ACC Football: N.C. State 56, Maryland 41: Pack rallies from 27 down
By Joedy McCreary
RALEIGH — North Carolina State didn’t quit on the season when things looked bleakest. The Wolfpack refused to give up on the finale, either.
Trailing the ACC’s worst team by four touchdowns, N.C. State came up with the biggest rally in school history — and all but assured itself of one more game.
Mike Glennon threw for a career-high five touchdowns, ran for another score and helped North Carolina State come back from 27 points down in the second half to beat Maryland 56-41 on Saturday.
James Washington ran 1 yard for the go-ahead score with 7:08 left for the Wolfpack (7-5, 4-4 ACC), who trailed 41-14 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter before scoring six straight times they touched the ball during the second-biggest comeback ACC history — and a victory that might have been more shocking than last week’s upset of Clemson.
“When this football team was 2-3, there weren’t a lot of people that believed we could win five out of the next seven games except the people in this building,” coach Tom O’Brien said. “You hitch up your britches, you buckle your chin strap, you go to work and you start grinding. And that’s what we did. … There’s probably not a lot of people, in the middle of the third quarter today — except those guys on the bench — who would have believed that the outcome would have been (what) it was.”
The Wolfpack scored 35 points in the fourth quarter as part of a rally surpassed in an ACC game only by Clemson’s comeback from a 28-point deficit to beat Virginia 29-28 in 1992.
“It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” tight end George Bryan said.
C.J. Brown rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another for Maryland (2-10, 1-7), which lost its last eight games under first-year coach Randy Edsall and dropped its school-record fifth in a row by double figures. Davin Meggett’s 46-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave the Terrapins their biggest lead.
“This is the way our season has gone,” Brown said. “We could not put together a full game. We had to step up and make a play and we couldn’t.”
Glennon finished 36 of 55 for 306 yards and became the second Wolfpack player to account for six TDs in a game, joining Philip Rivers in that exclusive club.
He had touchdown passes covering 4 and 11 yards to Tony Creecy, 7 yards to Jay Smith, 6 yards to Tobais Palmer and 7 yards to Bryan for N.C. State, which needed to win seven games to become eligible because two of its victories came against FCS teams.
It took a remarkable rally to make that happen.
“We’re not trying to put ourselves in this situation, but it’s a great win,” Glennon said. “To do that on the stage that it was, that we knew we had (to win) to go to a bowl game, was pretty special.”
Glennon started the comeback with his touchdown pass to Palmer with just under 6 minutes left in the third. Then he threw a second scoring pass to Creecy on the first play of the fourth quarter, pulling N.C. State within 13.
“What we needed to do was to get one score, because you have to get the first one,” O’Brien said. “Then you can get the second one. You can’t make it up all at one time.”
Meggett fumbled on the Terrapins’ next play, and four plays later, Glennon sneaked in from 1 yard out to make it 41-35 with 13:28 left.
“From that point on, we were rolling,” O’Brien said.
And when Earl Wolff intercepted Brown’s deep pass and brought it out to near midfield, Carter-Finley Stadium was rocking. Glennon’s 20-yard pass to Creecy on third-and-9 set up Washington’s go-ahead touchdown run.
Maryland went three-and-out and punted back to N.C. State with 5:21 left, and the Wolfpack ran about three minutes off the clock — helped by a roughing-the-passer penalty on a third-and-6 that kept the drive going. Glennon’s TD pass to Bryan put N.C. State up 49-41 with 2:18 left.
C.J. Wilson then iced it with a 59-yard interception return for a score with 27 seconds to play.
Brown finished 12 of 23 for 166 yards with a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs and a 24-yard scoring pass to Kevin Dorsey for Maryland, a two-touchdown underdog that hadn’t beaten an FBS team since the opener against shorthanded Miami.
“This is the worst feeling in the world,” Brown said.
Dexter McDougle returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown and A.J. Hendy took back an interception 32 yards for another score for Maryland, which was trying to spoil things for the Wolfpack for the third time in five years. The Terps kept them out of the postseason in 2007, and beat Russell Wilson’s final N.C. State team in the 2010 finale to deny it a spot in the ACC championship game.
For most of the day, it seemed all but certain that it would happen again.
McDougle started the scoring when he scooped up James Washington’s fumble and had an easy path down the sideline for the TD roughly 61/2 minutes in. Hendy made it 28-7 with 8 minutes left in the half when he picked off Glennon’s pass and breezed into the end zone.
“Our immaturity showed early in that we tried too hard,” O’Brien said.
Brown’s second short touchdown run put the Terps up by 14 midway through the second quarter, and his TD pass to Dorsey made it 34-14 with 33 seconds before the break. Meggett then stretched it to 41-14 with his long scoring run barely 4 minutes into the third.
That sent some fans to the exits — way too early.
“I never thought it was over,” O’Brien said. “As long as we’ve got time, and we’ve got a quarterback who can throw the ball and kids who can catch.”
The Associated Press