- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Four touchdowns in 100 seconds, a record-setting running game and two missed extra points turned a meaningless game into a memorable regular-season finale for Maryland.

“I thought I was going to a tennis match,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I was wondering who was holding serve.”

Maryland upended Wake Forest 41-28 yesterday before 18,783 at Groves Stadium in a game that included enough big plays to fill both teams’ highlight films. The Terrapins used two interceptions to fuel their second comeback victory in eight days on Tobacco Road.

The Terps (9-3, 6-2 ACC) outlasted the Demon Deacons for their fourth straight win and ninth in 10 games since opening 0-2. Maryland plays West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Jan.1 as the ACC runner-up. Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5) ended its season with three straight losses.

Friedgen had worried that players would overlook the game after earning the New Year’s Day bowl invitation last week. He also was concerned that Maryland had split its two previous games before small road crowds.

“It felt like the Eastern Michigan game,” said center Kyle Schmitt of the Terps 37-13 road victory before less than 10,000. “But after last week’s game, nobody was going to give up.”

This was a record-setting game for runners. Wake Forest’s Chris Barclay rushed for a career-best 243 yards and three touchdowns while Maryland’s Bruce Perry had 237 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time two opposing ACC runners gained more than 200 yards and only the fifth time in NCAA history.

Perry delivered the second-best game of his career, short of only the 276 yards he gained at Wake Forest in 2001. The senior even scored on an 80-yard run when he mistakenly took the ball from quarterback Scott McBrien on an option play.

“I need to buy a house down here,” Perry said. “I was just trying to get 3 or 4 yards and then you get 8.”

Perry felt some redemption after two injury-marred seasons left him seldom able to show the form that made him the ACC’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2001. He even overcame a sprained ankle sustained when he was hit from behind in the first quarter.

“I always knew I could do it,” he said. “I just wanted to prove I could play with pain. … Coach Friedgen told me this was my last [regular-season] game as a Terp and to go out with class.”

Meanwhile, McBrien continued his torrid play with three touchdown passes. He has thrown 10 touchdowns with no interceptions over four straight wins after suffering a concussion against Georgia Tech on Oct.23. McBrien completed 12 of 22 for 198 yards.

“Scott doesn’t have all the stats of those upper-level quarterbacks,” Friedgen said. “The only stats he has is, he wins games. This is his 20th win. That’s the only stat I’m concerned with.”

The victory overshadowed another shaky effort by kicker Nick Novak, who missed two extra points and a 41-yard field goal. Maryland’s leading career scorer missed an extra point against N.C. State before converting the winning field goal in a 26-24 victory.

“He’s got the yips,” Friedgen said. “We’ll get him out of it. He’s trying to steer them through. He’s starting to wear me out right now.”

Maryland trailed 21-13 at halftime after permitting consecutive 80- and 95-yard drives, plus an earlier 53-yard touchdown run. Barclay’s 53- and 5-yard scoring runs sandwiched Cory Randolph’s 5-yard keeper. The Terps defense permitted 242 yards in the half, with Barclay rushing for 129.

Maryland closed to 21-13 with 1:02 remaining in the first half on receiver Dan Melendez’s 14-yard touchdown. McBrien threw two touchdowns despite completing only seven of 18 for 97 yards.

However, the Terps used interceptions by linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and safety Madieu Williams to set up touchdowns for a 28-21 lead with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter. Perry scored on a 54-yard run before receiver Jafar Williams made with a 28-yard touchdown reception, with Perry catching a two-point conversion pass.

One play later, Barclay scored on a 74-yard run to tie it at 28. Maryland then countered on the next play with Perry’s 80-yard touchdown for a 35-28 edge. Perry followed with a 2-yard scoring run, but Novak missed the conversion for a 41-28 lead with 11:10 left.

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