No title game for the Wolfpack|N.C. State loses heartbreaker to the Terrapins

Published 8:23 am Sunday, November 28, 2010

By By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Danny O’Brien threw for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns, all to Torrey Smith, and Maryland denied No. 21 North Carolina State a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game by defeating the Wolfpack 38-31 Saturday.
Needing a victory to win the league’s Atlantic Division, North Carolina State (8-4, 5-3) scored touchdowns on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. But the Terrapins (8-4, 5-3) rallied behind O’Brien, who made up for a running game that finished with negative yardage.
North Carolina State ended up in a second-place tie with Maryland behind Florida State, which will face Virginia Tech in the championship game on Dec. 5.
O’Brien, a redshirt freshman, completed 33 of 47 passes in the first 400-yard game by a Terp quarterback since Scott Milanovich in 1993.
Smith had a career-high 14 catches for 224 yards and became the first Maryland player with four touchdown receptions in a single game.
Smith scored on passes of 11, 10, 12 and 71 yards. The last touchdown came with 6:26 left after Maryland’s Drew Gloster sacked Russell Wilson on a fourth-down play from the Maryland 8 with the Terrapins ahead 31-17.
Wilson scored on a 1-yard run with 2:39 remaining. The Wolfpack recovered the onside kick and Wilson threw a TD pass with 1:16 left, but Maryland pounced on the ensuing onside kick.
Wilson went 31 of 60 for 311 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Wolfpack from absorbing their third straight defeat at Maryland since 2004. The Terrapins finished 5-1 at home and can expect to play in a quality bowl game after going 2-10 last year.
A stiff wind heavily influenced the kicking game. In the second quarter, Wolfpack punter Andy Leffler got off a 12-yarder, Maryland’s Travis Baltz misfired on a 37-yard field goal try and N.C. State’s Josh Czajowski had a field goal try blocked.
On the positive side, Baltz had the wind behind him when he kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal to put the Terrapins up 17-14 at halftime.
Maryland made it 24-14 in the third quarter when O’Brien capped an 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Smith, who wriggled free in the left side of the end zone. O’Brien completed four passes on the drive, including three to Smith for 44 yards.
The Wolfpack answered with a 31-yard field goal to end a 13-play drive. But O’Brien completed three straight passes in a 52-drive that ended with another score by Smith, making it 31-17 with 11:46 to go.
All four touchdowns in the first half were scored by the team with the wind at its back.
North Carolina State moved 70 yards on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Wilson completed a 33-yard pass on a third-and-8, scrambled 15 yards to the 4 and scored from the 2.
With his 15-yard run, Wilson joined Johnny Evans as the only Wolfpack quarterbacks with 1,000 career yards rushing.
After Wilson made it 14-0 with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Owen Spencer, the Terrapins closed to 14-7 when O’Brien completed a 35-yard pass to Smith to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by D.J. Adams.
N.C. State’s second turnover in the second quarter — a deflected pass intercepted by Maryland’s Eric Franklin — led to O’Brien’s first touchdown pass to Smith.