- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen spoke all week about the importance of yesterday's game against N.C. State. The winner had a shot at greatness. The loser had to settle for merely being good.
For most of the afternoon, the Terrapins didn't look like either. But thanks to a speedy sophomore who has become their gamebreaker and a pep talk to the defense by the coach, that opportunity for a great season remains alive.
Wide receiver Steve Suter scored on an end around and set up Nick Novak's game-winning field goal with a 36-yard reception as the Terps overcame a shaky start to beat the No. 14 Wolfpack 24-21 at Byrd Stadium for their seventh consecutive win. Novak's 26-yarder with 34 seconds left gave Maryland a late victory over N.C. State for the third year in a row.
"We just want to show everybody that we are a powerhouse," said Suter, whose 64-yard TD run in the first half came after N.C. State jumped out to a 14-0 lead. "Defense kept us in the game. We really showed our character."
That character looked questionable to Friedgen midway through the third quarter. First, the Terps botched a golden scoring opportunity by failing to score on two plays from inside the 1 late in the first half. Then N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers, who was nearly perfect through three quarters, led the Wolfpack on a long touchdown drive on their first possession of the second half. When the Terps went down 21-7, Friedgen was livid.
"I called over the defense and said, 'I don't think I have ever seen you play where it looks like you have given up,'" Friedgen said. "And I said, 'I'm disappointed.'"
Give up, the Terps did not.
Maryland cut the lead to seven on the first touchdown of Bruce Perry's injury-plagued season. N.C. State missed a chip-shot field goal, and Terps cornerback Domonique Foxworth came up with an interception on the Wolfpack's next series. Foxworth's 26-yard return set up Scott McBrien's 21-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
"He wasn't irate or too emotional," Foxworth said of Friedgen's speech. "He said he was disappointed. We knew we could do better."
The victory left Maryland (8-2, 4-1 ACC) with an outside shot at a share of the conference championship, but the Terps need Florida State to lose, probably twice. The Seminoles improved their league record to 6-0 yesterday with a 21-13 win over Georgia Tech. The likely trouble spot in conference play for Florida State comes Nov. 23 at N.C. State. Still, the Terps are in line for the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
The Wolfpack (9-2, 4-2) lost their second straight after opening the season with nine wins. It also was the third year in a row in which Maryland stunned N.C. State in the final seconds. Last year, the Terps clinched the ACC title with a touchdown with 41 seconds left, and two years ago they won in double overtime.
Rivers completed 24 of 40 passes for 297 yards but hit only one of his final nine with two interceptions as Maryland disguised coverages and used extensive blitzes to rattle him.
The crowd of 52,915 the fourth-largest in Byrd Stadium history was virtually silent after N.C. State opened up the 14-point lead with an 11-play, 66-yard drive on its first possession after intermission. Wolfpack receiver Jerricho Cotchery (12 catches, 144 yards) had three receptions for 36 yards on the drive, which lasted 5:08. Tailback Josh Brown, filling in for the injured T.A. McLendon in the second half, scored on a 2-yard run as N.C. State went ahead 21-7 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
The Terps answered with a six-play, 70-yard touchdown drive. A 27-yard pass to Jafar Williams set up a 9-yard scoring run by Perry, who had 10 carries for 23 yards after missing all but one play this year because of injuries.
Even after the talk with Friedgen, the Terps' defense continued to struggle. The Wolfpack drove 56 yards to the Maryland 17 before the Terps them up. After nose tackle Randy Starks stuffed Brown for a 1-yard loss, Terps safety Madieu Williams blitzed and forced Rivers to fumble. The quarterback recovered the loose ball for a 4-yard loss and managed to set up what should have been an easy field goal with an 11-yard pass to Brown on third down. But kicker Adam Kiker missed a 28-yard field goal to the right, and the missed kick rendered a 12-play drive that lasted 6:27 pointless.
"It seemed like we were flat," Williams said. "That was the momentum we needed. That was crucial. When he missed, I felt it was like 'Here we go.'"
All that momentum seemed to dissipate when Maryland went three-and-out. But on N.C. State's first play, Foxworth picked off an underthrown ball and returned it to the Wolfpack 38. Receiver Bryan Peterson tripped, and the cornerback took advantage of the floating pass.
"I wasn't really covering the man," said Foxworth, who expected a shorter pass because Maryland came with an all-out blitz. "I was just going to the spot where I expected him to throw it."
Three plays later, McBrien scored a 21-yard touchdown, faking an inside handoff to Chris Downs and going untouched around the right corner. The quarterback read the defensive pursuit and decided on his own not to hand off to Downs, fooling the entire Wolfpack defense. The game was 21-21 with 9:26 left.
After N.C. State moved to the Maryland 41, the defense again rose to the occasion. On third-and-4, Foxworth tipped away a wobbly pass, then nose tackle Randy Starks deflected a fourth-down pass.
After a series of punts, Maryland got the ball back at its 40 and got a first down after a questionable spot on a run by McBrien on third down. On first down, Suter easily beat Lamont Reid on a crossing pattern and pulled in McBrien's deep ball in stride for 36 yards before running out of bounds. Four plays later, Novak nailed the 26-yarder.
"It's every kicker's dream to have a kick like that," said Novak, the ACC's most accurate kicker.
Rivers got the Wolfpack to the Maryland 40 on a 40-yard Hail Mary to Peterson. On the next play, however, nickelback Raymond Custis intercepted Rivers with 14 seconds left.
It ended a wild game in which Maryland dropped balls, struggled on defense and had 10 penalties. The Terps failed to score on two plays from N.C. State's 1-yard line just before halftime. McBrien mishandled a snap on a third down play, and Downs couldn't convert on fourth. In the end, it didn't matter.

"Our biorhythms weren't right," Friedgen said. "It's the mark of a good team that can win especially against another good team when you are not playing your best. That's a credit to the character of our team."

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