Blowout by Seminoles ends postseason hopes
Noon starts at Byrd Stadium in November can be cruel for the home team. While players on the opposing sideline bask in the sun throughout, Maryland's players shiver in the shadows from the opening kickoff.
In a 41-14 loss to No. 10 Florida State on Saturday, the difference on the sidelines was even more pronounced. As the powerful Seminoles clinched the ACC Atlantic Division crown and a trip to Charlotte, N.C., for the conference title game, the injury-riddled Terrapins lost for the fifth straight time and saw their once-promising bowl hopes officially expire before 35,244.
While Florida State (10-1, 7-1) contemplates a potential trip to the Orange Bowl, Maryland (4-7, 2-5) will be home for the holidays for the second straight year.
On a day when the Terps honored their 17 seniors, there was little inspiration on the Maryland sideline. The Terps were down 14-0 before they executed their first snap and 27-0 before they ran their first play from Seminoles territory. By then, the game was 32 minutes old.
The only warmth was provided by sideline heaters and two of Maryland's most respected seniors. Linebacker Kenny Tate, plagued by injuries the last two years, had three sacks. Wideout Kevin Dorsey, talented but forgotten because of the Terps' struggles on offense, had touchdown catches of 33 and 42 yards in his final home game.
"Good things happen to good people," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "It was nice to see him get those two touchdown catches."
In a thorough romp, Florida State outgained Maryland 397 yards to 170, outrushed the Terps 237 to 34 and had 21 first downs to 10 for Maryland.
It was another example of the futility of Maryland after losing its fourth and last remaining quarterback to a season-ending injury. Freshman linebacker Shawn Petty, the Terps' emergency quarterback, had no chance against the nation's total defense leader.
The left-hander fumbled once, was sacked five times and completed eight of 19 passes for 136 yards. In the three games Petty has started, Maryland faced deficits of 27-0 (Georgia Tech), 28-0 (Clemson) and 27-0 (Florida State).
"We can't look back at injuries," Edsall said. "It is what it is. We are who we are."
The first six minutes were an indication that any Maryland bowl thoughts were fruitless. On the opening possession, two false start penalties were no impediment to the Seminoles, who drove 61 yards on 11 plays, repeatedly gashing the Terps' front seven with gains between the tackles.
After Devonta Freeman's 5-yard touchdown run, Maryland freshman Levern Jacobs fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was recovered by Florida State's Toshmon Stevens. On the next play, ACC player of the year candidate EJ Manuel threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick O'Leary, and the rout was on.
It was a rough way to say goodbye to Byrd for players such as Tate, who had such high hopes for the season but watched it spiral out of control as each quarterback went down.
"This is a winning team," Tate said. "Our record doesn't show that. We didn't reach what we wanted to accomplish, but we've definitely grown. There's always a lesson in winning. Come back next year and you'll see the difference."