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October 29, 2005

Noles top Terps with fourth quarter rally

Game Stats

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Drew Weatherford used his arm and his legs to engineer a comeback.

Weatherford threw for a touchdown and ran for another to help No. 10 Florida State erase a 10-point second half deficit and storm back for a 35-27 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over pesky Maryland.

Fabulous freshman Greg Carr caught another TD pass for the Seminoles (7-1, 5-1 ACC Atlantic), who squandered an early 14-point lead and were flustered by a backup quarterback but regrouped and remained on pace for an appearance in the conference title game.

"When I look back over my 52 years of coaching, certain games were really exciting and that one would probably be in my top five," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "We were fortunate enough to win. We never had that thing nailed down We won the first quarter, they won the second, the third was probably even and we won the fourth."

Weatherford was not flawless, throwing a pair of second half interceptions to help dig the hole. But the redshirt freshman completed 27-of-37 passes for 264 yards and showed the leadership to rally the Seminoles.

"I made a couple mistakes and they never got down on me," Weatherford said, "they stuck right by me and we got it done."

Once again, he hooked up with Carr, the 6-6 wideout who has spent nearly the entire season in the end zone. His four-yard TD catch was his ninth of the season and cut the deficit to 24-21 midway through the third quarter.

Weatherford's second interception, which bounced off the hands of running back Lorenzo Booker, led to a 35-yard field goal by Daniel Ennis with 13:03 to play. Undeterred, Weatherford marched the Seminoles to the go-ahead score just over four minutes later.

Receivers Chris Davis and Carr drew interference penalties against cornerback Gerrick McPhearson before Weatherford's 15-yard scoring scramble on a 3rd-and-13 play.

After a juggling interception by FSU linebacker Ernie Sims, Booker ran five straight times before James Coleman banged in from the one for a 35-27 advantage with 5:33 to go. On Maryland's final drive, Joel Statham, a junior who had thrown just six passes all season, converted one on fourth down but was tackled by linebacker A.J. Nicholson on another.

However, the biggest play on the drive might have been a stop by Brodrick Bunkley. With Maryland facing a third and one from FSU's 34-yard line with a little under a minute to play, the senior defensive tackle from Tampa blasted through the line and tackled tailback Lance Ball for a four-yard loss.

"I could tell by the way the center was leaning they were going to run and come off hard and it got them in trouble," Bunkley said. "I figured they were going to try to get the first and most likely it was going to be a running play."

Statham threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another as the Terrapins (4-4, 2-2 ACC Atlantic) nearly overcame the loss of injured starting quarterback Sam Hollenbach. Lance Ball had 120 yards on 21 carries for Maryland.

Florida State had won the first 14 meetings until last year's 20-17 loss at Maryland. The Seminoles started as if they were going to run the Terps out of Doak Campbell Stadium. A fumble recovery by Sims on Maryland's first possession set up Leon Washington's three-yard TD run, and Willie Reid made it 14-0 early in the second period by returning a punt 61 yards for a score, zipping up the middle and breaking left.

"It opened up like new money," Reid said of the hole he saw on the punt return. "I got real excited because it opened up real wide."

Even though he is sixth in all-time punt return yards at FSU, passing Corey Sawyer on Saturday, that was his first career return for a touchdown. Reid also led the 'Noles in receptions with seven catches for 90 yards.

"We knew what was at stake tonight," Reid said. "We knew we couldn't fulfill our destiny of going to Jacksonville if we didn't get this game."

Meanwhile, Hollenbach lasted just five plays before leaving for good. But after an 0-of-4 start, Statham found his rhythm, directing four straight scoring drives as FSU looked lazy, then confused. He finished 15-of-29 with one interception.

After sneaking in for a score, Statham beat a blitz with a lob down the right sideline to Derrick Fenner, who hauled it in for a 29-yard TD catch that tied it, 14-14, with 2:24 left in the first half.

Maryland forced a three-and-out and Statham struck again, using the two-minute offense and finding JoJo Walker with a 20-yard scoring strike over the middle that silenced the crowd and sent FSU to the locker room with a deficit.

The Seminoles began the second half with two penalties before Weatherford was picked off by linebacker William Kershaw, setting up a 40-yard field goal by Ennis.

Potions of summary by SportsTicker



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