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Maryland 30 tries to go out in style

November 20, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Edwin Williams is one of the Maryland 30.

There is nothing sinister about this group. They are the 30 seniors who will be playing their last home game as Terrapins on Satuday night at Byrd Stadium. It's big, but only a secondary backdrop.

That's because No. 22 Maryland will be playing for a chance to sew up the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division title when it hosts Florida State on Saturday night.

"It will be tremendous to know that the last game we played at home left a great mark," said Williams, Maryland's center who was named ACC offensive lineman of the week. "We just have to come out and play to the best of our ability."

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For Williams, the 29 other seniors and the rest of the Terps, this is a game that is as big as it comes. After battling through an up-and-down year, Maryland will honor the seniors as it plays for the possible division title and the coveted berth in the ACC Championship Game, an improved ranking and an undefeated, 7-0 home record.

"That's the motivation right there," said senior defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre. "Go out with a bang and on top."

While downplaying the emotions surrounding the Senior Day aspects, Saturday's game with Florida State is laced with the opportunity of redemption for the Maryland 30. It is a second chance to get something they allowed to slip away the first time.

"It's big for the seniors here," Navarre said. "We were here two years ago and we lost. We experienced that and hope it gets to help us now."

Maryland was in a similar situation in 2006 when it hosted Wake Forest in the final weekend for a head-to-head, winner-take-all battle for the Atlantic Division title. The Demon Deacons were the surprise winners and went on the win the ACC title game and earn the berth to the Orange Bowl.

"A couple of years ago we had the same opportunity against Wake Forest," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. "The week before, we lost to Boston College and as much as I talked to the team and told them we still had a chance, I think they felt they were out of it. ... We played OK offensively but didn't play to our potential defensively and we lost the game.

"With this one, I think we all know what is at stake. I am just talking to our kids about playing good and I'm not making a big deal out of it because I think they already know the deal."

The deal is to hook all the senior memories on what happens against Florida State. The seniors know first hand that losses in a game with these concequences at stake harbor lasting memories.

"All the seniors met and we brought up what happened two years ago and the way we choked and lost," Navarre said. "Everyone knows how it is. We are all experienced and knows what needs to be done."

But still, in the back of the head, is the fact that it will be the last time the Maryland 30 will play on campus. That kind of an event finds a way to leave an impression.

"I'm trying not to think about it," Williams said. "It will be emotional because it will be our last game here. We have been here so long. I want to get back into game mode and do things like I do every week. It's exciting, but we have to approach everything the same way. That's what it's all about in being an offense ... being consistent."

Saturday's game gives the Maryland 30 the chance to put a storybook ending on their careers. "I am sure it is going to be a very emotional situation for these kids who are going to play their last game in Byrd Stadium," Friedgen said. "They will want to win this game very badly. It is where we want to be. It's because we've worked hard for the whole year to be here. Now we just have to get it done."

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