- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Shaun Hill threw the ball into the end zone, and Guilian Gary reached out and caught a piece of history as Maryland locked up the ACC championship with its spectacular 23-19 win at N.C. State last season. Gary's 8-yard touchdown reception with 41 seconds left sent the Terps to the Orange Bowl and the Wolfpack into shock.

"It was silent except for our fans," Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "The crowd went from screaming so loud to dead silence. They couldn't believe it. It was a good feeling."

Maryland and N.C. State will play another high stakes game at Byrd Stadium on Saturday. Both teams are in contention for the ACC title, and, realistically, the loser will be eliminated.

The 14th-ranked Wolfpack (9-1, 5-1 ACC) are coming off their first loss of the season, a 24-17 upset by Georgia Tech in Raleigh, N.C., last week. The Terps (7-2, 3-1) enter on a six-game winning streak, complete with a 59-7 demolition of North Carolina last week.

N.C. State, with Heisman candidate Philip Rivers at quarterback, will try to rebound as well as break a run of misfortune against Maryland. The Terps are the only ACC team coach Chuck Amato has not defeated in his three seasons with the Wolfpack. In 2000, Hill came off the bench to orchestrate a comeback in the Terps' 35-28 double-overtime win.

"I wouldn't say it's anything particular with Maryland, like it's a jinx," said N.C. State's George Anderson, a senior defensive end. "We just have to go in there this week with a strong mind and not really focus on what's happened the last two years."

The winner will have a chance of catching Florida State (5-0 in ACC) and win the league outright or share the title. N.C. State hosts the Seminoles Nov.23. The Terps' last loss was to Florida State, and they would need Georgia Tech, North Carolina or N.C. State to beat the Seminoles.

Maryland expects a sellout crowd of 51,000 and a raucous atmosphere for the game, which will be televised through much of the country.

"We hear through the grapevine that everybody wants us," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said of being defending champions. "We're here."

High-powered Scooter

The Terps had a string of 54 games since 1997 without having a player gain 100 yards receiving going into the Oct.17 game with Georgia Tech. Since then, they have had a player do it in each of the last three games. Scooter Monroe did it against the Yellow Jackets and repeated it against North Carolina. Latrez Harrison accomplished the feat against Duke.

Last week Monroe caught an 80-yard touchdown pass to tie the game late in the first quarter. He also had a 70-yard catch, and finished with three receptions for a career-high 167 yards. The 6-foot-2 senior leads the Terps with 25 catches for 484 yards.

"He has improved so much over last year." Friedgen said. "He kind of was a body catcher. He would catch everything with his body instead of his hands. Now, he's tucking the ball. His confidence level has really improved over last year. You wouldn't see Scooter Monroe catch a ball over the middle last year. Now he catches most of them over the middle."

Extra points

Offensive tackle Matt Crawford (knee) participated in non-contact drills yesterday and is questionable for Saturday. Center Kyle Schmitt (shoulder) missed practice and is doubtful.

Steve Suter was named ACC Specialist of the Week after returning a punt 77 yards for a touchdown against North Carolina. It was the sophomore's fourth punt return for a touchdown this season, setting an ACC record and tying a NCAA Division I-A record. Rush linebacker Shawne Merriman, a freshman, was named Rookie of the Week after recording three sacks, eight tackles (seven solo), deflecting two passes and forcing a fumble.

Friedgen didn't like the way his team started its Monday night practice, the first since Saturday's win. "We were a little full of ourselves," he said. "I brought that right to an end."

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