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Friedgen wants Terps to watch credits roll

September 14, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. ? It was the University of Maryland's version of the infamous "Heidi" game.

In NFL circles, that's the running television joke referring to when a network cut away from a game before it was over to show the movie "Heidi." It caused many red-faced moments, both in embarrassment and anger, ever since.

For the Terrapins, that same feeling came last weekend against Clemson. The clock said there was seven minutes remaining in the game and Maryland stopped playing.

End result? A 24-14 lead turned into a 28-24 loss. The Terps' faces were as red as their team colors, partially in embarrassment, partially with anger because of a game that got away.

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With West Virginia coming to visit Byrd Stadium on Saturday, Maryland can't hide after Heidi. All the Terps can do is synchronize their watches a little better.

"On Saturday we played a very good team and had them where we wanted them," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "But we only played them for 53 minutes. We have to do it for 60. We have to be able to finish."

Clemson's quickness took over in the final 10 minutes of the game as the No. 20 Tigers scored twice in the last seven minutes.

In the process, Maryland's offense failed down the stretch to get drive-prolonging first downs because of untimely penalties and Clemson's defensive pressure. Meanwhile, the Maryland defense became a step slow.

"It wasn't that we couldn't play with them," Friedgen said. "They ran kind of a gadget play (on Curtis Beham's 51-yard touchdown reception to bring Clemson within three points). Chris Varner had pretty good coverage, but the guy was a little faster. He just beat him."

The beat went on and cost the Terps the game. And in some circles, that didn't sit too well.

"The way it came to an end ..." defensive back Josh Wilson said. "Last year, we were praying for the situation to be up 10 points at the end of the game. Clemson got us at the end of the game last year and then they did it again this year. We need to finish the game. We can't be playing 53 minutes."

With a different cast of characters, the same things happened to Maryland last season when they faced then-No. 6 WVU and lost 19-16 in overtime. The Terps took a 13-10 lead with 9:23 remaining in regulation, but allowed WVU to score a tying field goal three minutes later.

Maryland's Nick Novak and WVU's Brad Cooper each missed go-ahead kicks late in the game. The Terps were flagged for a penalty on Cooper's try, giving the Mountaineers another chance, but linebacker William Kershaw blocked the second try.

In overtime, WVU held the Terps to a field goal and scored on a 7-yard TD pass to Chris Henry to win the game.

"Personally, I get up for every game," Wilson said. "But after last year, this one is big. (Losing) really hurt me last year."

Maryland's inability to close out games in the end has become a problem.

"We had that game in our hands," Maryland tight end Vernon Davis said. "We had the lead and we got relaxed."

Friedgen is taking more of a patient approach with the Terps this season. With a number of first-year players logging time, each game is a learning experience as well as a major game in Maryland's hopes of playing for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

"I like this team," Friedgen said. "They are doing some little things that I do appreciate. We are going to be very good ... I just don't know when."

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