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Sam Reich? Franklore is eerie for Hollenbach

November 10, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - There was a time for Sam Hollenbach that a legend was nothing more than a good bedtime story.

But now, as the University of Maryland's senior quarterback, there's a legend that is becoming ironic and eerie at the same time.

In some circles, this story would be called folklore. Here, at College Park, it is a game which will be remembered as Franklore.

It was 22 years ago today that Frank Reich - one of Hollenbach's predecessors behind center for Terrapins football - completed one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.

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Reich came off the bench in the second half of Maryland's game at Miami on Nov. 10, 1984 and led the Terps from a 31-0 halftime deficit to an improbable 42-40 victory. It became a game for the ages and, at the time, was the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I football history.

Hollenbach has heard about it, especially this week as No. 23 Maryland prepares to host Miami on Saturday in a critical game in the Terps' quest for another improbable feat - coming from nowhere to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division title. But that is the extent of his knowledge.

"I know he came into the game and was relentless with it," Hollenbach said. "(Reich) made the plays that had to be made. He had the opportunity to get it done and he got it done."

It's pretty much the same scenario that Hollenbach finds himself living these days. He needs to be relentless, make the plays that are needed and use his opportunity to get it done for the Terps.

And maybe it's meant to be for Hollenbach, because here's where the eerie part begins. Two weeks ago, Reich - now a minister and motivational speaker living in the Charlotte, N.C., area - returned to Byrd Stadium to be an honorary captain for Maryland's game with Florida State.

"I don't know much about him," Hollenbach said. "He came to do our devotion before the Florida State game. I met him and we talked a few times and I have gotten a couple of e-mails, but that's about it. It's funny ... when people saw us together; apparently I look a lot like him. Everybody was calling me Sam Reich."

Strange? Consider this:

· Reich and Hollenbach are each from Pennsylvania. Reich played for Cedar Crest in Lebanon, Pa., while Hollenbach is from Sellersville, Pa., and starred 20 years later at Pennridge High. Their two hometowns are only 78 miles apart.

· Both players were coached by their fathers in high school.

· Both are 6-foot-4. Reich played at 210 pounds while Hollenbach weighs 214.

· Each player wore/wears No. 14 on his Terps jersey.

· When Reich rescued the Terps against Miami, Hollenbach was 1 year, 1 month and 1 day old.

It all makes for great foreshadowing for Hollenbach, who has a way to go to be remembered in the same manner as Reich. But with Maryland's first game against Miami in two decades as the start of a critical three-game stretch to complete the Terps' regular season, he has a starting point.

Hollenbach has led the Terps on a four-game winning streak, in mini-Reich fashion, if you will.

He started the streak with a second-half comeback against Virginia - even though it was only a 20-point deficit - to get Maryland a 28-26 victory.

He was nearly flawless in leading Maryland to close victories over North Carolina State and Florida State the next two weeks.

And then last Saturday, Hollenbach drove the Terps to a winning field goal in the final 2:26 in a 13-12 win over Clemson.

"You don't go out there and play the game not to have fun," Hollenbach said. "On Saturday, it was the last two minutes in a hostile environment. I was having fun. We do it all the time in practice. Only this time, we won a game."

It may have not been legendary, but it got high marks from Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

"Each and every week, I think Sam is tremendously poised," Friedgen said. "Things don't seem to affect him. He did a fantastic job and threw the ball well."

Like Reich, Hollenbach came through in the clutch for the Terps, just in a little less dramatic fashion.

But it is a starting point.

"I'm glad we are starting to play better football," he said. "If we were playing like we were earlier in the year, I don't know if we would be in the same spot. It takes experience ... game experience. I don't think we are anything special. We can still easily go 7-6. We still have a lot of work to do."

If all goes well, Hollenbach's legend is yet to be written.

"I'm not getting cocky after the (Clemson) game. We still have the three biggest games in my career ... in a lot of careers ... yet to play," he said. "With three weeks left, we are where we want to be. It doesn't come around like that often. It takes an incredible amount of work for a season like this.

"Sometime in January, hopefully we'll be where we want to be. That's all I'm focused on right now."

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