Maryland Stuns No. 10 Rutgers, 34-24
Sept. 29, 2007
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -Rutgers doesn't handle being in the top 10 very well. For the second straight year, the Scarlet Knights were upset after climbing that high in the rankings.
Backup quarterback Chris Turner led Maryland to 20 second-half points, Keon Lattimore rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown and the Terps ruined No. 10 Rutgers' second stay in the top 10 with a 34-24 victory Saturday.
Last year, Cincinnati surprised the Scarlet Knights (3-1) a week after they reached No. 7 following an upset of then-No. 3 Louisville.
"I think as a team, we are all mad because we know we didn't come out and play our best football," cornerback Jason McCourty said. "As coach says, every time you step on for practice or a game you want to be your best and when you are not, it's disappointing."
For Maryland (3-2), it was redemption. The win ended Rutgers' 10-game home winning streak and snapped a two-game Terps losing streak that included a disheartening 31-24 overtime loss to Wake Forest last week, a game in which they blew a 24-3 third-quarter lead.
"It's just beyond words, it feels great," said Turner, who completed 14-of-20 passes for 149 yards in relief of Jordan Steffy (concussion). "It's great for the whole team, it's great for the school. We needed this real bad."
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the win showed the character of his team, especially after it blew a 14-3 lead late in the first half and went to locker room down 17-14.
Instead of talking to his coaches and making adjustments, Friedgen went right to his players.
"I said, 'What do you think, this is going to be easy?"' he said. "'Wins don't come easily, you gotta work for them. There's gonna come a time where it's that matter of will, who's more determined. It's anybody's ballgame right now, so stop sulking and stop worrying about what you just did. Worry about what you're going to go out and do.'
"And they responded."
Turner led the rally that culminated in field goals of 26 and 37 yards from an erratic Obi Egekeze, a 2-yard TD run by Lattimore and a late 14-yard dash by Lance Ball, who rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
The last touchdown came after Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel was sacked and fumbled on a fourth-and-10 play from the Scarlet Knights 20 with about two minutes to play.
Teel threw two touchdown passes and Ray Rice scored on a 1-yard run with 4:41 to go to cut the Maryland lead to 27-24. But the Terps defense held stout this time against a Scarlet Knights offense that was averaging 46 points. Rice was held to 97 yards rushing on 21 carries, including 38 yards on his last 15 attempts.
"This feels nothing like the Cincinnati loss," Rice said of last year's blowout. "We fought today. They were just the better team at the end. They just executed when they needed to execute and we didn't execute."
The victory over a top 10 team was the first for Maryland since upsetting Florida State in 2004. The Terps outgained the Scarlet Knights 458-392 while forcing three turnovers.
"Man, it's great," Lattimore said after the 16-point underdogs prevailed. "We're supposed to lose and we have a top-ranked team, we came in their backyard and got it done. Any time we beat a top 10 team we get a tombstone. Now we have to go out and buy another."
Turner, who took over after Steffy was hurt on the Terps' final series of the first half, got Maryland going early in the second half.
A 28-yard pass to Isaiah Williams and a penalty for roughing the passer led to Egekeze's 26-yard field goal that tied the game at 17 midway through the third quarter.
Ball broke off a 32-yard run and Turner hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 18 to set up a go-ahead 37-yard field goal with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
Maryland's defense held Rutgers to one first down on its next two series, and Turner led Maryland on a 58-yard touchdown drive. Lattimore capped it with a 2-yard run one play after LaQuan Williams stretched out to making a diving third-down catch of a 27-yard pass.
Rice got Rutgers close with 4:41 left by capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive. The Scarlet Knights had one more shot after Lattimore was stuffed on a fourth down run from the Rutgers 35.
A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the ball back to the 20, and Teel couldn't produce a miracle finish for the crowd of 43,803, the second-largest in school history.
Rutgers was down 14-3 late in the second quarter when Teel woke up the offense with two quick touchdown drives for a 17-14 halftime lead. He capped the first drive with a 20-yard scoring pass to Tim Brown with 52 seconds left in the half and found Tiquan Underwood on a 7-yard score with six seconds left in the half.
Jeremy's Ito's 29-yard field goal on the opening drive gave Rutgers a 3-0 lead.
A 19-yard second quarter run by Ball put Maryland ahead and Steffy pushed the lead to 14-3 with a 15-yard scoring pass to Heyward-Bey. The score was set up when Maryland recovered a fumble by Dennis Campbell on a punt return.
Egekeze missed field goal attempts of 51 and 39 yards in the first half.