Wake Forest stuns Maryland in overtime
Published 2:28 am Sunday, September 23, 2007
By By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest apparently still has a little magic left over from last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship run.
Josh Adams scored on a 6-yard run on the first possession of overtime to help the Demon Deacons cap a stunning 21-point comeback and beat Maryland 31-24 on Saturday, a critical win for a team in dire need of a spark after a tough start to the season.
Alphonso Smith had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter to jumpstart the Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-1 ACC), who were trailing 24-3 before coming up with a rally almost as improbable as last season’s title run.
That’s exactly what the Demon Deacons got from Smith’s momentum-seizing sprint to the end zone. It carried over to everything from Riley Skinner’s unflappable play down the stretch after missing the past two games due to injury to a defense that held the Terrapins (2-2, 0-1) to 1 yard on 18 plays through the fourth quarter and overtime.
When it was over, Wake Forest had earned its second-biggest comeback since 1955, trailing only a rally from 24-0 down in the first half against North Carolina in 2001. And it even had ever-optimistic coach Jim Grobe a little surprised.
Skinner, playing in his first game since separating his shoulder in the opening loss to Boston College, had a 1-yard TD sneak after Smith’s return midway through the fourth, then found John Tereshinski with a 6-yard scoring pass to tie it with 3 seconds left in regulation.
Then, after Adams’ score in overtime, the Demon Deacons closed the game with consecutive sacks. Jeremy Thompson took down Jordan Steffy on fourth down and forced a fumble, and Boo Robinson tackled offensive lineman Edwin Williams after he picked up the ball — a thrilling finish that sent the black-clad Demon Deacons spilling onto the field in celebration.
The win helped the Demon Deacons keep alive their chances of defending the league title, and a loss would have all but dashed those hopes with Boston College and Clemson remaining unbeaten in the Atlantic Division. Instead, it was Maryland heading home knowing it had let a sure win get away with shaky play down the stretch.
Keon Lattimore ran for 112 yards to lead the Terrapins, who also got rushing scores from Lance Ball and Cory Jackson. Lattimore’s 6-yard score gave the Terps the 24-3 lead with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, and they appeared headed for the backbreaking score when they drove to Wake Forest’s 3-yard line late in the period.
But Smith — stuck defending two receivers on a broken coverage — jumped in front of Steffy’s pass for Ball on the left side and raced the length of the field — weaving past Steffy and Danny Oquendo — to revive a listless crowd that had been shedding fans only minutes earlier.
For Steffy, it was a lesson full of disappointment.
Skinner completed 22 of 35 passes for 219 yards with three interceptions, but the redshirt sophomore came up huge down the stretch. He went 10-for-14 for 125 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, and directed the tying 80-yard drive with no timeouts in the final 2 minutes.
Adams finished with 91 yards rushing, 52 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.