Edsall: Head-scratching plays still a problem
Leave it to Maryland to make the program’s final game in the ACC as laborious a marathon as a college football game with a 20-point margin of victory can be.
Quarterback C.J. Brown set the pace in the first half with four total touchdowns to bury NC State early, but the Wolfpack fought to keep it interesting in the second half before Maryland shut the door for good in a 41-21 Terrapin victory on Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.
There was a period of time in the third quarter when things appeared close though the Maryland lead remained at 20 points. Running back Brandon Ross escaped a near-safety twice after being stuffed at the one-yard line on back-to-back plays. Had that ended in two points, the momentum at Carter-Finley Stadium would likely have swung the other way.
Maryland’s defense also pitched in, forcing NC State to turn the ball over down on successive possessions late in the third quarter to squash hopes of a Wolfpack comeback.
Maryland 41, NC State 21
MARYLAND CLINCHES FIRST WINNING SEASON UNDER EDSALL
After two tumultuous and injury-plagued seasons--and a third that saw its share of season-ending injuries, too--head coach Randy Edsall has clinched his first winning season in College Park.
The victory moves Maryland to 7-5 with only a bowl game remaining.
OFFENSIVE MACHINE CHURNS IN RALEIGH
It had been a while since we’ve seen Maryland’s offense run this fluidly. Quarterback C.J. Brown was back in the form we saw him in early season wins against Florida International, running the zone read effectively.
At the half he had three rushing touchdowns and 288 total yards (155 passing and 113 rushing), which was single-handedly 128 yards more than the entire NC State offense through the first 30 minutes.
Maryland reintroduced the deep ball to the mix, something that had faded since season-ending injuries to Deon Long and Stefon Diggs. Brown connected with wide receiver Nigel King 53-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and found Amba Etta-Tawo for another big gain down the middle.
Brown finished 13-of-25 passing for 259 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 138 more yards and added three touchdowns.
DEFENSE BRINGS PRESSURE ON MITCHELL
NC State scored a touchdown on its opening drive, helped along by a 54-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Brandon Mitchell to Quintin Payton that set up the score. Over the course of the rest of the half, the Wolfpack were stagnant before punching in a late touchdown.
NC State added another touchdown after the half, but was stopped on three key fourth-down plays in third and fourth quarters that stalled drives in the red zone. NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell was sacked five times.
FINAL ACC GAME IS A MARYLAND VICTORY
Maryland was a charter member of the ACC, but the curtain has officially closed on its ttime in the conference. It has been a theme for the entire season, riding the “last game against [fill in opponent of your choosing]” story line to the bank.
But this was the final of the final, the last against NC State in regular season play and the last in the conference itself. Now Maryland awaits a bowl game to end the season before it rides off into the Big Ten sunset.