COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Playing on a wet field, facing a tough North Carolina defense and starting 82 yards from the end zone, Maryland desperately needed a score to keep alive its run of success against ranked teams.
Chris Turner made it happen, engineering a dramatic 19-play drive that provided the Terrapins with a 17-15 victory over the No. 16 Tar Heels on Saturday.
Obi Egekeze kicked a 26-yard field goal with 1:42 left to cap a 73-yard march that lasted nearly 9 minutes and produced the only points of the second half.
"We were just determined to get it in. Our defense was playing great, and we knew it was our opportunity," Maryland guard Jaimie Thomas said. "We were 11 guys on one mission. We knew to had to come out with points to win this game."
An 18-yard completion from Turner to Ronnie Tyler on a third-and-11 from the Maryland 44 helped, but the key was an impromptu 9-yard run by Turner on a fourth-and-5 at the Carolina 32.
"They had us all covered in that situation and I didn't expect Chris to run," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said. "It was his awareness, not only what the coverage was but also what he needed for the first down."
North Carolina linebacker Mark Paschal said, "We played them right for the entire second half, but we just couldn't get them off the field on that last drive."
Da'Rel Scott ran for 129 yards and a touchdown and Davin Meggett had 86 rushing yards for Maryland (7-3, 4-2). The Terrapins can reach the Atlantic Coast Conference title game for the first time by winning their last two games.
Maryland has won a school-record six straight over Top 25 teams, beating California, Clemson, Wake Forest and North Carolina this season and Rutgers and Boston College in 2007.
"If we played the unranked teams the way we play ranked teams, we'd be in really great shape," Friedgen said.
The victory also kept the Terrapins unbeaten at home (6-0).
The Tar Heels (7-3, 3-3) dropped out of first place in the Coastal Division and remained winless at Maryland since 1997.
"We had the situation we wanted with three weeks last and we knew we were in the driver's seat," Paschal said. "We just let it get away from us."
North Carolina converted only one of 11 third downs and finished with only 75 yards rushing. It was their third loss by three points or fewer.
"As you're building this program, there's a lot of steps that go into building a program and not all of them are vertical, not all of them go up," coach Butch Davis said. "We'll learn something from this. We've got a bunch of kids in that locker room that are hurting right now. But there's a lot to play for."
After Egekeze's late field goal, Cameron Sexton's bid to bring the Tar Heels back ended with an interception by Jamari McCollough in the final minute.
Sexton went 10-for-24 for 166 yards and took the blame for an offense that produced only 11 first downs.
"I played poorly today. I didn't play well. It's a team effort, but as the quarterback of this football team, I have a little bit greater responsibility," he said. "I never got in a rhythm. ... I don't know how to explain it. It wasn't my day today. I got to play better for us to win."
North Carolina missed a chance to increase its one-point lead late in the third quarter when Casey Barth's 28-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. A 44-yard pass from running back Shaun Draughn to Brooks Foster preceded the errant kick.
The Tar Heels got the ball back when a fumble by second-string quarterback Josh Portis was recovered by Quinton Coples at the Maryland 33, but three straight incomplete passes led to a punt.
A back-and-forth first half, played at times in heavy rain, ended with North Carolina up 15-14.
The game's first points came on a Maryland mistake: a snap over the head of punter Travis Baltz, who dived on the ball in the end zone for a 42-yard loss and a safety.
After Barth added a field goal, Scott capped a 76-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Terrapins up 7-5.
Two plays later, Sexton lofted a pass on the run that cleared leaping defensive back Kenny Tate and landed in the arms of Cooter Arnold, who completed the 59-yard play for his first career touchdown.
The Terrapins again had a response. A 13-play march in which Meggett rushed for 57 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, made it 14-12.
The Tar Heels then moved to the Maryland 36 before Sexton fumbled the wet football. Later, however, North Carolina regained the lead when a 32-yard run by Foster set up a field goal.
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