terps defense held the Tar Heels scoreless thanks to a Trey Covington sack and a missed field-goal attempt. When a turnover gave North Carolina the ball on the Terps' 33-yard line on the Tar Heels' ensuing drive, Maryland induced three consecutive incomplete passes to force a punt. Then on North Carolina's final drive of the game DL Mack Frost sacked Cameron Sexton on the play prior to Jamari McCollough's interception.
Nose for the Ball: When North Carolina QB Cameron Sexton dropped the ball during the second quarter, LB Adrian Moten was there to recover it at the Terps' 34-yard line. Moten, who also recovered a fumble earlier this season versus Clemson, leads the team in that category.
Diving Save: DB Terrell Skinner dove to down Travis Baltz's punt at the Tar Heels' 3-yard line near the end of the second quarter. That field position forced the Tar Heels offense to run out the clock at the end of the first half.
Sustained Drives: The Maryland offense has demonstrated quick-strike ability all season, but against North Carolina the Terps managed several long drives. After opening its scoring with a nine-play, 76-yard drive in the first quarter, Maryland orchestrated a 13-play 80-yard drive in the second quarter. The game-winning drive went 19 plays for 73 yards and took 8:43 off the clock. Maryland gained the ball on the final drive with 10:25 left on the clock, and Obi Egekeze's 26-yard field goal went through the uprights at 1:42.
Streaks continue: Several Terps extended streaks on Saturday. DL Jeremy Navarre has now played in 46 consecutive games, and his 44 career starts are the most on the team. OL Edwin Williams has now started 35 consecutive games, tops on the offense.
Series record: Saturday's victory enabled Maryland to improve to 32-36-1 all-time against North Carolina in a series dating back to 1920. The Terps are 17-12 against the Tar Heels in games played in College Park, and North Carolina has not won there since 1997.