Seminoles' 14-game winning streak vs. Terps ends

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Fifth-ranked Florida State was in the process of completing another comeback on the road, and Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen could think of only one course of action.

"I was praying hard," he said. "Our kids played with so much heart, it would have been a shame to lose this game."

The Terrapins held on, and thousands among the sellout crowd of 52,203 charged onto the field Saturday night immediately after the highly improbable 20-17 upset.

Florida State (6-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) came in with a six-game winning streak and a perfect 14-0 record against Maryland (4-4, 2-3), which had scored a total of 17 points in losing three straight conference games.

But the Terrapins got 333 passing yards from maligned quarterback Joel Statham and a solid performance from the defense in defeating a top 10 team for the first time since 1990.

"Nothing lasts forever. You get 14 wins in a row, and it happens when you least expect it," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said.

Florida State trailed 20-10 before Bowden summoned former starting quarterback Chris Rix at the start of the fourth quarter. On his second series, Rix moved FSU to the 35 before a 52-yard field-goal try by Xavier Beitia hit the left crossbar.

On his next drive, Rix threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a 16-yarder to Chauncey Stovall with 7:43 remaining that made it 20-17.

After a Maryland punt, Rix got the Seminoles in position for another field-goal attempt by Beitia, who was wide left on the 45-yard try with 4:45 to go -- his third miss of the game.

"We missed enough field goals to win it," Bowden said. "They made the big plays and we didn't. That was the difference."

Rix got one final chance two minutes later, but his fourth-down pass from the FSU 27 soared over the head of Lome Sam with 1:38 to go.

At game's end, Terrapins fans rushed the field and embraced the players -- but spared the goal posts, which were guarded by police officers.

"To beat the No. 5 team in the nation should be a benchmark for this program," Friedgen said. "I think we can make tremendous strides from this win."

Maryland had never come closer than 14 points against the Seminoles, and it seemed unlikely that the pattern would change during a season in which Statham had struggled enough to put his starting job in jeopardy.

But the sophomore repeatedly pierced the nation's eighth-ranked defense with slant patterns and screen passes, finding seven different receivers in going 21-for-40 with one interception. He threw for one score and ran for another in finally solidifying his stature as the starting quarterback.

"It was just a matter of time before I got my stuff down and played smarter than I have been," he said.

Said Bowden: "They all played better than they had been playing. We hoped they wouldn't wake up."

Florida State starting quarterback Wyatt Sexton went 14-for-30 for 164 yards and two interceptions, and halfback Lorenzo Booker was limited to 51 yards on 13 carries.

Booker played in place of Leon Washington, who has a separated right shoulder. Washington ranks third in the ACC with 689 yards rushing and leads the Seminoles with six touchdowns.

"If we had Leon," Bowden said, "we'd have played a little bit different."

Earlier this season, Florida State rallied to beat Syracuse and Wake Forest on the road. But the Seminoles couldn't duplicate the feat against Maryland.

"I don't know why we've played like did on the road," Bowden said.

Down 13-3 at halftime, the Seminoles sliced into the deficit when Antonio Cromartie returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown with 12:58 left in the third quarter.

But Statham answered with a third-down screen pass to Josh Allen, who weaved his way for a 72-yard score and a 10-point cushion.

Maryland moved 68 yards on its opening drive before Nick Novak kicked a 43-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. Statham went 3-for-3 for 65 yards, including a 39-yarder to Danny Melendez.

Beitia tied it with a 48-yard field goal late in the quarter, six plays after a pass interference call against Maryland's Ray Custis on a third-and-6 play that the Terps questioned.

Novak then ended a 14-play drive with a 45-yard field goal, and Maryland made it 13-3 midway through the second quarter with a drive that featured a 35-yard run by wide receiver Jo Jo Walker.

After Statham completed a 33-yard pass to Vernon Davis on third-and-12, the quarterback ran it in from the 1.

It was only the second rushing touchdown against the Seminoles this season, and it ended a run of 12 straight quarters in which they did not yield an offensive TD.