Maryland Knocks Off Florida St., 27-24
Oct. 28, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - It didn't matter that Florida State was depleted by injuries and in last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After the final seconds ticked away Saturday night, thousands of Maryland fans rushed the field to celebrate a victory that nearly got away against a team that used to rule the league.
Sam Hollenbach threw three touchdown passes, and the Terrapins beat the Seminoles 27-24 to become bowl eligible. It was only the second time in 17 tries that Maryland (6-2, 3-1) defeated Florida State (4-4, 2-4).
"It's a big win for our program, but we've still got a long away to go," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Our goals are bigger than six wins."
Maryland led 27-14 in the third quarter, but was not assured the victory until Jeremy Navarre blocked a 46-yard field goal try by Gary Cismesia with 42 seconds left.
"It wore me out. I was working my rosary pretty hard today," Friedgen said.
Maryland won despite making only three first downs and accumulating 37 yards in the second half.
Florida State sophomore quarterback Drew Weatherford was a late scratch with a tendon injury in his right ankle, ending a run of 20 successive starts. He was replaced by sophomore Xavier Lee, who came in with 55 career passes compared to 676 by Weatherford.
"I was calm and collected," Lee said. "The coach gave me the nod before the game; I came in here and showed him what I can do."
Making his first career start, Lee went 22-for-36 for 286 yards and two touchdowns.
"I was very impressed. That's the best I have seen him do since he's been at Florida State," coach Bobby Bowden said. "It didn't look like Xavier Lee to me. He really answered the bell."
Bowden said the decision to start Lee came just before the opening kickoff.
The Seminoles also played without leading receiver De'Cody Fagg, who has a sprained ankle. His replacement, Joslin Shaw, caught two passes for 35 yards but also dropped one.
Florida State has lost six of its last eight regular-season ACC games and is alone in the cellar of the league's Atlantic Division.
"It's not so disappointing because we spent so many years not in this category," Bowden said. "We've been in the top five for 14 years in a row, and here all of a sudden we're not even ranked.
"We have very few seniors on our football team. We know our future looks good, but we'd like to do it now."
The short-handed Seminoles closed to 27-24 with 8:49 left when Cismesia kicked a 24-yard field goal after Lee completed a 55-yard pass to Chris Davis, who finished with eight catches for a career-high 132 yards.
Florida State then forced a punt and took over at its own 15 with 5:30 to go.
It was a daunting situation, but Lee showed plenty of poise by repeatedly finding the open receiver during the final drive. He also received some aid from the Terps, who jumped offside on a fourth-and-1 from the FSU 46.
The Seminoles got to the Maryland 16, but a sack and an incomplete pass preceded the ill-fated field goal try by Cismesia.
"When you lose a ball game, the worst thing you can see is your players quit or gave up. They never quit," Bowden said. "We should have kicked the field goal and tied the game, that's all."
A brisk wind with gusts of up to 40 mph played havoc with the kicking game - only one of the five punts in the first half traveled more than 38 yards.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Bowden decided against punting into the wind on a fourth-and-1 at midfield.
Fullback Joe Surratt was stuffed by Navarre, and a personal foul against the Seminoles gave Maryland a first down on the FSU 33. On third down, Hollenbach threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey.
It turned out to be the Terrapins' final score. Lee then directed an 80-yard drive into the wind, capping the march with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Davis to make it 27-21.
Hollenbach finished 9-for-16 for 113 yards. He threw two touchdown passes in the first half to stake the Terrapins to a 20-14 lead.