- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

Maryland’s Sam Hollenbach was in some pain about an hour after the Terrapins’ game at North Carolina on Saturday. Throwing 31 passes with a separated collarbone will do that to a quarterback. So will tossing a pair of interceptions that led to two Tar Heels touchdowns.

Yet the junior couldn’t help but grin about Maryland’s come-from-behind 33-30 overtime victory at Kenan Stadium. It was a triumph with the potential to catapult the Terps toward a bowl game even as it came in the midst of a performance littered with vexing mistakes.

Then again, maybe that’s why Maryland savored the victory so much and why Hollenbach could ignore his achy left shoulder so easily.

“I’m feeling a lot better because of the win,” Hollenbach said.

So are the Terps (5-4, 3-3 ACC), who get to avoid the mantra of win-or-else for at least a week if not the rest of the season. Maryland needs only a split of its last two games — Saturday’s home finale against No.23 Boston College (7-3, 4-3) and the following week’s visit to N.C. State (4-5, 2-5) — to clinch bowl eligibility.

There is some question the ACC will find bowls to take all of its eligible teams. The conference already has seven bowl-eligible teams to fill its six tie-ins, and there is a chance — albeit slim — Maryland, North Carolina and N.C. State all could win six games as well.

“I think if we win this next one, I think we’d be in the postseason,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday. “When you look around the country, there’s a lot of teams like us, so you never know.”

Maryland — and Hollenbach in particular — left Chapel Hill with plenty to work on this week. Hollenbach made up for his two interceptions with long touchdown passes to Jo Jo Walker and Danny Melendez in the fourth quarter to erase a 10-point deficit, but the turnovers remain especially frustrating to Friedgen.

Still, the struggles were somewhat predictable. Hollenbach hadn’t taken significant game snaps since suffering his collarbone injury Oct.20 against Virginia Tech. While his arm strength has returned — his touchdown throws to Walker and Melendez were near-perfect strikes — his decision-making appeared rusty.

“Especially before the Virginia Tech game, I thought we were very sharp in making those decisions,” Friedgen said. “I’m sure he’s a little banged up. We just have to get him back in form.”

That could be difficult for Hollenbach, especially with only two weeks left to regain the comfort in the pocket he achieved earlier in the season. Friedgen believes it will happen this week when the Terps will face a Boston College defense even more voracious than the Carolina unit that sacked Hollenbach three times and sent him scrambling even more often.

For a first game back, though, Hollenbach looked enough like the quarterback that led Maryland to a 4-2 start to provide hope to the Terps. He threw for a career-high 374 yards, withstood the constant Carolina pressure and remained calm even after his errors helped put the Terps down 27- 17.

“To have a game where we make some mistakes in the middle of the game and things don’t look real good for us, to come out and actually come from behind and finish the game like that [helps],” Hollenbach said. “I think what this game could do for us is give us confidence that no matter what situation we’re in, in the next two games we play we always have a chance to win.”

Notes — Friedgen said cornerback Josh Wilson was “better than anticipated” after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter Saturday. “We’re optimistic about his playing,” Friedgen said. … If Wilson sits out against Boston College, Isaiah Gardner would probably start. However, the sophomore has battled a nagging groin pull and will not practice until Wednesday in an attempt to get healthy. …

Friedgen said kicker Obi Egekeze (right quadriceps) finally could play this week. Dan Ennis missed two field goals and an extra point, and Chris Roberts sent a kickoff out of bounds against North Carolina. “I’d like to see where Obi’s at,” Friedgen said. “We could make that a competitive situation.”

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