Florida State Rolls Past Error-Prone Maryland

Terrapins out of ACC championship game

Now that Florida State has ruined Maryland's hope of earning a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, the Seminoles' chances of playing for the league title rest on the team they humiliated and eliminated.

Everette Brown had 3 1/2 sacks and forced a fumble, part of an overwhelming performance by the Florida State defense in a 37-3 rout of the 22nd-ranked Terrapins on Saturday night.

Florida State (8-3, 5-3) turned two turnovers into touchdowns in taking a 21-0 halftime lead. That was enough to ensure Maryland (7-4, 4-3) its first home loss of the season and ruin the Terrapins' bid to win the league's Atlantic Division.

"I'm not happy because we haven't won anything," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said.

But, unlike Maryland, at least Florida State is still in the running.

If Boston College beats the visiting Terrapins next week, it will win the division and play in the championship game. If Maryland beats Boston College, the Seminoles will capture the division title.

"That could always happen," Bowden said. "They could get fired up next week. You never know."

After honoring the 30 seniors on the team before an enthusiastic crowd of 51,620, Maryland fell flat in its most lopsided loss of the year.

"It just boggles my mind," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We just didn't have it."

The unpredictable Terrapins are 4-0 against Top 25 teams, 3-4 against unranked teams and 0-4 at night.

"I just don't understand how we can play so well one week and so poorly the next," Friedgen said. "When you have that many seniors, a chance to play in the Orange Bowl and in Tampa (for the ACC title), it's just disappointing."

Florida State safety Myron Rolle earned a Rhodes Scholarship with his interview in Birmingham, Ala., then boarded a private plane and joined the team late in the first half. When he entered the game, the Seminoles had a secure three-touchdown lead.

"When we found out that he won Rhodes Scholarship, it was like we got one win already," Bowden said.

Seeking to go 7-0 at home, Maryland wasted two early chances to jump on top. By the time the Terrapins finally scored in the third quarter, on a 34-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze, Florida State was ahead 24-0.

Any chance the Terrapins had of mounting a comeback ended when Da'Rel Scott lost his second fumble with 13:19 left and the Seminoles up 27-3. It was Maryland's fourth turnover -- one more than in its previous three games -- and FSU turned that into a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Christian Ponder.

"We finally put a game together," Bowden said.

Ponder went 19-for-24 for 143 yards and led the Seminoles with 81 yards rushing.

"Our quarterback was hot tonight, their quarterback was not," Bowden said, referring to Maryland's Chris Turner (16-for-30, 149 yards, two interceptions).

The Seminoles had six sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles in improving to 17-2 in this lopsided rivalry.

"We did a better job tonight of attacking, playing Florida State football," Brown said. "Tonight we just wanted to make sure we attacked and controlled the line of scrimmage up front."

On their first possession, the Terrapins moved to the Florida State 30 before a sack by Brown took them out of field goal range. Then, after forcing a punt, Maryland moved from its 39 to the FSU 27 before Egekeze missed a 44-yard field goal try.

Following those two close calls, the Seminoles put together a 16-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to Preston Parker. Ponder passed for 26 yards and ran for 28 more during the march.

"It was big because teams come out and go up 10-0 on us all the time," Parker said. "But once we're ahead and we get the edge, it gives us more energy to go out there and just keep putting points on the board."

Later in the second quarter, Brown forced a fumble by Scott and Florida State's Derek Nicholson scooped up the loose ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Another turnover led to another touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 1:35 left in the half. Turner's second interception of the game, this one by Toddrick Verdell, was returned 34 yards to the Maryland 38. Four plays later, Antone Smith ran in from the 1.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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