- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2008

Chris Turner and a drenched Sam Hollenbach caught up Saturday night in the Terrapins‘ team house, a reunion of old teammates with increasingly more in common.

Maryland’s quarterbacks of the past and present both surged up the depth chart during their sophomore years to become starters. And they both engineered some memorable victories for the Terps, who Sunday entered the national rankings for the first time this season at No. 25.

Turner’s latest - a 27-24 defeat of N.C. State in a downpour as Hollenbach watched from the stands - had all the hallmarks of some of his predecessor’s finest moments.

It was close. Things weren’t decided until the closing seconds. And much like two years ago when Hollenbach presided over a five-game winning streak by a combined 13 points, Maryland summoned a crucial play or two at exactly the right moment to escape with a victory.

The 2006 squad remained in the ACC title chase until the final weekend of the regular season. These Terps (6-2, 3-1 ACC) enter their final bye week tied for the Atlantic Division lead with Florida State after winning a tight one rather than a blowout.

“That was kind of the theme of that year,” said Turner, who was a redshirt freshman on the 2006 team. “This year the teams that we do beat, we handle them. We stole one at Clemson and kind of stole one [Saturday] and squeaked it out. We need to win those close games because they’re not always going the way you want. You have to find a way to win.”

Maryland did so primarily with the help of three plays, each strange in its own way. The Terps extended a possession at the start of the fourth quarter when N.C. State was assessed a personal foul, and even though it didn’t lead to any points, it kept an overworked defense off the field for nearly four more minutes.

When the Wolfpack finally regained possession, they made it to the Maryland 28 before defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre took down evasive quarterback Russell Wilson for a 12-yard loss and knocked N.C. State out of field goal range.

Then came Turner’s blind screen pass to Davin Meggett, a 31-yard gain down the right sideline to set up Obi Egekeze’s game-winning field goal two plays later.

They weren’t unlike some memorable plays from 2006, such as Hollenbach’s two long touchdown throws to Darrius Heyward-Bey against Miami, Erin Henderson’s interception return for a score against Virginia and Navarre’s blocked field goal to seal a defeat of Florida State.

Coach Ralph Friedgen and the Terps went through plenty of antacid that fall - and could yet again if Saturday’s victory is a harbinger of how November will unfold.

“I hope it’s not,” Navarre said. “That year was a lot of stress. This game was a lot of stress going down to the wire. I hope we play better so we put ourselves in position that when there’s 30 seconds left, we know that in 30 seconds it’s over.”

Avoiding too many close calls isn’t the only difference the Terps would like to establish. The 2006 team also dropped its final two conference games, squandering a chance to play for a league championship.

Of course, there is no title talk just yet. The Terps insist they aren’t thinking beyond a Nov. 6 date with Virginia Tech, preferring to take care of matters themselves - even if they are paying some attention to how their fellow contenders fare.

“Now it’s like the Final Four [basketball] playoff: Boston College lost and Wake Forest lost, so there’s just a couple teams left,” junior defensive back Jamari McCollough said. “It’s just like a playoff. It’s like a tournament, and that’s how we’re looking at it.”

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