3:30 PM ET, October 9, 2004
Byrd Stadium, COLLEGE PARK, MD
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Ralph Friedgen had just gone through two quarterbacks and watched No. 23 Maryland muster only 81 yards in offense in an unexpected home loss to Georgia Tech.
The coach was pressed to remember ever seeing another game quite like it.
"Our offense was inept. That was maybe one of the worst offensive performances I've ever been associated with," he said. "It's the worst we played in a long time."
Maryland's 13-game home winning streak ended in stunning fashion Saturday, as Georgia Tech blanked Maryland through three quarters and forced out ineffective quarterback Joel Statham in a 20-7 victory.
Reggie Ball threw for 197 yards and a touchdown to help the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap a two-game losing streak. It's been an erratic season for Georgia Tech, which also defeated then-No. 18 Clemson but lost to lowly North Carolina.
"This game was make-or-break for our season," Tech linebacker Chris Reis said. "We needed to come out and get our confidence back up. The defense stepped up to the plate, we played real well and got a win."
The Terrapins (3-2, 1-1) were undefeated at home since September 2002 and 21-1 at Byrd Stadium since Friedgen took over the program in 2001.
"To play like we did tonight is very disheartening," Friedgen said. "I told the kids last night that it would be a real test to see where we are. If this is where we are, we're in trouble."
Statham came in leading the ACC in total offense and had received complete support from Friedgen despite his seven interceptions and propensity to fumble. But the frustrated coach removed the struggling quarterback in the third quarter with Maryland trailing 20-0.
"Joel just couldn't do anything right," Friedgen said. "We just felt like we needed a lift."
True freshman Jordan Steffy directed a scoring drive that made it 20-7 with 11:28 left, but that was the extent of the damage that Maryland could inflict on a defense that was surrendering an average of 23 points per game.
"I don't think I can ever say enough about the defensive effort tonight," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "They moved it a little bit the first couple of times they had the ball, and then after that we kept them off balance."
Statham went 6-for-14 for 36 yards. Steffy was 5-for-9 for 38 yards and showed enough poise to at least warrant consideration as a starter next week.
"I don't know if he's ready for that yet or not," said Friedgen, adding that he probably won't announce his decision until Tuesday.
The Terrapins stumbled on offense and their defense had no answer for Ball, whose starting job was believed to be in jeopardy after he threw three interceptions last week in a 27-3 loss to Miami.
Ball completed 11 of 22 passes, ran for 43 yards and coolly directed an offense that did not commit a single turnover.
He received ample support from P.J. Daniels, who gained 91 yards rushing on 26 attempts. Daniels ran for 51 yards on three carries and scored from the 12 during a 65-yard drive that made it 17-0 with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
A 26-yard pass from Ball to Nate Curry set up a field goal by Travis Bell for a 20-0 lead.
Maryland senior Steve Suter set the ACC record for career punt return yards (1,212). He returned three punts for 24 yards to pass Ledel George of North Carolina State, who had 1,191 yards from 1990-93.
"I would have traded it in for a win and put it off until next week gladly," Suter said.
Georgia Tech ran up a 201-66 advantage in offensive yardage and took a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Josh Allen ran for 28 yards on Maryland's first play from scrimmage, but the promising drive ended with Nick Novak missing a 44-yard field-goal try.
Neither team threatened again until early in the second quarter, when Bell kicked an apparent 45-yard field goal. But Georgia Tech was called for an illegal shift and subsequently punted.
On their next series, however, the Yellow Jackets took a 7-0 lead. Ball used two completions to Devon Thomas totaling 50 yards to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to Curry.
Georgia Tech made it 10-0 late the half when Bell kicked a 19-yard field goal after freshman Calvin Johnson made a sensational catch for a 44-yard gain to the Maryland 6.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-16||2-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-2|
|TD||6:44||NATE CURRY 11 YD PASS FROM REGGIE BALL (TRAVIS BELL KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yards.
|FG||1:25||TRAVIS BELL 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||10:06||P.J. DANIELS 12 YD RUN (TRAVIS BELL KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 65 yards.
|FG||2:27||TRAVIS BELL 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 33 yards.
|TD||11:28||SAMMY MALDONADO 2 YD RUN (NICK NOVAK KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 63 yards.