Nov. 20, 2010
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The No. 25 Florida State football team has a chance to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game — the Seminoles just have to wait a week before they know whether or not that opportunity becomes a reality.
FSU (8-3, 6-2 ACC) made sure that its name is at least in the league-title discussion with a 30-16 come-from-behind victory Saturday night at Maryland (7-4, 4-3).
Clinging to a one-score lead in the final minute, FSU safety Nick Moody intercepted a Danny O’Brien pass attempt and ran untouched for a 90-yard game-clinching score.
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Coupled with NC State’s win over North Carolina earlier in the day, the thrilling FSU triumph means that a Terrapins win over the Wolfpack this coming weekend would send the ‘Noles to Charlotte for a showdown with Virginia Tech. An NC State win, however, would then result in a Wolfpack-Hokies tilt for the ACC crown.
Offensively, quarterback Christian Ponder returned to the starting lineup after missing the Clemson game with an elbow injury. FSU’s veteran leader threw for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Without starter Jermaine Thomas, who was out with a knee sprain, sophomore Chris Thompson carried the load from the tailback position. Thompson finished the night with 94 yards on eight carrries, including an early 70-yard scoring scamper.
Redshirt junior Bert Reed helped with six catches for 92 yards and one touchdown.
On the defensive end, Moody posted a team-high four tackles and sophomore Brandon Jenkins and Markus White added to the sack totals with a quarterback takedown each.
FSU found itself in a quick 3-0 hole after an opening-possession three-and-out and Maryland offensive drive that resulted in a field goal.
But Thompson erased that as he just as quickly dashed 70 yards on the Seminoles’ first play following the Terrapin 3-pointer. The Greenville, Fla. native found a small crease on the left side of the line and registered what was his seventh play of 25 yards or more on the season.
A few plays later, Jenkins got the ball right back for his offense when he forced a fumble on Maryland’s attempted option play. The ball was scooped up by linebacker Mister Alexander, who returned it 12 yards deep into Terrapins’ territory.
A 37-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal then extended the ‘Noles’ lead to 10-3 before the Terps retied the game with a touchdown midway through the second quarter.
After Maryland took a 13-10 lead towards the end of the opening half, head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles reached in to the bag of tricks. Looking like they were going to kick the ball away on fourth and short, punter Shawn Powell took the snap and flipped it to junior defensive back Mike Harris, who then ran 33 yards into the redzone.
Another Hopkins field goal – this time from 30 yards away – served as the reward for trickeration and it tied the game at 13-13 just before the halftime break.
The Terrapins swung the scoreboard back in their favor after both teams emerged from intermission.
Maryland netted a field goal to go up 16-13 before the FSU offense kicked it into gear. Thanks to Reed’s terrific catch-and-run 44-yard scoring play, the Seminoles recaptured the advantage, 20-16, with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Powell’s punt bounced off the back of a Maryland defender and Alexander came up with his second recovery of the night around the six-minute mark. The remarkable play gave the Seminoles the ball just on the edge of the redzone.
A clutch Hopkins kick from 34 yards then put the visitors on top by a touchdown at 23-16.
On the ensuing drive, the Seminoles forced a fourth-and-one with 1:25 left to play but the Terrapins converted on Florida State’s 22 yard-line. That play was then followed by Moody’s game-sealing interception grab.
The Seminoles now turn their attention to rival Florida, who comes to Tallahassee this Saturday.