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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Smith's record day tames Wolfpack

By Rick Nelligan

The Terps saved their best for the last game of the season at Byrd Stadium. On Senior Day it was the Terrapins' highly touted junior receiver Torrey Smith who stepped up and forced his way into Maryland’s record books. Not only were his 14 catches, 224 yards receiving and four touchdowns all among the most prolific single game performances ever by a Terp, but he also broke into Maryland’s record books for performances in a season and a career. Perhaps the most impressive record Torrey broke was for Maryland’s career all-purpose yards with 5,140, passing Terrapin great LaMont Jordan for the top spot on the mountain. We can only hope it wasn’t his swan song at Byrd.

Along with Torrey’s huge day, the senior-led defense played a huge part in the win. After surrendering touchdowns on each of North Carolina State’s first two possessions, the Terps shut down the Wolfpack offense until desperation time late in the fourth quarter. Senior safety Antwine Perez changed the game early in the second quarter (after the worst personal foul call on Cameron Chism I’ve ever seen) when he blew up an N.C. State screen play, forcing a fumble and recovering it himself. While it didn’t lead to any points on the ensuing drive for the Terps, it helped to get the team and the fans re-energized and it was just about the loudest I’ve heard Byrd all year long, despite the lack of a sellout. The three other senior defensive stalwarts also raised the level of their play. While senior leaders Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten were only able to chip in seven and five tackles respectively, they really helped the defense bounce back from their early deficit and harassed Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson all night long. It was senior defensive end Drew Gloster’s 21-yard sack late in the fourth quarter that really helped seal the deal for the Terps.

How could I write a review of this game without mentioning the passing of the torch from the seniors to freshman quarterback, Danny O’Brien? Without any running game to speak of, O’Brien put the game on his shoulders (along with the aforementioned Torrey Smith) and carried the Terps to victory. O’Brien ended up completing 33 of 47 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns, the first 400-yard passing game of his hopefully productive career. The poise and leadership that he’s shown this season is uncanny for a freshman. Much of O’Brien’s success can be attributed to do-it-all senior offensive lineman Paul Pinegar and his teammates along the offensive line. While the running game struggled to get going, they kept O’Brien’s jersey clean for most of the game. Unfortunately the struggles in run blocking didn’t help fellow senior running back Da’Rel Scott, who finished with a ghastly -10 yards rushing. Hopefully his showing in Maryland’s bowl game is more fruitful; he deserves to go out on a much better note. On a side note, how good is senior tight end Will Yeatman? I wish we had him for four years; he definitely could’ve helped Maryland become “Tight End University.”

This has been an incredible and unexpected season for the Terps, and it’s not over yet. Perhaps the most important effect of the victory is that it boosts Maryland’s ranking in the ACC bowl selection order. Had Maryland lost, the Terps likely would’ve been punching their short (albeit cheap) ticket to the Military Bowl. But with Saturday’s conquest, the Terps are ranked third in the ACC which could vault them right into the Champs Sports Bowl. Nothing is guaranteed yet, but the Terps prospects are certainly brighter than they were a week ago.

By Rick Nelligan  | November 29, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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I had the pleasure of sitting next to Torrey on a flight down to Florida this spring...We talked for about an hour or so and I came away extremely impressed...Friendly, intelligent, humble, articulate...A great ambassador for the Univ. of MD...I'm a UVA grad and it's painful that Groh didn't get him to Cville...

Posted by: tsavage9 | November 29, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

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