Terps lose a heartbreaker in Tallahassee, 29-26

November 21, 2009 | Luke Jones

Today’s meeting with Florida State was set up to be a complete disaster for Maryland.

It was Senior Day and Mickey Andrews’ last game in Tallahassee. The Seminoles were fired up to wear their horrendous new alternate uniforms. An inexperienced quarterback was making his first start on the road (second overall) for a 2-8 team with nothing to play for nearing the end of a miserable season. You would be hard-pressed finding a single Terps fan who believed Maryland had much of a chance in this one.

It looked like it’d be a blowout.

Instead, the Terps gave one of their more impressive efforts of the year.

And still lost a heartbreaker.

The 29-26 loss is unquestionably disappointing after having the lead inside the final minute, but it was a gutsy effort from which the Terps can take some positives.

Jamarr Robinson played as well as you could possibly expect, completing 20 of 27 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown pass to Adrian Cannon. The young quarterback looked more confident throwing the ball, displaying a very strong arm, and did not wilt under the pressure of the Tallahassee crowd.

With Chris Turner’s college career wrapping up next week, Robinson’s performance provides hope for spring practice when he’ll compete with highly-touted freshman Danny O’Brien for the starting job in 2010.

The running game was revitalized with the return of Da’Rel Scott. After missing five games with a broken wrist, the junior returned to rush for 83 yards on 19 carries. Davin Meggett added two touchdown runs and 59 yards, as the Terps rushed for a season-high 196 yards. An offensive line filled with underwhelming talent played as well as it had all season long.

The defense was opportunistic, and at times downright aggressive, picking off three passes from Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. Alex Wujciak’s interception and 82-yard return late in the first half led to a Terrapins touchdown and completely changed the complexion of the game, narrowing the score to 14-13 at halftime.

But when it really counted, the Terps couldn’t get it done.

Following a Cameron Chism interception with 3:26 remaining, the Maryland offense needed one or two first downs to seal an improbable road victory against the Seminoles. Instead the Terps went three-and-out.

Needing good punt coverage—or to at least punt the ball out-of-bounds—the Terps surrendered a 48-yard return by Nick Reid, setting up Florida State at the Maryland 44 with 2:31 remaining.

And needing to make one more big play, the defense allowed Florida State to score with little resistance. A Lonnie Pryor 3-yard push into the end zone with 32 seconds remaining gave the Seminoles the 29-26 victory.

These Maryland players—kids—have had a very difficult season and were hungry for a victory. And, today, they played like it.

Ultimately, this 2-9 football team played as well as it had all season long and still lost on the road to a .500 opponent.  It’s an effort to be proud of considering the current season and state of the program, but it simply wasn’t good enough.

Just like it hasn’t been all year.

Check out the box score here and the live blog below.

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3:13 p.m. — Is this loss disappointing? Absolutely.

Should you be proud of the effort? No question.

There are no moral victories, but if you told me the Terps would be leading late in the fourth quarter and come up painfully short against Florida State, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Back a little later with my post-game thoughts.

3:11 p.m. — Robinson cannot find anyone rolling out to the right and has to throw it away.

Fourth-and-10 for the Terps.

Robinson completes to Cannon and after a series of laterals, this one painfully comes to an end.

Maryland loses a heartbreaker, 29-26.

3:09 p.m. — Robinson throws high to Cannon who was open on the play. 0:15 to go now.

3:08 p.m. — Patrick Robinson with another great defensive play.

It’s not looking good for the Turtles.

3:06 p.m. — Bobby Bowden wouldn’t be dumb enough to kick to Torrey Smith here would he?

He was, but Smith with too much east-west running there.

Only 0:25 remaining and the Terps are at their own 25.

3:05 p.m. — The call is confirmed and Maryland trails, 29-26, with 0:32 remaining.

Heartbreaking.

3:03 p.m. — Pryor scores with 0:32 remaining in the game.

After the defense made big plays all day long, it cannot get it done after the big return.

3:01 p.m. — Manuel takes it all the way to the 10. On the next play, he completes to Easterling down to the 4.

Can the D make one more big play?

3:00 p.m. — You simply cannot allow that to happen. Reid with the huge return to the Maryland 45.

2:58 p.m. — Facing a big 3rd-and-8 from the 50, Robinson attempts to run right and is stopped far short of the first.

Really needed more out of that drive has Florida State will still have two minutes to work with when they get the ball back.

2:55 p.m. — On 3rd-and-3, Cam Chism with the HUGE interception for the Terps! Maryland will take over with 2:57 remaining!

2:50 p.m. — Robinson is 19-for-23 for 181 yards through the air. Very efficient.

Very nice balance in the offense today with the running game really setting the tone here in the second half.

2:49 p.m. — Facing 3rd-and-1, Meggett runs straight ahead and he’s in for the 9-yard touchdown. Maryland is back on top!

We will, however, have a review to determine if Meggett got in the end zone. This one will hold up.

Maryland leads Florida State, 26-22. What a tremendous effort today.

2:46 p.m. — Meggett is close to another first down for the Terps, finding a seam in the Florida State defense. This has been a VERY impressive, physical drive for the Terps.

Maryland has rushed for 185 yards today.

2:44 p.m. — Working from the shotgun, Robinson hands to Meggett and he runs off right tackle for a big gain, moving the chains again for the Terps who are now in Seminoles’ territory. Meggett’s having a really nice game after struggling for most of the season.

On the next play, Scott finds the right corner for a huge gain. The Terps are now inside the red zone.

2:42 p.m. — On a huge 3rd-and-8 play, Florida State brings the blitz and Robinson takes off and appears to have the first down.

Not sure about that spot, as they’ll measure. Regardless of whether it was a bad mark, the Terps still have the first down.

2:39 p.m. — On 3rd-and-3, Robinson runs the draw and picks up the first down. I’m really impressed with his play today. It’s not easy playing in a hostile environment in your second career start, but the sophomore has held his own.

2:37 p.m. — The offense needs to pick up the Maryland defense after the last score. The D has made plays all day to set up the offense, so it’s time for Franklin’s unit to return the favor.

Robinson carries for six yards on first down. Still 10 minutes to play in this one.

2:35 p.m. — You’ve got to be kidding me.

Bert Reed gets the ball and makes Terrell Skinner look like he was on roller skates on his way to a touchdown.

The two-point conversion is good, and Florida State is up, 22-19.

2:31 p.m. — Credit the Maryland offense for taking advantage of the Florida State mistakes. The Terps have scored 13 points off the Seminoles’ two interceptions.

2:27 p.m. — Adrian Cannon is an athlete. He takes the short pass from Robinson, breaks a tackle, and takes it 20 yards for the touchdown!

Maryland goes for two points. The pass goes off Scott’s hands and big Bruce Campbell makes the catch, but the conversion is no good.

Maryland leads, 19-14.

This has been a fun one to watch, no doubt.

2:24 p.m. — On 3rd-and-13, Robinson throws an absolute STRIKE to LaQuan Williams, though the receiver was wide open over the middle.

On the next play, the Terps run play-action and Robinson keeps it for a first-own run.

This is getting exciting, isn’t it?

2:22 p.m. — What more could you ask for in this one than the Terps trailing by 1 entering the fourth quarter?

It’s been a long season, but Maryland fans should be proud of today’s effort.

2:20 p.m. — The defense comes up with another big play. Skinner picks off Manuel, breaking in front of Bert Reed on the pass play.

On first down, Meggett runs right like a battering ram for a first down. That was some attitude there.

2:15 p.m. — I’m very impressed with the Maryland defense today. Despite the hiccup on the option play to Lonnie Pryor for seven points in the first half, Don Brown’s unit has played well on the road.

2:12 p.m. — Meggett gets the first down. That was a MAJOR risk going for it there, but with a 2-8 record, why not?

Robinson then throws into double coverage trying to find Smith in the end zone. Not a good decision to throw that with the other Robinson covering.

On 3rd-and-11, Robinson finds Ronnie Tyler but the receiver slips and is far short of the first down. Disappointing end to the drive after a big fourth-down conversion.

2:07 p.m. — LaQuan Williams with a tremendous catch to set up a 3rd-and-1 situation.

Scott is stopped short on the running play. You have to wonder if his conditioning is a factor at this point with him missing the last five games. Scott has 14 carries for 54 yards in the game.

Maryland will go for it. Robinson with a great hard count but Phil Costa DID NOT snap the ball when the FSU defender jumped into the neutral zone. Crucial mistake, and it costs the Terps a chance for the first down.

2:05 p.m. — A big completion to Smith moves the chains for the Terps on third down.

The speedy receiver then gets the ball on the next play and goes nowhere. Patrick Robinson played that one extremely well.

2:03 p.m. — Make no mistake, the main problem to plague the Terps’ running game this season is the lack of talent on the offensive line, but Scott has the unique ability to make the group look much better, something Meggett and freshman Caleb Porzel have not been able to do this season.

1:59 p.m. — Great play by Moten on the third-down pass. That’s exactly how the defense needed to answer after the unfortunate turnover.

Maryland takes over at its own 20 following the turnover.

1:57 p.m. — Florida State takes over after the turnover. A promising drive to start the second half falls apart due to a turnover.

We’ve heard this story before this year, haven’t we?

1:56 p.m. — I’m back after doing my report on Section 410.

1:33 p.m. — QUICK PLUG: I’ll be joining Eric Aaronson on Section 410 momentarily to break down the first half and also discuss the early success of the Maryland basketball team.

Listen on AM 1570 WNST or online at WNST.net!

1:24 p.m. — Thomas picks up some nice yardage on the last play of the half.

Florida State leads Maryland, 14-3.

1:21 p.m. — Touchdown, Maryland! Meggett bulls straight ahead for the 1-yard touchdown.

What a huge momentum shift heading into halftime.

Florida State leads Maryland, 14-13.

1:18 p.m. — Two straight runs produce next to nothing.

On third down, Robinson runs to the 1 but cannot make it in the end zone.

Go for it here. Timeout, Maryland.

1:17 p.m. — ALEX WUJCIAK with the HUGE interception, setting up the Terps inside the 10-yard line. That was a big-time play.

Too bad he couldn’t score, however.

1:15 p.m. — The Maryland defense suddenly looks back on its heels after looking much more aggressive prior to the last touchdown drive.

Jamari McCollough with very soft coverage on Forston, but Manuel doesn’t find him soon enough.

1:13 p.m. — Who was supposed to be covering Taiwan Easterling there?

1:10 p.m. — Robinson throws the throwback screen to Devonte Campbell, and that CLEARLY didn’t work. His blocking was far too slow getting out in front.

Ferrara hits another field goal, and it’s 14-6. Settling for field goals will not get it done.

1:08 p.m. — Nice throw by Smith rolling out to his right. If he can throw on the run, he becomes a much more dangerous quarterback.

Nice to see the aggressive play-calling after falling behind by two scores.

1:05 p.m. — Torrey Smith with another HUGE play this year, but he’s tripped up by…himself, preventing the touchdown.

Terps need seven points on this drive. I know I wasn’t a math major in college, but trading field goals for touchdowns won’t get it done.

1:04 p.m. — This is danger time for the Terrapins. A Jamarr Robinson-led offense is not suited to playing from behind, and the Terps now find themselves down by 11 points.

Maryland has been committed to the run in the first half.

1:02 p.m. — Manuel with the play-action fake and finds Fortson for a big gain. Chism was right there in coverage but couldn’t pick up the football and then misses the tackle on top of that.

And on the next play, Manuel runs the option to PERFECTION. Pitching at the last moment to Lonnie Pryor who takes it 54 yards for the touchdown. Tommie Frazier would have been proud of that one.

I was just going to say that Maryland had played the option well so far today, but nevermind.

Seminoles lead, 14-3.

12:57 p.m. — With a 3rd-and-4, Robinson tries to pick up the first running to the right side, but he’s a couple yard short.

Ferrara comes on to attempt a 44-yarder. It’s good, and Maryland is on the scoreboard.

Nice drive for the Terps.

12:55 p.m. — On 3rd-and-1, Meggett rushes straight ahead for the first down.

The Terps are driving now after a quick completion to Smith pushes the Terps inside the FSU 30.

12:49 p.m. — Wow. Tremendous tackle by Darin Drakeford who drove Reed right into the ground on the reverse when it looked like the receiver would find the corner to move the sticks.

That’s how you get off the field on third down!

12:45 p.m. — We’ve reached the end of the first quarter in Tallahassee. Florida State leads the Terps, 7-0.

12:43 p.m. — That was a BEAUTIFUL throw by Robinson. Smith has to make that catch. He didn’t track the ball well at all on that long throw.

On the next play, the pressure forces an errant throw to Scott coming out of the backfield.

Definitely a missed opportunity there. You have to take advantage of every one you get on the road.

12:41 p.m. — I do like the idea of establishing the run, but the offensive line actually has to block in order for it to work.

A nice screen to Scott gives the Terps their first first down of the afternoon.

12:39 p.m. — Torrey Smith with his best Jermaine Thomas impersonation on the return, but no harm done for the Terps.

I still wonder why teams even bother to kick the ball to Smith. Frank Beamer certainly wanted no part of the speedy return man last week.

12:36 p.m. — Despite fumbling the ball, Thomas has it bounce right back to him as he scores around the left corner.

That’s a perfect example of how this season has gone for the Terps. Not only have they been bad, but they’ve also been unlucky.

12:31 p.m. — The defense isn’t playing poorly, but it hasn’t been able to get off the field on third down this drive. Skinner had nice coverage, but Manuel stuck the ball right where he needed to.

Florida State will have 1st-and-goal from the Maryland 1.

12:30 p.m. — Adrian Moten and Antwine Perez played the screen extremely well.

Manuel connects with Rod Owens for the first-down completion. Florida State within striking distance after the long punt return.

12:26 p.m. — Nike’s new technology: Make our schools look absolutely ridiculous.

Manuel with a very nice throw to Bert Reed despite a VICIOUS hit by Skinner.

12:25 p.m. — Despite the intimidation factor of playing in Tallahassee, you’re not going to find Peter Boulware or Derrick Brooks back there. The Seminoles have struggled immensely, so the Terps should be able to do some things offensively.

Will it be enough though?

Maryland seems committed to running the ball early with Scott getting a couple touches, but the Terps are completely stuffed on their first drive.

12:19 p.m. — Great coverage by Cam Chism on 3rd-and-long. Despite the struggles and injuries to the secondary this season, the sophomore has played very well filling in for senior Nolan Carroll.

We’ll get our first look at Robinson and the offense momentarily.

12:17 p.m. — Florida State decides to decline the offside penalty and go for it on 4th-and-1. Not sure I’d do the same thing, but the Seminoles are playing at home.

After Jermaine Thomas is initially stopped, he bounces outside and picks up the first. Great interior push, but the speed on the edge was too much.

12:15 p.m. — Alex Wujciak played the option very well, as the Noles have run two option plays for a total of 1 yard. That’s the effort they’ll need on the road.

On the next play, Wujciak with great coverage on Jarmon Fortson, forcing the incompletion.

Despite the struggles of the defense this season, Wujciak has been outstanding with a team-high 113 tackles entering today’s game.

12:13 p.m. — Maryland kicks off to begin the game. It’s imperative that the defense gets off to a good start in this one. The Terps have had a bad habit of falling behind early on the road this season and never recovering.

Terrell Skinner comes up from his safety position very nicely to bring down E.J. Manuel on the option run for no gain.

12:08 p.m. — Though Florida State has struggled this season, creating much speculation on the future of Bobby Bowden, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Noles fired up for Senior Day and the pending retirement of long-time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Maryland’s Jamarr Robinson will get his second career start at quarterback after rushing for 129 yards against Virginia Tech in last week’s loss. It’s hard to envision the Terps remaining competitive in this game unless Robinson can produce more in the passing game.

12:00 p.m. — It will be interesting to see how Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin handle the return of Da’Rel Scott today. Despite missing five games, the junior tailback is still the Terps leading rusher.

Unfortunately, that’s more of an indictment on the state of the offensive line than it is a compliment to Scott.

Florida State is wearing all-garnet (maroon) uniforms and black helmets. Very unusual to see the Noles in these alternates. Maryland will wear their white jerseys with red pants.

11:51 a.m. — We’re a few minutes away from this afternoon’s battle between the Maryland Terrapins (2-8) and Florida State Seminoles (5-5) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

I’m relaxing in the WNST Studio on Hart Road in Towson for the game, and I’ll be posting my thoughts throughout the afternoon. The Terps WILL be televised for only the fourth time this season. The game will be broadcast by Raycom on WJZ-13 in Baltimore. Tim Brant and Doc Walker will have the call from Tallahassee.

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