52-31: FSU rolls late
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Noles burst Maryland's bubble in the 4th quarter
Ralph Friegen's valiant
attempt to get undefeated Maryland their first victory over ACC bully Florida State fell short Saturday afternoon before 82,565 in Doak Campbell Stadium. Maryland jumped out to an early lead and were able to hang with the reigning ACC champs through three quarters, but the Seminoles proved to be too much for the upstart Terrapins. Bobby Bowden surpassed Pop Warner on the all-time win list and remained undefeated in the conference at home with the 52-31 victory.
Unlike the two earlier losses when FSU turned it over a combined 11 times, the Tribe turned the tables on their opponents forcing two fumbles and two interceptions from a Maryland team that ranked No. 2 nationally in turnover margin.
"Today was another indication that you can't win when you turn it over," FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. "Maryland turned it over and we did too, but not as much. We did turn it over in our two losses. There is no telling what would have happened if they hadn't turned it over. I was very impressed with Maryland. We were able to make the big play."
After both teams punted twice, Maryland went up 7-0 after fullback James Lynch ran 65 yards for a touchdown. Middle linebacker Bradley Jennings, the Seminoles' premier run stopper, was hurt on the previous play and the Terps took advantage of his absence finding a huge hole in the middle of the defense.
Late in the first quarter quarterback Chris Rix was hammered by Maryland middle linebacker E.J. Henderson that forced him to sit out the next series. With Rix out for a short time, true freshman Adrian McPherson came in for the next series but couldn't move the troops.
Maryland would get great field position at the FSU 41-yard line after Chance Gwaltney overthrew a pass attempt on a fake punt try. A critical personal foul call on Darnell Dockett gave the Terps new life after they were pushed back by several penalties. A few plays later running back Marc Riley scored on a one-yard touchdown run that put Maryland up by a score of 14-0.
With Seminole nation getting restless, Rix returned to the game a new man sparking the Seminole offense to 52 points over the next three quarters.
"The hit (by Henderson) definitely settled me down and made me calm and I'd say a little more focused," Rix said. "Sometimes I get distracted just getting caught up in the excitement of the game so that definitely settled me down and maybe knocked some sense into me."
Talman Gardner had his best game as a Seminole with three TDs
The redshirt freshman signal caller started the offense by hitting Javon Walker and Talman Gardner on consecutive plays, establishing position inside the Maryland 20-line. Rix would then find Gardner on a post pattern for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
On Maryland's next possession, the defense got in the act when linebacker Michael Boulware intercepted a Shaun Hill pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Boulware's second touchdown of the season tied the score 14-14.
On FSU's next possession Rix found freshman Craphonso Thorpe open in the middle of the field and Thorpe took the pass 51-yards again putting the ball inside the Maryland 20-yard line. Gardner then caught his second touchdown pass of the day on a nine-yard pass from Rix. FSU led 21-14.
Once again Darnell Dockett made a big mental mistake when he ran into the Terrapin kicker Nick Novak on a long field goal try that fell short at the end of the half. With a second try and a shorter kick Novak took full advantage and nailed a 51-yarder to cut the score 21-17 at the half.
Maryland marched down the field on the opening drive of the half. An eight-yard Bruce Perry touchdown run was set up by a one-handed grab by Jafar Williams on a key third down conversion. With the score the Terps took the 24-21 lead, their last of the game.
FSU struck back quickly with a 56-yard completion from Rix to Gardner that set up a game tying 31-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia.
With the game tied, Maryland kick returner Jamal Chance made a key mistake when he fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by special teams standout Jared Hetzel. Tailback Greg Jones would capitalize four plays later with a five-yard touchdown plunge to give the Tribe the 31-24 advantage.
Just like a lingering cold, Maryland refused to go away and quarterback Shaun Hill orchestrated a 12 play, 82-yard drive to tie the score at 31. But the cure would come in the final quarter.
When the fourth quarter kicked in it was all Florida State. The Noles took a lead that would not be relinquished when Rix found Gardner for his third touchdown of the day, this time on a 28-yard strike on a fade route down the right side. That made the score 38-31. Gardner finished the day with 6 receptions for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns.
After another Maryland turnover, Rix put the game away when he hooked up with senior Javon Walker on a 22-yard strike on a fade pattern in the back of the endzone.
For good measure FSU added on a final scoring drive consisting of two long passes from Rix to Atrews Bell. The second was a 31-yard touchdown pass, which was also Bell's first touchdown of the season. Final score: FSU 52, Maryland 31.
Chris Rix had his best performance as a Seminole, completing 15 of 24 passes for 350 yards and 5 touchdown passes.
"Bottom line everyone held the rope tonight on defense, special teams and offense," Rix said. "Everyone knew they had to do their job in order for us to beat this very good Maryland team. So whether we were up or whether we were down I think the defense did a good job, the offense was unbelievable with the time I had and the way they opened up holes for our backs and the special teams forcing turnovers."
Next up is a road game at Clemson next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by ABC.
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