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Quick strikes help go long way to spare Terps

November 13, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Playing a 60-minute game is the gold standard for football teams.

That has been the case for the University of Maryland this season. The goal was to play on every down and every snap like it was the first.

The No. 21 Terrapins went down to the last second again on Saturday, this time for a very important 14-13 win over Miami. It has been their trademark, considering they have won their last five games by a total of 13 points.

But when it came to punching in for this 60 minutes of work, Maryland's defense used a time clock while the offense employed an egg timer.

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The majority of Maryland's offense was amassed in two plays - long touchdown passes from Sam Hollenbach to Darrius Heyward-Bey - in the first 12 minutes and the Terps' first seven plays. They accounted for all of Maryland's points, which the defense protected.

"Our kids played hard, but I think they weren't as emotionally high as we have been," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We were able to make two big plays and that was enough to win the football game. It was kind of an old-fashioned football game, hard-nosed and hard-fought."

It was an old-fashioned game won in a new fashion by Maryland. It took a couple of Terrapins firsts to make the difference.

Deep passes have been a rarity for the Terps. They had been relying on ball-control methods to move the ball. Even the two touchdown passes were mid-range throws that Heyward-Bey caught and ran the majority of the way for the scores.

"It made me feel like I was back in high school, getting out and running the 100-meter dash," the receiver said. "It took me back to my track days."

The Terps' passing remedy came in the form of Miami's top-rated run defense.

"From the beginning of the game, they were out to stop the run," Hollenbach said.

Maryland took a 7-0 lead on its second play of the game. Hollenbach took the next step in his development as a quarterback when he connected with Heyward-Bey on a 30-yard up pattern that turned into a 65-yard touchdown. At the time, it was Maryland's longest play of the season.

"On the first play, we came up and they showed blitz," Friedgen said. "Sam did something that he didn't do all last year - he checked off the play at the line of scrimmage."

Maryland came into the game looking to establish the running game, its bread and butter for most of the season. But Miami's defense brought most of its defense up to within three yards of the line of scrimmage to challenge and force Hollenbach to make his snap judgment.

"(Changing plays) was something I doubted last year," Hollenbach said. "But they put us in a good situation with the safety moving down in the box. They had eight in the box. (The safety) was the main read."

The pass, itself, became the most critical stage of the play because Maryland has shown an inability to throw downfield.

"On the first touchdown, we checked out of a play and he just put it up and I made the play," Heyward-Bey said.

Maryland only had the ball for six plays in the first quarter as Miami played a time-consuming style. On their first play in the second quarter, the Terps struck again.

Maryland was pinned at the 4 after a punt. Hollenbach came out and lofted a pass to the 40 that Heyward-Bey ran under again for the catch, and he won the ensuing foot race to the end zone for a 96-yard score - the longest TD pass ever for the Terps.

"It was a play we worked on all week," said Heyward-Bey, who caught five passes for a career-high 175 yards. "I didn't run the best route but he was able to throw it up and I was able to run under it."

For all intents and purposes, that was the extent of Maryland's offense for the game. Miami made adjustments to shut down the Terps, allowing just six first downs and 258 yards of offense.

The two touchdowns accounted for 161 yards, which was 62.4 percent of Maryland's total offense and 79.7 percent of its 202 passing yards.

In the end, it took two big defensive plays - a Trey Covington interception and a fumbled punt - in the final 3:08 to seal the victory.

"If we can get that (long pass) element in the game all the time, they won't be able to come up and press our running game," Friedgen said. "The defense gave up some yards but made the key plays when needed. It was a test to our players. They had to play hard on every down. They don't always have the best stats and it isn't always pretty, but you can't argue with the effort."

On a day that Maryland was totally dominated, it was two plays lasting about 20 seconds that made the difference in a 60-minute game.

"The other team may have 1,000 yards," Heyward-Bey said. "At the end of the day, the score is the only thing that counts."

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