Terps Stonewall #19 Ranked Wake Forest 26-0
Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey catches a pass for touchdown against a Wake Forest defender during an NCAA football game at the Chevy Chase Field in College Park, MD on October 18, 2008. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Coming into Saturday afternoon’s meeting with #19-ranked Wake Forest, redemption was on Maryland’s minds.  Two weeks ago the Terrapins, having beaten two ranked teams in three weeks and on the cusp of being ranked themselves for the first time since 2006, were outplayed and embarrassed by an unheralded University of Virginia squad, 31-0.  With two weeks to stew over that loss, the Terps started strong, ended strong, and in between rode stifling defense and a hot kicker to a 26-0 victory over the Demon Deacons.
 
“We finally put a whole game together,” said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen, praising his team’s effort as “by far the best we’ve played all year.”  

The win was Maryland’s (5-2, 2-1) fifth straight win over a ranked team, after beating Clemson (then #20) and California (then #23) in 2008 and Rutgers (#10) and Boston College (#8) in 2007.

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and kicker Obi Egekeze, both of whom suffered from droughts earlier in the season, had career days against the Demon Deacons (4-2, 2-1).  Heyward-Bey pulled in 11 catches, his career best and most receptions by a Terp since 1995, while Egekeze made field goals of 26, 35, 39 and 40 yards, the most successful field goals by a Terp since Dan Ennis in 2006.

The Terps offense came out strong at the start of the first half, the memory of their 31-0 shellacking at the hands of Virginia still fresh in the player’s minds.  Heyward-Bey and quarterback Chris Turner called the defeat an “embarrassing loss,” but Friedgen reminded his team during the off week that “there isn’t anything we can do to change” the loss, and the Terps responded well to start the game.  

Starting at their own 42 after a 34-yard return by Torrey Smith, the Terps drove the length of the field in nine plays.  Turner connected with Heyward-Bey for nine yards on the first play of the game, the first reception for the wide receiver since September 20th against Eastern Michigan.  

“Every game I go in thinking the first ball is coming to me,” said Heyward-Bey.  He downplayed his lack of participation in the Terps offense against Virginia, saying “it’s only frustrating when you lose.”

Wake Forest, on the other hand, was unprepared for the pass-happy Terps offense.  Said Demon Deacons defensive end Matt Robinson: “We were thinking they would come in and try to run it down our throats, then they came out doing play action, and it caught us off guard.”

Heyward-Bey pulled down two more passes in the opening drive, including a trick-play touchdown catch on a pass from running back Da’Rel Scott.

With a 2nd-and-6 from the Wake Forest nine yard line, Turner took the snap and pitched right to Scott.  The spry back pulled up and lobbed a high pass to Heyward-Bey in the end zone, and the 6’3” receiver outleaped defensive back Brandon Ghee for the score.  Egekeze made the extra point to give Maryland a 7-0 lead.
 
The Terrapins' Danny Oquendo heads to the end zone for a touchdown during an NCAA football game at the Chevy Chase Field in College Park, MD on October 18, 2008. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
Heyward-Bey’s touchdown was his fourth of the season, and moved him into a fourth-place tie for all-time touchdown receptions by a Maryland player.  By the end of the second quarter Heyward-Bey had already set a new career high for receptions in a game, and finished the game with 11 for 101 yards.

After forcing a Wake Forest punt on the next possession, Maryland gave the visitors from Salem a gift when Scott mishandled a handoff from Turner and Wake Forest recovered the fumble at Maryland’s 25-yard line.  However, the Terps defense held strong and forced Wake Forest kicker Shane Popham to attempt a 40-yard field goal.

Popham, the backup kicker/punter, was pressed into service for the second straight game after starter Sam Swank was unable to recover from a leg injury.  

Kicking into a slight wind, Popham sent his attempt wide left, keeping his Demon Deacons off the scoreboard.  Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe praised Popham but acknowledged Swank’s importance to the team, saying “I really like the way [he] hit the ball,” but “anytime your trade-off is a redshirt freshman for a fifth-year senior, that’s not a really good trade-off.”

Both teams traded punts before Scott again put the ball on the ground at the Maryland 25-yard line, giving Riley Skinner a short field to work with early in the second quarter.  Three consecutive incomplete passes thwarted the Wake Forest drive, and Popham again came out to attempt a 40-yard field goal.  Kicking at the east uprights instead of the west, Popham’s result was the same as his attempt was long enough but wide.

The Terps continued to stifle Wake Forest’s offense through the end of the second half, allowing the Demon Deacons only 105 combined yards of offense.  Meanwhile, Maryland worked down the field with short passes and runs as Wake Forest’s defense was unable to stem the flow.

Heyward-Bey made a highlight reel grab to put the Terps in Wake Forest’s red zone for the second time, slicing between a double team and making a juggling catch while on his back on the 14-yard line. “The crowd actually helped me out,” said Heyward-Bey of the play.  “I didn’t know the ball was in the air.  When the crowd [gasped] I looked up.”

However, a clipping penalty on Turner on the ensuing play forced the Terps to attempt a field goal two plays later.  Egekeze’s attempt was from 40 yards out, the same distance from which Popham had already missed twice, but Egekeze’s kick from that spot was true and he extended Maryland’s lead to 10-0.

Wake Forest’s offensive woes continued, and the Terps found themselves with the ball on their own 26-yard line with 1:07 left until halftime.  Not content to sit on the double-digit lead, Turner led his team down the field, spurred by four passes to tight end Dan Gronkowski, and Egekeze knocked through a 39-yard field goal with four seconds left to give his Terps the 13-0 lead.

Said Wake Forest receiver D.J. Boldin of his team’s morale at the half, “the team never got down…we still knew we had a chance, being down two possessions.”  History bolstered his claim, as last season Wake Forest overcame a 24-3 deficit to beat Maryland 31-24 in overtime.  Unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, however, history was not to repeat itself at Byrd Stadium.

Kicking off to start the second half, Maryland allowed one first down before forcing Wake Forest to punt.  Popham shanked the punt, one of his nine in the game, and the Terps worked the ball to the Wake Forest 18 where Egekeze hit a 35-yard field goal to extend the Terps’ lead to 16-0.

On Maryland’s next possession Egekeze added a fourth field goal on a low, wobbly kick from the 26 to make it a three possession game at 19-0.  Egekeze’s field goals and kickoffs became progressively shorter and lower as the game wore on, and several times he pulled up grabbing his right hamstring after a kick, but he did not receive any treatment on the sidelines and seemed fine walking off the field after the game.

Having set up the running game with the passing game, Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin relied heavily on Scott in the second half, despite the running back’s two lost fumbles and an earlier fumble recovered by teammate Edwin Williams.

“I’m not worried about [Scott],” said Friedgen when questioned about the back’s fumble woes.  “I told him, ‘I’m not going to stop giving you the ball so you’ve got to start holding on to it.’”

Quarterback Chris Turner of the Terrapins passed for 321 yards on a 28-of-41 to lead his team to victory during an NCAA football game at the Chevy Chase Field in College Park, MD on October 18, 2008. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
While Heyward-Bey and Scott received most of the attention from Wake Forest’s defense, Turner quietly racked up 321 yards passing on 28-of-41 passing attempts, according to Turner the most times he’s thrown since high school.

“Chris had fun, he and I were joking around the whole game,” said Heyward-Bey.  “When Chris has fun, he plays well.”

Turner also joked that he was worried for most of the game that Scott would finish the game with more passing touchdowns than the quarterback, but a 50-yard strike to Danny Oquendo with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter quelled that worry.

Working with a short field after Wake Forest was forced to punt from their 8-yard line, Maryland called three straight running plays for David Meggett, one of which was nullified by a holding penalty, before Turner found Oquendo in the middle of the field 25 yards from the endzone.  The senior wide receiver, who Franklin praised as “Mr. Dependable,” broke two tackles and outraced a third defender to the corner of the end zone, his first touchdown of the season.

Even after the convincing 26-0 win, Friedgen focused on Maryland’s remaining games.  “I want to win this division and conference…I want to get to the championship game” in Tampa, said the coach.  

Next up is North Carolina State (2-4, 0-3), a team Maryland beat 37-0 in the last game of last season, a meeting of 5-6 teams in which the winner would become bowl eligible and the loser would go into an early off season.  “They’ll have a revenge factor,” predicted Friedgen of the Wolfpack.  “They haven’t won a game in the ACC yet, but to me, they should have won two.”

Heyward-Bey and Friedgen both joked that the key to beating North Carolina State is to pretend they are a ranked team, but it likely won’t be that easy next weekend.  Maryland is one of three teams sitting atop the ACC Atlantic Division with a 2-1 conference record, while a well-rested N.C. State, idle this weekend, will certainly be looking to play the spoiler in the Terps’ Homecoming game.

Kick-off for Maryland against North Carolina State is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium.

Notes:

-Friedgen did have some words of criticism for his team captains on the opening coin toss: “That was the second time we’ve gone out for a coin toss and they’ve done exactly what I didn’t want them to do,” choosing to receive instead of kick.  Franklin, on the other hand, was happy his offense got the ball first.  “I was like, ‘Hell yeah!’, let’s get the ball!”, said the offensive coordinator on the opportunity to score first.

-Cornerback Kevin Barnes left the game in the second half with an injured shoulder.  The injury appears to not be serious but Barnes will have an MRI on Monday.  Barnes was coming off a concussion two weeks ago against Virginia.

-Saturday’s win was the first time Maryland had shut out a ranked team since September 24, 1955, when then No. 5 Maryland beat No. 1 UCLA 7-0 at Byrd Stadium.

- Though Heyward-Bey praised the fans, Friedgen complained of the announced crowd of 46,257, more than 5,000 short of full capacity, saying “We’ve got to get this place hopping…there’s got to be a home field advantage for us.”