Maryland's Danny O'Brien (5) looks to pass against N.C. State. ETHAN HYMAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – On a cold, windy evening, Maryland redshirt quarterback Danny O’Brien and junior wide receiver Torrey Smith picked apart N.C. State’s defense and ended the Wolfpack’s hopes of playing in the ACC championship game.
O’Brien passed for 417 yards and five touchdowns, and Smith caught 14 passes for 224 yards with a school-record four touchdown receptions as the Terrapins defeated No. 21-ranked N.C. State 38-31 at Byrd Stadium.
N.C. State (8-4, 5-3 ACC) needed to win to secure a spot in the ACC championship game, and raced out to a 14-0, first-quarter lead with the wind at its back in the first quarter.
But Maryland scored 38 of the next 41 points, and the Wolfpack offense struggled after rumbling to touchdowns on its first two drives. Trailing 38-17, N.C. State scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes with an onside kick sandwiched in between, as Russell Wilson plunged over from 1 yard out and hit James Washington with a 3-yard pass. But on fourth-and-1 with 48 seconds left, D.J. Adams picked up the first down by the length of one chain link, clinching the win.
Dropped passes caused much of the damage to N.C. State.
Late in the second quarter, Wilson found Owen Spencer wide open behind the Maryland defense at the 3-yard line, but Spencer couldn’t haul in the pass. N.C. State had to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt by Josh Czajkowski that was blocked.
The Terrapins then rushed into position for a career-long, 52-yard field goal by Travis Baltz 12 seconds before halftime that gave them the lead for good at 17-14.
In the third quarter, a misdirection play left tight end George Bryan wide open for a score. Wilson threw behind Bryan, who bobbled the ball twice before losing it off his facemask.
Meanwhile, O’Brien and Smith were staging their own highlight video for the Terrapins. Maryland’s offensive line did a good job protecting O’Brien from a blitzing defense that had sacked North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates seven times the previous week. O’Brien found Smith for scoring passes of 11, 10, 12 and 71 yards.
As a result of N.C. State’s loss, the Wolfpack tied Maryland for second place in the ACC Atlantic Division. Florida State, which is 6-2 in ACC play, won the division outright and will meet Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game on Saturday in Charlotte. N.C. State had held the tiebreaker advantage over Florida State.
N.C. State won the opening coin toss, chose to defer to the second half and opened with the wind at its back, with excellent results.
J.R. Sweezy’s third-and-1 tackle behind the line of scrimmage got the Wolfpack the ball quickly, and N.C. State drove 70 yards for a touchdown on a 1-yard, Russell Wilson plunge.
A Maryland pass on fourth-and-5 from the Wolfpack 34 was ruled incomplete, and Wilson again drove N.C. State quickly down the field. He hit Owen Spencer for 18 yards on third-and-13, and later passed 15 yards to Spencer for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
But the Wolfpack didn’t score a touchdown again until just 2 minutes, 39 seconds remained.