On a cold, windy evening, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Kernersville, N.C., upstaged an N.C. State team with a lot at stake.
Danny OBrien passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday evening to lift Maryland to a 38-31 win on its senior night and ruin N.C. States hopes of playing in the ACC championship game.
OBrien and Terrapin wide receiver Torrey Smith hooked up for all four passing scores in a seesaw game that resulted in shattered dreams for the Wolfpack. No. 21-ranked N.C. State (8-4, 5-3 ACC) would have advanced to the ACC title game with a win.
But N.C. States loss gave Florida State (9-3, 6-2) Atlantic Division title outright and a berth to Saturdays conference championship game in Charlotte. Tight end George Bryan described N.C. States somber locker room scene after the game.
Nobodys really saying anything, everybodys kind of quiet, I guess, thinking about things they could have done better, Bryan said.
What hurt is that N.C. State had opportunities to make the same kind of plays that lifted the Terrapins (8-4, 5-3) to a win on their senior day.
In the second quarter, T.J. Graham lost a fumble and failed to catch a Russell Wilson pass that caromed off Grahams hands for an Eric Franklin interception that he returned to the N.C. State 3-yard line.
With the score tied 14-14 later in the second quarter, Wilson found Owen Spencer wide open behind the Maryland defense at the 3-yard line, but the ball passed through Spencers arms.
Facing a 24-14, third-quarter deficit, the Wolfpack got Bryan wide open for a score on a misdirection play. Wilson threw behind Bryan, who bobbled the ball twice before losing it off his facemask at the goal line.
When we had the chances, the guys that normally make the plays for us didnt make the plays today, said N.C. State coach Tom OBrien.
Meanwhile, Danny OBrien and Smith made just about every big play all day for the Terrapins. OBrien became the first Maryland quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards since Scott Milanovich did it in 1993.
Smith set a school record with four touchdown receptions and totaled 14 catches for 224 yards. The Maryland offensive line also did an excellent job protecting OBrien against a blitz-happy defense that sacked North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates seven times the previous week.
OBrien passed 47 times and was sacked just twice. Defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy said N.C. States goal was to make Maryland one-dimensional by loading up against the run and forcing the Terrapins to pass.
The Wolfpack did that, holding Maryland to minus-9 rushing yards, but couldnt stop the pass.
We were excited, Sweezy said. We wanted [the division title] and didnt get it. We have to get back to work.
After leading 14-0, N.C. State gave up 38 of the next 41 points to trail 38-17. The Wolfpack scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes with an onside kick sandwiched in between, as Wilson plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out and hit James Washington with a 3-yard scoring pass. But on fourth-and-1 at the Maryland 32 with 48 seconds left, the Terrapins D.J. Adams picked up the first down by the length of one chain link, clinching the win.
Tom OBrien thought Adams was stopped short on the play.
It sure looked like [we stopped them] from where we were, and we were right on the chains, OBrien said. But that was the call and it was confirmed, so I guess it wasnt a stop. We thought we had him stopped, but my opinion doesnt count.
Now N.C. State awaits its bowl destination. That probably wont be decided until after the ACC championship game, but the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta, the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando, the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 31 in Charlotte are possible destinations.
OBrien said the players in the locker room were crushed after they fell with so much at stake.
Its a big disappointment for us because weve been working all year for it, Wilson said. We fought hard and had the opportunity to win at the end, but came up short.
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