Farewell Seniors, Good Riddance Season: Terps Fall to BC
WR Colin Lemont Jr. of the Eagles hauls in a long pass during Boston College's 19-17 win over Maryland at the Capital One Field at the Byrd Stadium in College Park, MD on November 28, 2009. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, M.D.—With the scrutiny of his tenure surrounding him, and questions of his job security even a raised subject on the desk of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, an emotional Ralph Friedgen led his team on the field Saturday against Boston College (8-4) for the final game for 14 Terrapins seniors—of the season and quite possibly, the final game for himself as Maryland head coach.
With the game in the balance, Maryland trailing BC 10-16 deep in its own territory and with his future at Maryland at least loosely wrapped around the development of freshman quarterback Jamarr Robinson, as his recruits have drawn much criticism over the years, Coach Friedgen decided to go with the freshman back at quarterback.

Robinson’s decision making was on point during the drive but his accuracy was not quite there as he missed a wide-open receiver on first down and second down. However, on third down Robinson was able to complete a nine-yard pass that set Maryland up with a chance for a first down on fourth and one. But just like on third down, BC was able to stop Maryland one yard short of a first down as Coach Friedgen gambled on the quarterback sneak.

And just like the season, critics were all ready to point their collective index fingers at Friedgen as BC went up by nine on a field goal after the turnover on downs deep in Maryland territory.

But Coach Friedgen, in as stubborn a move as any, left Robinson in on Maryland’s ensuing possession. Robinson started off shaky but was able to find Torrey Smith for a 28-yard completion in the end zone. But it was too little, too late as Maryland fell to Boston College 19-17, finalizing the season record at 2-10.

Not knowing his fate after the game, Friedgen addressed his team, “I just told them how proud I was of them and I told them how I expect to be back and if not, tell them how much I love them and appreciated their efforts this whole year.”

Maryland came out guns blazing with some trickery on the first play of the game having running back Da’Rel Scott attempt a pass that fell incomplete, intended for wide receiver Torrey Smith, but drew a pass interference penalty on BC. After the play senior quarterback Chris Turner, in his return from injury was able to complete his first three pass attempts as the offense began rolling but soon slowed down.

Maryland played two quarterbacks in the game, Robinson and Turner. Both of whom Coach Friedgen said were only about 70%. Robinson, he mentioned, was probably worse off than Turner as he was dealing with turf toe and a shoulder injury that forced Friedgen to do walk-throughs all week in practice because Robinson could not go full speed.

Maryland was able to jump out to an early 3-0 lead on BC on the strength of a Nick Ferrara’s 32-yard field goal, but BC was able to jump right back with a touchdown on a drag route by sophomore wide receiver Colin Larmond Jr., who turned a short first down try into a long 66 yard score to put BC on top 7-3.

On BC’s next possession, and backed up into questionable field position, the Maryland defense bent, allowing BC to drive to the goal line, but did not break as they were able to hold BC out of the end zone on a third and goal run attempt.

Because of the effort, the first quarter ended on a positive note for the defense as Maryland was down only 10-3 instead of 14-3.

Coach Ralph Friedgen looks up at the scoreboard as he heads to the locker room down 16-10 at halftime at the Capital One Field at the Byrd Stadium in College Park, MD on November 28, 2009. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
The stop seemed to give life to the offense as freshman quarterback Jamarr Robinson was placed in the game in the second quarter, completing his first four passes and marching his team, 69 yards down the field. The drive was capped off, fittingly by Scott (who returned last game against FSU after breaking his wrist in week five against Clemson) on a six-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 10-10.

But Maryland was loosing an early battle within the game: field position. Two of Maryland’s Nick Ferrara’s early punts netted 21 and 36 yards and placed BC just outside Maryland territory even without any type of a return; one was simply shanked and the other seemed to be caught up by the wind and rolled to the BC 46 yard line. Both punts led to BC scores: their first touchdown, and a field goal.

This trend continued to put the Maryland defenders’ backs against the goal line as Ferrara kicked a 27-yarder that gave BC the ball at their own 43-yard-line with 1:56 to play in the first half. BC was then able to go into halftime with a 16-10 lead as senior kicker Steve Aponavicius was able to hit a field goal as time wound down to zero.

BC was able to commence the third quarter on an 11-play-drive down to the Maryland four-yard-line featuring crisp passing from freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie. Shinskie was able to lead his team 43 yards, with BC running 6:54 off the clock before the Maryland defense began to cement; as it seemed to always do, in the red zone throughout the game.

Maryland’s Deege Galt was able to sack Shinskie at the Maryland 14 for an eight-yard loss on a third and goal play, forcing Aponavicius to attempt a 31-yard field goal, which he missed wide right.

The Maryland offense sputtered as Turner resumed command and the elasticity of the Maryland defense was enough to make Terps fans’ heart rates race but their stopping power was able to keep the fans stable long enough to cheer and clamor with every red zone stand.

Maryland’s defense was able to keep the game within reach, as they did not allow BC to score for the remainder of the game. BC, however, was able to add another field goal late to make the score 19-10 with just under four minutes to play.

On Maryland’s last gasp and backed up deep in its own territory, Coach Friedgen went for a quarterback sneak on fourth and one.

“If I had to do it over again, I probably would have punted the ball. We were in a hurry up offense and James (Franklin) called the quarterback sneak, and I could have cancelled it, but I thought we might catch them. If it was any further, I probably would have punted the ball and tried to play defense and get the ball back. I was kind of all in at that point.”

Coach Friedgen has been “all in” from the beginning of his tenure at Maryland. But now questions of whether his “all” is enough have obviously taken a toll on, if nothing else, his demeanor.

Red-faced and his voice trembling at times, Friedgen addressed the media, his family sitting less than ten feet away, as a reflective coach with an uncertain future.

“They never quit on me, why would I want to quit on them” said Friedgen, “I want to be there when they’re good so we can think about these times and laugh at them.”