No. 25 Terrapins Drop Wake Forest, 32-14
Nov 30, 2002
By DAVID GINSBURG
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A terrific afternoon for Maryland ended just the way the Terrapins planned it: with an invitation to play in the Peach Bowl.
Scott McBrien threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone as No. 25 Maryland took a 27-point lead and cruised past Wake Forest 32-14 Saturday.
Moments after the final whistle, Peach Bowl representatives joined Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen on a makeshift platform at midfield and formally invited the Terrapins to play in the Dec. 31 bowl in Atlanta.
"Our team feels privileged and excited at being selected," Friedgen said.
It was the perfect ending to a regular season in which the Terrapins finished tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and recorded a second straight 10-win season for the first time in school history.
Maryland (10-3, 6-2) blew a chance to play in a BCS bowl by losing to Virginia 48-13 last week.
"Either way, to have an opportunity to play in a postseason is an accomplishment for this team," said senior linebacker E.J. Henderson, who had 14 tackles and an interception in his final home game. "To go out the way we did was great for the team. I can't complain about being in Atlanta on the 31st. It's going to be great."
Wake Forest was left wondering if its season was done. The Demon Deacons (6-6, 3-5) are bowl eligible, but the lopsided defeat certainly did not help their effort to receive a bid.
"I think we're very deserving, but we're kind of at the mercy of the bowls," coach Jim Grobe said. "Hopefully, some of the teams that are also on the bubble right now get knocked off and we can slide in someplace."
Led by McBrien, Maryland amassed 383 yards in offense in going ahead 27-0 at halftime. The Demon Deacons got two touchdown runs from Tarence Williams during a rainy third quarter, but their woeful first half proved too much to overcome.
Wake Forest managed only eight first downs and 140 yards of offense before halftime, and James MacPherson and Cory Randolph both threw interceptions.
"We really played poorly in the first half. It was a real team effort," Grobe said.
McBrien finished 17-for-28 for a career-high 275 yards and two TDs, and Nick Novak kicked three field goals to help the Terrapins gain their ninth win in 10 games.
Regardless of how Maryland fares in the Peach Bowl, the Terrapins have already come up with a sufficient encore to their breakthrough 10-2 season of a year ago.
"It used to rub me the wrong way, people calling us one-hit wonders," Friedgen said. "This year we didn't sneak up on anyone. Everyone was gunning for us. It was tougher than last year."
Maryland's first possession ended with Chris Downs losing a fumble at the Wake Forest 27. It turned out to be the only time the Demon Deacons' defense stopped the Terrapins in the first half.
After Henderson intercepted a MacPherson pass and fumbled the ball away, the Terrapins forced a punt and moved 56 yards in a drive that ended with a field goal.
Randolph entered on Wake's next series. The freshman took the Demon Deacons to the Maryland 25 before a deflected pass turned into an interception by Dennard Wilson.
McBrien then completed three passes for 53 yards and ran twice for 10 yards before James Lynch scored on a 1-yard run to make it 10-0.
The Terrapins made it 17-0 on their next possession. McBrien opened the drive with a 31-yard completion to Rich Parson, and two plays later Downs caught a screen pass and zigzagged 38 yards for his 15th TD of the season.
Maryland went up 24-0 when McBrien capped an 80-yard march with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Parson, and Novak ended the Terrapins' sensational half with a 38-yard field goal.
Maryland's offense became conservative in the third-quarter rain, and Wake Forest scored twice to make things interesting. Williams' second 2-yard touchdown run followed a 78-yard pass from Randolph to Jax Landfried, the longest non-scoring play in school history.
That woke up the Terrapins, who dominated the fourth quarter.
"We showed the rest of the country that is not the team that played last week," Friedgen said.