Seminoles Sack Terrapins, 37-3
Nov. 22, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Florida State kept alive its hopes of advancing to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and buried Maryland's title hopes under a barrage of sacks and takeaways.
Everette Brown had 3½ sacks and forced a fumble, part of an overwhelming performance by the Seminoles' defense in a 37-3 rout of the 22nd-ranked Terrapins on Saturday night.
Florida State (8-3, 5-3) turned two turnovers into touchdowns in taking a 21-0 halftime lead. That was enough to ensure Maryland (7-4, 4-3) its first home loss of the season and ruin the Terrapins' bid to win the league's Atlantic Division title.
If Boston College beats Maryland next week, it will win the division and play in the championship game. After eliminating the Terrapins from contention, Florida State now must rely on them: If Maryland beats Boston College, the Seminoles will capture the division title.
Florida State safety Myron Rolle earned a Rhodes Scholarship, then boarded a private plane and joined the team late in the first half. When he entered the game, the Seminoles had a secure three-touchdown lead.
Seeking to go 7-0 at home, Maryland wasted two early chances to jump on top. By the time the Terrapins finally scored in the third quarter, on a 34-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze, Florida State was ahead 24-0.
Any chance the Terrapins had of mounting a comeback ended when Da'Rel Scott lost his second fumble with 13:19 left and the Seminoles up 27-3. It was Maryland's fourth turnover - one more than in its previous three games - and FSU turned that into a touchdown, too.
At that point, most of the fans in the crowd of 51,620 headed for the exits, happy to avoid watching the end of Maryland's most lopsided loss of the season.
The unpredictable Terrapins are 4-0 against Top 25 teams, 3-4 against unranked teams and 0-4 at night.
Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another. He went 19-for-24 for 143 yards and led the Seminoles with 81 yards rushing. But it was the defense that played the biggest part in FSU's first win at Maryland in three tries since 2002.
The Seminoles had six sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles in improving to 17-2 in this lopsided rivalry.
On their first possession, the Terrapins moved to the Florida State 30 before a sack by Brown took them out of field goal range. Then, after forcing a punt, Maryland moved from its 39 to the FSU 27 before Egekeze missed a 44-yard field goal try.
Following those two close calls, the Seminoles put together a 16-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to Preston Parker. Ponder passed for 26 yards and ran for 28 more during the march.
Later in the second quarter, Brown forced a fumble by Scott and Florida State's Derek Nicholson scooped up the loose ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Another turnover led to another touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 1:35 left in the half. Chris Turner's second interception of the game, this one by Toddrick Verdell, was returned 34 yards to the Maryland 38. Four plays later, Antone Smith ran in from the 1.