- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

It wasn't fool's gold that the Maryland Terrapins discovered in the hills of West Virginia on the first weekend in October.
Scott McBrien lined up on Mountaineer Field as the unproven quarterback of a fragile football team. After a good fake, McBrien went around the right corner on an uncontested 22-yard touchdown run. Suddenly, the unproven commodity became a valuable quarterback.
Ultimately, McBrien is the biggest reason the Terps were able to shake off an awful start to their season and now will take 10 wins and a No.20 ranking to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve.
"I would say that play was pretty much the turning point of my season and this team's season," McBrien said. "The first drive, to go there and score like that was just a tremendous confidence booster. It really gave the whole team confidence in me. That was the first time I really felt like that."
No longer were the Terps a confused young team trying to find its way. In a shotgun snap, Maryland had found an identity and an inspiring quarterback.
McBrien had failed to lead his team on a touchdown drive and had thrown four interceptions in ugly losses to Notre Dame and Florida State in the early weeks of the season.
Against the Mountaineers, McBrien shook off his personal struggles and gave the Terps their first lead over a highly regarded opponent. The 6-foot junior not only had jitters because of his past difficulties running the offense but also because he was returning to his former school. McBrien transferred from West Virginia after the 2000 season; he was regarded there as something of a traitor and took some verbal abuse on his return to Mountaineer Field.
"That was in front of friends and family and his old school," Terrapins wide receiver Scooter Monroe said. "There was history and things like that, and he came through big. That play did boost his confidence and was one of those turning points in the season."
Maryland raced to a 35-0 first-half lead, helped by a 45-yard touchdown from McBrien to Jafar Williams, en route to a 48-17 demolition of the Mountaineers. After his TD run, McBrien did a somersault in the end zone the first time all season the Terps had something worth getting excited about. He claims the acrobatic move resulted from being tripped, but afterward the understated quarterback celebrated with high-fives and a rare public display of enthusiasm on his way to the sideline.
"That really changed his demeanor completely," said Terps offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe, who called the play because the defense was overpursuing and he felt it was ripe for a misdirection play.
The West Virginia game was the third victory and first over a quality opponent in an eight-game winning streak that ultimately landed the Terps (10-3) in the Peach Bowl against Tennessee.
McBrien, now the nation's 10th-rated quarterback, had two interceptions and was pulled in Florida State's 37-10 win over the Terps in the third game of the season. Since then, the left-hander has thrown 14 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.
The full extent of McBrien's confidence and development was displayed four games later against N.C. State. Despite having a 46-yard run called back, McBrien rallied the Terps from a 21-7 second-half deficit.
The quarterback completed all three passes for 59 yards on the drive that set up Bruce Perry's 9-yard touchdown run, cutting the Wolfpack's lead to seven late in the third quarter. Then McBrien ran 21 yards to make it 21-21 and set up Nick Novak's game-winning field goal in the final minute with a 36-yard strike to Steve Suter.
The TD that tied the game in the fourth quarter came off a play similar to the one at West Virginia. McBrien took the snap out of the shotgun, faked a handoff to running back Chris Downs and rolled around the right corner untouched on a 21-yard run.
"I didn't think I would ever have that wide open of a lane again, but it turned out the same way," said McBrien, who has five rushing touchdown and is the team's fourth-leading rusher with 248 yards. "No one accounted for me."
McBrien is still a quiet leader, but now he gives off different vibes since the Terps discovered a quarterback on their football expedition into the West Virginia hills.
"It's not a cockiness or anything like that," guard C.J. Brooks said. "That's why we feel like it's still the same Scotty though he's doing a lot better."

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