- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2007

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Maryland quarterback Chris Turner began yesterday’s game perched on the sideline, tasked with sending signals into starter Jordan Steffy.

By the time it was over, he was riding off the field on tackle Dane Randolph’s shoulders, the unexpected hero of the Terrapins’ improbable 34-24 victory at Rutgers and a figure in a potential quarterback quandary for coach Ralph Friedgen.

Turner was 14-for-20 for 149 yards in relief of the injured Steffy in the second half, directing Maryland to a come-from-behind victory against the Scarlet Knights a week after the Terps stumbled to an overtime loss at Wake Forest.

“It’s beyond words,” Turner said. “It feels great, it’s great for the whole team and it’s great for the school. We needed this bad.”

The sophomore could find himself in position to earn some more chances. Steffy, who was sacked 18 times in 4½ games, was drilled on a safety blitz by Joe Lefeged late in the second quarter. He went to the locker room and did not return to the field.

Friedgen said Steffy, who was 4-for-8 for 70 yards and a touchdown, had a slight concussion and an injured shoulder. Though he said he would not know the extent of the injury until a full exam today, Friedgen said team physician Craig Bennett told him Steffy likely would be ready for Saturday’s visit from Georgia Tech.

As for who will start that game, Friedgen was noncommittal.

“I’m going to look at the tape and see,” Friedgen said. “We’re going to play the best guy.”

Turner, a redshirt sophomore whose only passing attempts came in a season-opening victory over Villanova, certainly gave him something to think about. The Terps, so cautious and unable to extend the field before yesterday, posed a legitimate passing threat after Turner completed some medium-to-deep throws.

Turner connected with Isaiah Williams on a 28-yard play early in the third quarter that set up a game-tying field goal. And it was his 27-yard dart to a sprawled out LaQuan Williams down the left side that led to Keon Lattimore’s 2-yard touchdown a play later.

“I take my hat off to the guy,” Lattimore said. “He played a great game. He came in, in the heat of the moment, and he was ready. He did what he’s supposed to do. Everything that we executed in practice, he put it out on the game field. He showed a lot of character, and he was so poised. But that’s what we need.”

Friedgen said during camp the play-calling options available to him might be more limited with Turner, a traditional pocket passer, under center than the more mobile Steffy. But Friedgen found ways to get Turner into the plays and corner routes he was comfortable with.

What’s more, Turner avoided the pass rush and wound up leading the Terps on scoring drives on four of six possessions at one juncture.

“I’ve always said this kid has a chance to be a good quarterback,” Friedgen said. “Sometimes in practice he doesn’t play like that, but it doesn’t really count in practice. He played pretty good today.”

Good enough to create a curious situation for the Terps, although Turner wasn’t willing to be dragged into such a soap opera just yet.

“I think I played well,” Turner said. “You’re asking the wrong guy. Who knows? Only time will tell. I definitely handled myself well. I did what I was coached to do, nothing more and nothing less.”

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