- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

For almost three quarters yesterday at Byrd Stadium, N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers thwarted the Maryland football team's defense with an array of swing passes and short crossing patterns as the Wolfpack built a 14-point lead.
But by the end of the Terrapins' 24-21 victory over the 14th-ranked Wolfpack, it was Rivers who was flustered, unable to handle the Terps' increased pressure in his team's final five possessions.
"They brought a few blitzes," said Rivers, who threw for 297 yards. "They came down and made some good breakups. It was either/or. We'd either make a good catch, or they'd make a good breakup. They were making the breakups."
The N.C. State junior completed just one of his final 10 attempts and threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. The first, an underthrown pass picked off by cornerback Domonique Foxworth, set up Maryland's game-tying touchdown.
Foxworth also broke up a Rivers pass on the Wolfpack's next possession. Rivers had moved N.C. State to the Maryland 35 when Foxworth batted away a pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery on third down to stall another drive.
After applying little pressure for much of the game, Maryland began mixing more cornerback and safety blitzes into its defense. Early in the fourth quarter, safety Madieu Williams stuffed a Wolfpack drive with a sack of Rivers. Two plays later, N.C. State's Aaron Kiker missed a 28-yard field goal that could have put the Wolfpack ahead 24-14.
"We had been playing a lot of zone, and [defensive coordinator Gary] Blackney mixed it up with a lot of man-to-man in the second half," Williams said. "I don't think they really knew what we were in because we did a good job of disguising our coverages to the point where it looked like we were playing zone when we were playing man."
The pressure also came from a front seven that had given Rivers plenty of time to throw in the first half. Instead of waiting patiently in the pocket, Rivers was forced to take off several times to avoid the Terps' blitz late in the game.
"Anybody's DBs can't sit back and cover for so long," defensive tackle Randy Starks said. "We knew we could stop the run. The main thing was getting pressure to stop the pass. We couldn't get to him in the first half, but we made sure we got to him in the second half."
Rivers completed 21 of his first 27 passes for 230 yards, shredding a Maryland secondary that ranked third in the ACC entering the game.
N.C. State tailback T.A. McLendon was left open several times in the first half and caught three passes in the flat for 37 yards. But he left the game with a shoulder injury just before halftime and did not return. The Wolfpack, in turn, abandoned the swing pass that had proved effective against the Terps.
"I honestly don't know why they went away from that play," Foxworth said. "The back they had in seemed like a better receiver than McLendon. It might have been the calls our coaches were making, but I was surprised I didn't see that in the second half."
Maryland eventually solved the Wolfpack's crossing patterns as well. Cotchery caught 12 passes for 144 yards, mostly in the middle of the field against soft coverage, but didn't have a reception in the last nine minutes. The Wolfpack didn't try the play again after Terps safety Dennard Wilson batted a Rivers pass away deep in N.C. State territory with five minutes left.
"We took the underneath thing away," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We knew what they were going to do. It's really a tough pattern. Finally, Dennard stopped it late in the game."


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