- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 15, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Maryland’s football team couldn’t help but wonder when it would be on the receiving end of some good luck in the aftermath of a loss at Georgia Tech earlier this month.

The wait finally ended in the second half yesterday at Scott Stadium.

The Terrapins took advantage of two special teams miscues and returned an interception for a touchdown as they surged past Virginia 28-26.

Maryland (4-2, 1-1 ACC) trailed 20-0 at halftime after a lackluster first half that featured Virginia shredding a porous run defense and the Cavaliers turning a Sam Hollenbach interception into a field goal.

Yet things changed after the Terps’ first possession of the second half ended with a punt. Emmanuel Byars muffed the return, and Maryland’s Isaiah Gardner pounced on it at the Virginia 1. Lance Ball dived into the end zone on the next play, narrowing the gap to 20-7.

“That was the spark they were looking for,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We just haven’t gotten anything like that.”

Indeed, Maryland’s habit in recent years has been to make mistakes at critical times rather than take advantage of an opponent’s generosity. Yet later in the quarter, Virginia’s Chris Gould shanked a 16-yard punt, giving Maryland possession at the Cavaliers 31.

Six plays later, Sam Hollenbach scored on a bootleg to pull Maryland within 20-14, further deflating the Cavaliers (2-5, 1-2).

“Coach Friedgen told us they got all the breaks in the first half,” tailback Keon Lattimore said. “Now it’s time the ball is going to bounce our way. We made the best of our opportunities.”

The last of those chances came just two plays after Lattimore scored the go-ahead touchdown. Linebacker Erin Henderson stepped in front of tight end Jonathan Stupar for an interception and brought it back 45 yards for a touchdown, the first time a Maryland player did that since Domonique Foxworth in 2003.

That also was the last time the Terps went to a bowl game, and an opportunistic performance like yesterday’s bodes well for Maryland’s hopes for returning to the postseason.

“We’ve had some tough luck,” Henderson said. “Shoot, the past few years we’ve had some tough luck. Hopefully we’re turning the corner, and hopefully we’ll continue to get the breaks that we need down the road. Every now and again it’s going to take a little bit of luck to win games. It’s not always going to be straight outmanning them.”

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