Despite mounting a late rally in the fourth quarter, NC State could not overcome Maryland, falling 38-31 to the Terps to close out the 2010 regular season and end hopes of playing for an ACC Championship next week in Charlotte. After building a 14-0 lead of its own in the first quarter, NC State (8-4, 5-3) was outscored 38-17 over the final three periods.
The Wolfpack loss sends Florida State to the ACC Championship to face Virginia Tech as the representative of the Atlantic Division and leaves NC State waiting to hear where it will go bowling.
Although the Wolfpack held Maryland to -9 yards rushing, NC State had no answer for Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien and wide receiver Torrey Smith, both of whom had career days. O'Brien finished 33 of 47 for 417 yards and four touchdowns -- all to Smith. The All-ACC receiver finished with 224 receiving yards on 14 catches, including a 71-yard catch that put Maryland up 38-17 with 6:26 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Russell Wilson completed 31 of his 60 attempts for 311 yards and two touchdowns, but numerous drops and missed opportunities, especially in the red zone, proved to be the difference for the Wolfpack offense.
The Wolfpack pulled to within seven at 38-31 with 1:16 remaining, but an attempt to recover a second onside kick failed and Maryland was able to pick up a first down and run out the clock.
While the outcome proved to be far from what NC State had hoped for, the start looked promising. NC State would come out of the gates fast against Maryland, scoring on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter at Byrd Stadium.
After forcing Maryland to punt on its first possession, NC State wasted little time proving that it would not be victim of another slow start. The Wolfpack drove 70 yards in nine plays and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Russell Wilson scored from one yard out.
Maryland would respond with a nine play drive of its own, but NC State's defense stiffened and stopped the Terps on a fourth and five from the Wolfpack 34-yard line. Just two minutes later, the Wolfpack would score again, this time on a 15 yard pass from Russell Wilson to Owen Spencer.
By quarter's end, NC State would tally 136 yards on just 16 offensive plays. Wilson finished the first quarter 9 of 11 passing for 119 yards with one touchdown through the air and one one the ground.
While much went right for NC State in the first quarter, very little did in the second. D.J. Adams pulled the Terps to within a touchdown early in the second period when he scored from two yards out to cap a 78-yard drive.
After giving Maryland a short field on several occasions in the second quarter, NC State found itself with better field position when Travis Baltz missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. On the next play, however, a tipped Wilson pass intended for T.J. Graham found the arms of Maryland safety Eric Franklin, who returned the ball to the NC State 3-yard line. Three plays later, Maryland would tie the game at 14 with 2:25 left in the half.
The tough breaks continued for NC State with under a minute in the second quarter when a 38-yard Josh Czajkowski field attempt was blocked. A return of 35 yards would again give Maryland a short field and lead to a 52-yard field goal from Travis Baltz to put Maryland up 17-14 at the half.
After building its lead to 24-17 at the end of the third quarter, Maryland exploded in the fourth, scoring on drives of 52 and 71 yards to go up 38-17 with 6:36 left in the game. The 71-yard strike from O'Brien to Smith following an NC State turnover on downs proved to be the difference, putting Maryland up 21.
NC State would make it interesting, but the late rally fell short when Maryland recovered Czajkowski's second onside kick.