- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2001

RALEIGH, N.C. Maryland's rag-to-riches football team finished the regular season with the crown jewel.
The Terrapins appeared to be out of the game after a near-fatal mistake late in the fourth quarter before coming back with a superb two-minute drill to eke out a 23-19 win over N.C. State before 51,500 at Carter-Finley Stadium. The winning score came on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Guilian Gary with 41 seconds remaining. It capped a 10-play, 61-yard drive that was representative of the spectacular season the Terps are experiencing
The 10th-ranked Terps wrapped up the ACC title outright, and assured themselves a berth in a BCS bowl. The Terps (10-1, 7-1 ACC) earned their first 10-win season since 1976 and won their first league crown since 1985, ending Florida State's nine-year reign. The next stop likely is the Orange Bowl in Miami on Jan. 2.
"This is a special bunch," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said, "maybe one of the best teams ever at the University of Maryland. They have done so much. They are ACC champions all by themselves."
But it nearly didn't happen after Maryland receiver Rich Parson caught a beautiful strike from quarterback Shaun Hill and was racing towards the end zone and the likely game-winning touchdowns when disaster struck.
Parson had nearly completed a 65-yard scoring pass when he was stripped at the 1. N.C. State's LaMont Reid caused the fumble, and teammate Levar Fisher fell on the ball in the end zone with 2:51 left.
Luckily for the Terps, they got the ball back one last time after the defense held, giving their offense one final, unlikely shot.
"It's just amazing," said Hill, who converted a fourth-and-5 early in the game-winning series with a 9-yard pass to tailback Bruce Perry in the flat. "We don't get down. We don't get discouraged. We just keep on fighting."
Terps safety Tony Jackson intercepted Philip Rivers' desperation pass with seconds remaining to preserve the win.
N.C. State (6-4, 4-4) scored its first touchdown with 3:58 left on a 1-yard pass from Rivers to Cotra Jones, which allowed the Wolfpack to take a 19-16 lead. The critical play on the 14-play, 80-yard drive was a fourth-and-2 at Maryland's 8 when Rivers connected with Willie Wright on a diving catch just shy of the end zone.
The Terps first took the lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Hill (296 yards passing) with 9:32 left in the game. It came off an option, and he raced untouched around right end to complete a 10-play, 70-yard drive. The possession featured a 19-yard catch-and-run by Jafar Williams, and an impressive over-the-shoulder catch by Gary for 25 yards off a perfectly thrown ball by Hill that gave the Terps the ball at the Wolfpack's 19.
The Wolfpack had regained the lead on Adam Kiker's fourth field goal of the night, a 28-yard field goal with 3:45 left in the third quarter. The key play on the 52-yard drive was a 31-yard connection from Rivers to wide-open Jerricho Cotchery off a busted coverage, which gave the Pack the ball at Maryland's 25.
The Terps took the lead following a 5-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Gary (seven catches, 74 yards) with 8:42 left in the third quarter. Maryland took the opening drive of the second half 70 yards over 6:09 before Hill rolled left on third down at N.C. State's and fired the ball to Gary, who was cutting towards the left sideline. The pass just eluded the outstretched arms of cornerback Brian Williams.
Maryland was successful on three third downs on the drive, including converting a third-and-7 at N.C. State's 35 on a 10-yard completion from Hill to Scooter Monroe.
N.C. State led 9-3 at halftime thanks to three field goals by Kiker, the last two after 64-yard drives. The Wolfpack dominated the second quarter before Maryland executed a crisp two-minute drill and scored on a 25-yard field goal by Nick Novak with five seconds left in the half.
Before the Terps' late drive, N.C. State ran 24 plays in the second period to Maryland's seven. The Wolfpack's first field goal came after a 67-yard interception return by Julius Patterson. N.C. State built the lead 9-0 after a 15-play drive and a 13-play series that resulted in scores. Kiker's career-longest field goal of 41 yards gave the Pack a 9-0 advantage with 1:38 left in the half.
Rivers completed 13-of-19 passes in the half for 122 yards but wasn't able to lead N.C. State into the end zone.
After Kiker's third successful kick, Maryland responded with an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive, using excellent time management. The big play was a leaping catch by Jafar Williams down the right sideline for a 25-yard gain to the Pack's 20. The Terps nearly had a touchdown when wide out Rich Parson broke free in the back of the end zone, but Hill overthrew the ball.


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