- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

Call it divine intervention.
Call it a series of wild coincidences.
Or just call it plain luck.
Call it what you want; it won't change the fact that, after six games, the Maryland football team remains undefeated.
The Terrapins' perfect season stayed intact Thursday night thanks to one horrific gaffe by Georgia Tech tailback Joe Burns and a miraculous game-tying drive capped by an unlikely 46-yard field goal from struggling freshman Nick Novak with no time remaining.
"I just said, 'God is good,'" Maryland cornerback Tony Okanlawon said.
The 22nd-ranked Terps' 20-17 overtime win over No. 15 Georgia Tech was a combination of luck and great execution. Maryland became bowl eligible with a 6-0 (4-0 ACC) record and at the same time severely damaged Georgia Tech's season. The question is no longer whether the Terps will go to a bowl for the first time since 1990 but which bowl they will go to.
The scenario didn't seem likely when the Yellow Jackets (4-2, 1-2) had the ball with a 17-14 lead and 3:02 remaining. Quarterback George Godsey led Tech to 17 straight points after Maryland took a 14-0 lead at the half. The Yellow Jackets needed only a few first downs to run the clock out.
"Burns ran on the first play and broke three tackles," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen, who called timeout to stop the clock after the 4-yard gain. "I called [the defense] over and said, 'It looks like they want it more than we do.' I said, 'If you want this game, you have to rise to the occasion right now.'"
Maryland's E.J. Henderson stopped Burns for a 2-yard loss, and the Terps called another timeout. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of Maryland's blitzing on third down with a screen pass to Will Glover for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
The Terps had only one timeout left, and it seemed that three more running plays, even without a first down, nearly would run out the clock. On first down at the Tech 48, Burns lost a yard, and Maryland took its final timeout with 2:08 left. On second down, Godsey lost 5 yards when Randy Starks tackled him, but the clock kept ticking. Maryland got the break it needed on third down when Burns ran around the left side and inexplicably ran out of bounds after a 2-yard gain, stopping the clock with 1:26 left.
"That was a crucial mistake," Friedgen said. "That saved 50 seconds. If he had stayed in bounds, we had no timeouts."
"I came in this morning and told [Terps defensive end] Durrand Roundtree that was the best tackle he ever missed," Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill said. "He had a chance to hit him in the backfield, and the guy got away from him and wound up running out of bounds."
After a punt, Maryland took over at its 20. Hill then connected on five of seven passes, practiced excellent time management and led the Terps on a 51-yard drive to Tech's 29. The senior threw for three first downs. Hill took advantage of the prevent defense to hit Guilian Gary for an 18-yard pickup to Georgia Tech's 46 with 40 seconds left. After two incomplete passes, Hill found Rich Parson on a crossing pattern, and the freshman receiver dragged a defender several vital yards for a 17-yard pickup. Hill then spiked the ball with five seconds left, and Maryland had a chance to tie on a long field goal.
The chances of an extra session were remote when Novak came on the field to try a 46-yard field goal. The freshman had made just four of 11 field goals on the season, his longest coming from 33 yards. He had missed his only attempt of the game a 32-yarder that would have given Maryland a 17-0 lead in the third quarter. Georgia Tech called timeout to ice the kicker.
"He's been missing but not missing by that much," Friedgen said. "Unfortunately, it's kind of like being pregnant either you are or you aren't."
The coach called Novak to the sideline during the stoppage and tried to crack a joke to ease the tension. He reminded him of a 50-yard kick he made recently in a pressure situation in practice.
Novak may as well have been Mark Moseley when he came back on the field. He drilled the kick through the uprights with plenty of room to spare to make it 17-17.
"The snap was a little high, but [holder] Brooks [Barnard] put it down," Novak said. "I kept my head down. I looked up at the last second and saw it go through the uprights. It was the greatest feeling of my life. I just started crying. I felt I needed to prove myself. I just couldn't believe I had a second chance."
Novak also provided what proved to be the game-winning score when he nailed a 26-yarder after Maryland started with the ball in overtime.
On Georgia Tech's overtime possession, Burns cost Tech one final time when he fumbled on second down at Maryland's 22. Starks had the initial hit, and safety Randall Jones recovered the loose ball to end the game. The Terps forced six turnovers on the day. Jones had two fumble recoveries and an interception.
"We should give [Burns] the game ball," Terps linebacker Aaron Thompson said. "He ran out of bounds, and he's the one that fumbled the ball. It was like we had a 12th man on the field."
Notes Linebacker Marlon Moye-Moore played for the first time after being suspended from the team in February on criminal charges. The senior was cleared of all charges except misdemeanor assault in a late September trial. Friedgen had considered redshirting him.
The Terps began reaping the rewards of their success when wide receiver Danny Melendez verbally committed to the program yesterday morning, becoming the 10th player to commit for next season. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Melendez, from Lancaster, Pa., picked Maryland over Georgia Tech and Syracuse.
About 75 Maryland fans greeted the team when it arrived in College Park at 4 a.m. yesterday.

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