- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Maryland tried to steal a victory last night. Instead, the Terrapins were caught before halftime and wound up suffering another lopsided loss to their nemesis.

No.11 Florida State beat winless Maryland 35-10 before 82,885 at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) are now 14-0 against the Terps after again using turnovers, a diverse offense and team speed to wear them down after trailing 10-0 early.

Maryland (0-2, 0-1) improved greatly over its 20-13 overtime loss at Northern Illinois on Aug.28. However, the slow start makes the Terps a long shot to meet their preseason goals of winning the ACC title and reaching a major bowl. Maryland plays The Citadel on Saturday in its home opener.

Coach Ralph Friedgen asked the Terps to play with passion after their lackluster opening loss, and his players certainly did so early on. After meeting the Seminoles’ mounted mascot at midfield during the traditional pregame planting of a flaming spear, the defiant Terps clearly were brewing for a brawl and opened with two quick scores to silence the usual and seemingly nonstop war chants.

“We were showing we weren’t going to be intimidated,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “We weren’t afraid.”

This was obvious when Maryland led 10-0 in less than five minutes. However, the tomahawk chop soon returned. Florida State used a quick-strike offense that mixed long passes with solid running to keep the Terps’ defense off balance.

Offensively, Maryland couldn’t run effectively and suffered several short series and two turnovers during Florida State’s decisive second-quarter spurt. The Terps couldn’t get much yardage on the ground, setting up third-and-long situations. Ultimately, the expected high-scoring unit was again ineffective.

“We’re not executing,” Friedgen said. “I’m not very pleased where we’re at offensively.”

Quarterback Scott McBrien was six of 18 passing for just 61 yards and twice was pulled briefly for receiver Latrez Harrison, who ran option plays. Running back Bruce Perry gained 32 yards before leaving in the third quarter after aggravating a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for the past month. He missed part of the second half after aggravating the injury.

Big plays undermined Maryland’s defense, especially open field breakaways where Florida State’s speed advantage proved decisive. The Seminoles used a 44-yard run on an end run for the go-ahead touchdown, plus a 34-yard touchdown reception, and a 67-yard pass on a quick slant set up another score. Florida State finished with 427 yards as running back Greg Jones and receiver P.K. Sam each scored twice.

Florida State led 21-10 at halftime, but it was Maryland that dominated early after Jackson scored on a 58-yard interception for a 7-0 lead on the Seminoles’ first snap.

“I guess [quarterback Chris Rix] didn’t see me,” Jackson said. “I was determined to see that play go to the end.”

Jackson stepped in front of Florida State tight end Paul Irons for his first career interception and shed two tacklers after leaving Rix behind at the 15. Later Jackson blocked a Florida State field goal attempt.

The sudden lead also bolstered Maryland’s defense, which forced Florida State to go three-and-out on its next possession to set up returner Steve Suter’s debut after he missed the opener with a strained hamstring. Suter returned the punt 12 yards to Florida State’s 34.

The Terps were stymied after McBrien’s 12-yard keeper, but Nick Novak converted his third straight field goal of the season, a 44-yarder, for a 10-0 lead with 10:06 left in the first quarter.

The Seminoles weren’t shaken, responding with three unanswered first-half touchdowns. Receiver Craphonso Thorpe scored on an 18-yard catch over cornerback Domonique Foxworth, and Jones followed with his 44-yard touchdown run for a 14-10 lead with 11:29 remaining in the second quarter.

Florida State then went 99 yards for a commanding 21-10 lead with 5:38 remaining in the half. The Seminoles used a 67-yard reception by Sam to set up Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run. Sam later added a 34-yard touchdown catch.

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