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Terps' moment is now

October 18, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland football team is living for the moment after its 28-26 come-from-behind victory over Virginia on Saturday.

"What we did last week was we had moments that if we didn't win them, we weren't going to win the game," Friedgen said Tuesday at his weekly media conference. "That's the thing I have been looking for because we haven't been winning those moments."

Those moments aren't always game-turning plays, but they could eventually turn into them. Maryland players need to understand there is something in every play that could make the difference between winning and losing, especially now as the clock continues to run on their season.

The Terrapins are halfway through the season with a 4-2 record, two games short of becoming bowl eligible. They are 0-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is far from dead considering how unpredictable the league is this season. Maryland hosts North Carolina State, which like Maryland, is one of the five teams with one loss in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

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"I hope what happens is it carries on over to other situations," Friedgen said. "Winning (the Virginia game) has given us something to draw on for other situations. These kids have worked hard, but we have some limitations. We can overcome them if we work together as a team."

Friedgen pointed to four instances when the Terps did something to make a difference that allowed them to come back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to get the win Saturday.

Marcus Hamilton intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it 58 yards to give Virginia the ball at Maryland's 29. The Terps' defense allowed only 20 yards of progress and forced the Cavaliers to settle for a field goal and a 10-0 lead instead of a 14-0 lead.

A 51-yard pass play which moved Virginia to the Maryland 4 with about a minute to play in the half. Again, the Terps' defense held, forcing another field goal, giving the Cavs a 20-0 lead at the half, which could have easily been 24- or 28-0.

Maryland's offense came alive in the second half. One of the defining plays came in the fourth quarter when quarterback Sam Hollenbach hit tight end Jason Goode on a 13-yard pass while being hit. Two plays later, Keon Lattimore ran 56 yards for a touchdown to move Maryland into a 21-20 lead.

The Terps secured the win by running out the final 2:37 of the game after Virginia had scored but trailed by two after missing the conversion. Maryland was able to hold on to the ball and didn't allow Virginia a chance to make a game-winning field goal attempt.

The sequence was vastly different than Sept. 14, when Maryland allowed West Virginia to score 28 first-quarter points. Back then, the Terps were forced to play as hard as they could to save face.

This time, Maryland was only 20 points down and found a way to save a victory.

"It was a good win ... a hard-fought win," Friedgen said. "Did we play our best? Probably not. But it's good to know we do it (win) when we don't."

That leads Maryland to N.C. State, a team which has played the Terps to close decisions each of the five games in Friedgen's tenure. This is not only a major stepping stone for Maryland's postseason hopes. It's another moment of truth for the Terps.

"The one thing we can't do is fall back," Friedgen said. "We can't relax. We can't just say, 'Oh, we won a big game, that's great.' For me this is the beginning not the end. We have to build on this.

"I still think we can play better. I think we are still a work in progress. I'm hoping that this win (against Virginia) will help us see that and get better with that."

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