- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

For Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen’s sake, he’d better not be having reruns in his dreams.

After all, his team seems intent on playing the same game over and over each week.

For the second straight week, the Terrapins rallied past a school from a non-BCS conference at home late in the game. This time, the opponent had a reply.

Middle Tennessee kicker Alan Gendreau delivered a 19-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Blue Raiders to a 32-31 victory over the stunned Terps.

Quarterback Chris Turner completed 19 of 30 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns - both to wideout Torrey Smith. But it wasn’t enough for Maryland to pay back Middle Tennessee for last year’s loss in Murfreesboro.

Cornerback Cameron Chism, who made his first career start in place of injured senior Nolan Carroll, had two interceptions as the Terps rebounded defensively after two rough weeks to open the season. But even improvement won’t be noticed in the aftermath of the Terps’ latest debacle.

Much like a week ago, it was a Nick Ferrara field goal that put the Terps ahead late. This one was from 42 yards, and Ferrara barely got it off after a shaky snap with 6:14 remaining.

The freshman had a chance to make the margin wider but missed another 42-yarder with 90 seconds left. That proved costly, as Middle Tennessee (2-1) easily marched into field goal range and left the Terps perhaps more miserable than it did a year ago.

But ultimately, the close game one way or another was more telling than the actual score. Win or lose, after three games one truth is firmly revealed: Absolutely nothing will come easy for the Terps.

It won’t because of Maryland’s personnel limitations. It won’t because of some ill-placed injuries. It won’t because of a propensity for turnovers.

And it won’t because it simply hasn’t been the Terps’ way for more than five seasons, whether things have ultimately gone well or not.

Saturday, things most decidedly did not.

That much is certain after a seesaw affair that was probably far more gripping than the announced crowd of 43,167 wished to see - though they probably could have anticipated it after Maryland survived an overtime encounter with James Madison a week earlier.

It was a certainty when the Blue Raiders entered the fourth quarter with a lead - one soon erased when Turner connected with Torrey Smith on a 64-yard score down the left side. The Blue Raiders, however, replied with a nine-play touchdown drive, forcing the Terps to come back again.

Maryland’s greatest problems in the first half stemmed from its own inability to value possession. A fluke Turner interception and a Da’Rel Scott fumble both spotted Middle Tennessee the ball inside the Maryland 30. The Blue Raiders promptly deposited a pair of touchdowns, more than happy to exploit their hosts generosity.

Nevertheless, Maryland overcame its three early turnovers to secure a halftime lead. Davin Meggett’s short scoring dive staked the Terps to a 14-13 lead, even though they’d tried so hard to avoid the onus of taking an advantage into the locker room.

Maryland looked far better to begin the second half, with Scott quickly moving the Terps into Middle Tennessee territory. Turner then connected with a wide open Smith on a 37-yard score to bump the edge to 21-13, and it seemed Maryland might have some level of comfort.

Not so fast. The Blue Raiders capitalized on another short field, piecing together a 44-yard touchdown drive to pull within a point. And after a touchdown pass from Dasher to Garrett Andrews was overturned on replay, Gendreau simply trotted on to boot a 27-yard field goal as Middle Tennessee ended the third quarter with a 23-21 lead.

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