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Terps get the six, seek more

October 30, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Perfection is like Nirvana.

It's out there somewhere, but it's always that goal that's just out of reach.

University of Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen strives for perfection, but on Saturday, pretty good was good enough.

The Terrapins reached down and assembled a performance to knock off Florida State 27-24 at Byrd Stadium in a game which could well become the signature for the season. It wasn't spectacular, but it was efficient, with enough big plays to punctuate the victory.

"What a win I don't know where to start," Friedgen said. "We faced some adversity tonight in so many different areas. So many guys stepped up. It's a big win for our team and for our program, but we've still got such a long way to go."

Despite many injuries and a season that falls under expectations, Florida State represented a huge hurdle for the Terps.

The Seminoles limped into the game, scratching starting quarterback Drew Weatherford from the lineup at game time because of tendinitis in his left ankle. That turned the ball over the Xavier Lee, who made his first collegiate start.

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Still, Maryland broke through the Florida State mystique and beat the Seminoles for only the second time in 17 tries, with both wins coming in the last three years at Byrd Stadium.

And with the victory, Maryland notched its sixth victory and became bowl eligible for the first time since 2003.

"We've been trying to get to six for so long," said Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson. "We're on a roll, but we still have a lot of games ahead of us and we've still got a lot of thing still to get better.

"We weren't great today. We were good and we were able to put a 'W' up against a very good team."

The Terps had at least one star "step up" in each aspect of their game to give them the spark they needed to knock off Florida State.

· Offense - It all started for the Terps with quarterback Sam Hollenbach.

The senior did what Friedgen asks - make good decisions, few mistakes and don't turn over the ball - to lead the Terps to the win.

"Sam played really well," Friedgen said. "He managed the game really well and made plays when he had to. There were a couple of situations where he probably could have fumbled, but he didn't. I really see him getting better and better right now."

For the second straight game, Maryland made Hollenbach active in the pocket with rollouts and planned runs. He peppered the Seminoles with short passes to get first downs and sustain drives while keeping Florida State's defense on its heels.

Hollenbach was 12 of 20 for 131 yards, mostly on screen and swing passes with a couple of intermediate throws mixed in.

Hollenbach is a combined 19 of 29 in the last two games - home victories over North Carolina State and Florida State - for 246 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions or fumbles.

Darrius Heyward-Bey helped Hollenbach add diversity to the Maryland offense with his three catches, but two went for touchdowns - the first scores of his career.

"Darrius Heyward-Bey made some big plays," Friedgen said.

The first came on a 5-yard toss, but the second was a nifty 15-yard curl pattern on which Heyward-Bey made a quick spin to the left sideline for a 30-yard scoring play. It gave the Terps the first score of the second half and a 27-14 lead.

· Special teams - Receiver Danny Oquendo returned three punts for 85 yards, including returns for 34 and 45 yards to set the Terps up with drives starting in Florida State territory. The 35-yard return put Maryland on the 'Noles 23 and led to Heyward-Bey's first touchdown grab.

· Defense - Maybe the biggest contributions came from sophomore defensive end Jeremy Navarre.

Navarre finished with just five tackles, but 2 1/2 went for losses, and that was only the start of it.

He forced a Florida State fumble which led to Maryland's first touchdown.

He stuffed FSU running back Joe Surratt for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 at the 50, setting up the Terps' third touchdown drive.

He sacked Lee for an 8-yard loss in the final minute when FSU was driving for a winning score. It resulted in a longer field goal try of 46 yards by Seminoles kicker Gary Cismesia with 42 seconds left that Navarre blocked to ice the victory.

Still, it wasn't perfection, but it allowed the Terps to keep trying after a huge victory.

"We've just got to continue to improve," Friedgen said. "We're not there yet. We're bowl eligible, but our goals are bigger than six wins. That sixth win is a big monkey off your back, but it doesn't get any easier from here."

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