Terps Fall to Miami, Suffer 2nd ACC Loss

True freshman QB leads Canes to game-winning drive in fourth quarter

Despite being outgained by 250 yards, the Terrapins showed moxie as they went toe-for-toe with Miami, who was rallying behind their true freshman quarterback after a depleting defeat the week previous.

With 37 ticks on the clock left, Stephen Morris completed a 35-yard pass into the hands of Leonard Hankerson in the end-zone to take a 26-20 lead. The Maryland secondary, which had been so stellar in their previous two wins, gave up another game-changing play to the Hurricanes on Saturday, this one costing them their seventh win on the season.

Morris’ pass came on a third-and-11, essentially a desperation shot for the Miami offense to try and force a pass interference penalty or take advantage of the Terps’ coverage. It was Miami’s ninth third-down conversion on the afternoon.

Although it came down to a fourth quarterback comeback, the Hurricanes offense had been dominating throughout the game. Morris completed 60 percent of his passes for 286 yards with Travis Benjamin hauling in five for 127.

The loss of starting running back Damien Berry went unnoticed; a committee of four picked up the slack for their injured teammate, totaling 249 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Lamar Miller led the team with a game-high 127 yards.

The Terrapins had come off back-to-back wins allowing their opponents to rush just 93 total yards combined, including holding the Demon Deacons to negative figures last week. The team allowed an average of just 187 yards per game through the air in their two wins, and ranked eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

However, it was the Maryland defense thriving off turnovers once again that kept the Terps alive and kicking. Senior leader and do-it-all linebacker Alex Wujciak picked off Morris twice, returning one interception 60 yards for the team’s second touchdown in the second quarter.

But it was then when the offensive struggles began for redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien and his team. In just over 22 minutes with the ball, the quarterback could complete just nine of his passes for 134 yards, including one touchdown to wide receiver Kevin Dorsey and an interception. It was just O’Brien’s fourth interception of the season, and the first since he was on the road facing off against Clemson.

The Miami defense exercised their press-man coverage seamlessly, forcing their ACC-leading 16th interception of the season against one of the best ball-security offenses in the country. Only three other teams in college football have turned the ball over less than the Terrapins’ seven.

Finally, Maryland reverted to their early season third-down woes, converting one quarter of their attempts, mainly due to their inability to establish the short passing game which had been so suitable to O’Brien’s style of play.

In the team’s six victories, four of which came at Byrd Stadium, the Terps successfully convert over 38 percent of their third-downs. Conversely, in their three losses, they have a rate of just 23 percent.

Yesterday’s loss was the third of the season for the Terps, falling to 6-3 on the season and a game back of Florida State in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Hurricanes, however, moved to 6-3, good for second place in the ACC Coastal Division.

Maryland’s next opponent will be a Virginia team who fell a touchdown shy to Duke in a high-scoring 55-48 tilt. The Cavs’ 27th-best have scored a combined 72 points in their last two games, including an upset win versus these Miami Hurricanes. The game is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff in Charlottesville, Va.

News and Notes:

Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen elected not to use placekicker Nick Ferrara in the game. Travis Baltz once again started in place of Ferrara, nailing down two field goals (27, 23).

Davin Meggett led the Terps in rushing with nine carries for 70 yards, good for a 7.8 yard per carry average.

Kevin Dorsey led the Terps in receiving yardage with three receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. He was one of six Terps receivers to catch a pass in the game.

The “Jamarr Robinson” package was used often against the Canes. Robinson completed both of his two passes for 24 yards.

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