- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2008

Da’Rel Scott seemed to know as he clutched his left shoulder late in the fourth quarter Saturday that he was finished for the day.

As the demonstrative Maryland tailback trudged off the field after logging the last of his 163 yards, he encountered backup Davin Meggett approaching the huddle.

“[He said] ‘Keep it up, no drop-off, let’s finish this,’” Meggett said.

Meggett completed what Scott and the Terrapins started, hauling in a crucial third-down pass to set up Obi Egekeze’s game-winning 20-yard field goal and lift Maryland to a 27-24 defeat of pesky N.C. State.

The victory enabled Maryland (6-2, 3-1 ACC) to remain atop the Atlantic Division with Florida State on a day fellow leaders Boston College and Wake Forest stumbled on the road.

And it came in a manner perfectly befitting the unpredictable Terps, who allowed the Wolfpack (2-6, 0-4) to control possession for 36 minutes but still scratched out a tight victory in less-than-favorable conditions before an announced crowd of 45,018 featuring large swaths of the upper deck sitting empty.

“We found a way,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I told the team, ‘If we’re going to win a championship, you have to win games like this.’ It just comes with it.”

A revitalized rushing game aided the Terps immensely on an afternoon when both teams contended with downpours, drizzle and every sort of rain in between. Scott had his best game since the season opener, gashing the Wolfpack for much of the day and scoring a go-ahead touchdown on a 24-yard run in the third quarter.

N.C. State soon tied it, but Scott remained Maryland’s most effective offensive tool - until he was hurt with 3:35 remaining and was forced to leave in favor of Meggett, whose workload to that juncture was only three carries.

Scott departed after reinjuring the left shoulder that cost him a game last month but not without a few words.

“He was saying a lot of things,” quarterback Chris Turner said. “He was yelling a lot. I couldn’t make out quite what he was saying, but it was something motivational.”

Whatever it was, it did the job. Meggett ran four times for 20 yards in the next few minutes, pushing the Terps to the N.C. State 35. Turner, who threw for 126 yards in the suboptimal conditions, nearly connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey on a touchdown in what was ruled an incomplete pass.

Then came a screen in the right flat to Meggett, a play designed to get Maryland inside the 30. Turner couldn’t see the freshman when he made the throw over an oncoming defensive lineman but was fully aware of the result when Meggett was dragged down at the N.C. State 4 with 28 seconds left.

Offensive coordinator James Franklin wanted to try for a touchdown. Friedgen overruled him, ordering a run to the middle of the field that set up Egekeze’s field goal.

“When I saw an opportunity to end this thing, I didn’t want to take a chance of screwing it up,” Friedgen said.

The chance to avoid the return of N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson to the field had something to do with Friedgen’s conservatism. The redshirt freshman flustered Maryland’s exhausted defense throughout the game, scrambling with frequency and throwing on the run for many of his 187 yards.

The loss of linebacker Dave Philistin (shoulder bruise) didn’t help. The senior left in the middle of the first quarter, and Friedgen said Philistin’s injury was mild enough he might be able to return Nov. 6 when the Terps visit Virginia Tech.

Either way, Wilson’s theatrics - the Wolfpack were 9-for-15 on third-down conversions - tormented Maryland. The Terps struggled with their tackling all day in the slippery conditions and yielded four scoring drives of at least 10 plays. But they forced N.C. State to punt in its last two extended possessions.

“We were killing ourselves,” senior defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre said. “I came out of halftime, and I saw the time of possession was so unproportional, and it was all our own fault. It was third down, and we have to get off the field, and we’re letting this guy run around. We did it to ourselves.”

The problems didn’t prove costly. Instead, Maryland escaped in better position in the league title chase than at the start of the day. There was also the matter of bowl eligibility, though the Terps harbor greater ambitions now that a postseason date is nearly solidified.

“Right now, that’s done with,” Friedgen said. “We’re focusing on winning the next four games.”



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