for this game

Maryland keeps ACC hopes alive on late field goal

Nov 16, 2008 - 2:13 AM COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (Ticker) -- If Maryland reaches the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game for the first time, Saturday's game-winning march could become known as "The Drive."

Obi Egekeze's 26-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining capped a 19-play possession as the Terrapins rallied for a 17-15 victory over No. 17 North Carolina on Saturday.

"I just try to focus in, block everything out, and just kick like I kick it every day in practice," Egekeze said. "And if you do that, everything will work itself out."

During the march, which consumed 8:43, Maryland (7-3, 4-2 ACC Coastal) converted three third downs and one fourth down when quarterback Chris Turner scrambled for nine yards on 4th-and-5 from the North Carolina 32.

"Chris was extremely poised at the end of the game," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We all knew we were 11 guys with one mission and we had to come out of that drive with some points. Chris really wanted to win this game and he was determined to do it."

Defensive back Jamari McCollough sealed the victory with an interception on North Carolina's ensuing possession.

"It was an unbelievable game and a huge victory for us and our season," Friedgen added. "The kids kept fighting and we made a couple of key plays. I thought our defense played very well, and every time Carolina had an opportunity our defense responded."

The win kept Maryland in control of its own destiny in the Atlantic Division race, as the Terrapins will qualify for the ACC championship game by winning their final two contests.

The Terrapins pulled into a first-place tie with Florida State, which entertains Boston College on Saturday night. Maryland hosts the Seminoles next week.

"We knew that if we could get this win, it could change the trajectory of the season," Turner said. "Hopefully we can just capitalize on this victory and come out and play like we are capable of doing next week against Florida State."

Turner had an unimpressive game Saturday - until the final drive, when he completed a pair of third-down passes to keep alive the Terrapins' hopes.

Overall, Turner completed only 16-of-31 passes for 141 yards with no touchdowns, but he hit Danny Oquendo for six yards on 3rd-and-1 from the Maryland 39. Three plays later, he found Ronnie Tyler for 18 yards on 3rd-and-10.

"The big play was on the fourth down," Friedgen said. "(Turner's) awareness of what the coverage was and what he needed for a first down was a huge play in the game."

Until Egekeze's late field goal, both offenses sputtered in a scoreless second half after the opening half featured four leads changes.

North Carolina (7-3, 3-3 ACC Coastal) grabbed a 15-14 halftime edge on Casey Barth's 28-yard field goal with 4:12 left in the second quarter, but the Tar Heels missed a chance to extend their lead when Barth missed a 28-yarder late in the third quarter.

North Carolina twice had to settle for field goals in the first half after driving inside Maryland's 20-yard line.

"We left a bunch of points on the field," North Carolina quarterback Cameron Sexton said. "We didn't play well. We didn't capitalize when we should have."

The Tar Heels had another chance to increase their lead when Maryland's Josh Portis fumbled at the Terrapins' 33-yard line on the first play of the final period.

However, North Carolina went three-and-out after three incompletions by Sexton, who completed only 10-of-24 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown. The Tar Heels punted despite the favorable field position.

Maryland held the Tar Heels to only 75 yards rushing on 26 carries. Shaun Draughn paced North Carolina with just 46 yards on 13 attempts.

"When you go 1-for-11 on third-down chances, you have got no chance to win a football game," North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. "We struggled offensively. Maryland has a very physical front-seven football team."

Da'Rel Scott rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown for the Terrapins, including an 11-yard run that gave Maryland a 1st-and-goal at the 6 to set up Egekeze's game-winning kick.

North Carolina's loss left the Coastal Division race further jumbled as five teams are within one game of the lead. Miami (4-2) now has sole possession of first place.

"We're not out of it," Sexton added. "We're not worried about it and we won't be worried about it."