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Maryland escapes "Death Valley" with ACC hopes alive

Nov 4, 2006 - 8:58 PM CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Maryland managed to keep its Atlantic Coast Conference title hopes alive in "Death Valley."

After watching 19th-ranked Clemson take the lead aided by a controversial call and a long scoring drive, Maryland responded with a drive of its own and a 13-12 victory on a 31-yard field goal by Dan Ennis as time expired.

Entering Saturday one of three teams tied for the lead in the ACC Atlantic Division, the Terrapins still have a share of the lead thanks to quarterback Sam Hollenbach and Ennis.

After Jad Dean kicked his fourth field goal of the game, a 22-yarder with 2:29 to play, Hollenbach led the Terrapins on an 11-play, 52-yard march.

Hollenbach, who completed 23-of-34 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception, was 5-of-6 for 48 yards on the game-winning drive. He also ran for five yards on 4th-and-inches from the Clemson 43 with just over one minute to play.

"He played really good football and I'm happy with him right now," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's been comfortable the last three games. He's been composed, and the game is slowing down for him."

Maryland (7-2, 4-1 ACC Atlantic) remained tied with Wake Forest, which defeated Boston College, 21-14, later Saturday.

"I told them they just won the first round of the playoffs," Friedgen said. "This is a very big win for us. Two of our next three games are at home and we're just starting to get better."

Clemson (7-3, 4-3 Atlantic) has lost two straight and has not scored a touchdown since the first quarter of a 24-7 setback to Virginia Tech on October 27.

The Terrapins looked like they were going to add two points to their 10-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Clemson quarterback Will Proctor was stripped at the 17. The ball rolled back to the goal line, where it appeared Tigers true freshman running back C.J. Spiller recovered for a safety.

After reviewing the play, officials ruled Spiller gathered the ball just outside the goal line, and the Tigers took advantage of the second chance. On 3rd-and-19 from the 1, Proctor hit tight end Thomas Hunter for 71 yards, setting up Dean's short field goal.

But the Tigers could not stop the Terps on their final drive, ending any chance they had of winning the division.

"This is a tough one to take," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I think we had one penalty, no turnovers, 400 yards of offense and we lost the game."

Maryland would have needed more than a field goal to win, but an illegal procedure penalty on Clemson negated a four-yard TD run by James Davis with four minutes to play.

"We had one penalty the whole game and it was quite costly and came at a very bad time," Bowden said. "When you can't score when you are inside the red zone, someone has to make a long run or break away for a long catch, and right now we are not doing that."

For most of the game, the Terrapins did a good job limiting Davis and Spiller and forcing Proctor to make plays to keep the offense moving.

Proctor was 18-of-27 for 251 yards. But 71 came on the pass to Hunter and another 60 on a pass to Chansi Stuckey on the Tigers' first offensive play, which helped set up Dean's first field goal.

Davis rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries, including a 42-yard run. Spiller had 41 yards on nine rushes.

"We ate blocks and we tackled better and that was important," Friedgen said. "I watched them on tape and have an appreciation for those players and their offense."

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