The Maryland Terrapins fell to North Carolina on Saturday, 45-38, finishing the season 4-8 and 2-6 in conference play.
For a brief period during the game on Saturday, all of the injuries, bad luck, and other unfortunate circumstances that surrounded this football season became an afterthought. Maryland had every break possible go there way and after giving up two quick touchdowns to UNC to start the game, led going into halftime. Maryland was able to score twice to tie the game at 14 before UNC again took the lead on a 63 yard touchdown pass that seemed to take the momentum back away from the Terps. But then something strange happened, something amazing and very unusual. Maryland scored twice in the span of 30 or so seconds.
Trailing 21-14, Maryland engineered a nice drive and found themselves on the UNC 8 yard line, facing a 2nd and 7. Quarterback Shawn Petty pitched the ball to receiver Stefon Diggs, who rolled to his right, then tossed a pass to a wide open Matt Furstenburg in the endzone for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, UNC fumbled the ball and Maryland recovered. With just 15 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Maryland started at the UNC 28 yard line. If they completed a pass and didn't score, it would be hard to get everyone to the line and spike the ball, even if they got the first down to stop the clock. So when Petty dropped back and completed a pass to Kevin Dorsey down the middle, after avoiding a blitz, it initially looked as if Maryland might get no points out of the possession. But then Dorsey made two defenders miss and dove into the endzone to give Maryland the lead as they headed into halftime. An amazing sequence of events that saw Maryland score touchdowns on two straight plays. But Maryland wasn't done. On the opening kickoff of the second half, UNC drilled a kick to the Maryland 1 yard line where freshman Stefon Diggs was waiting. After zigzagging his way through the UNC special teams, he was off to the races for a 99 yard touchdown. Maryland had gone from down 14-0 to up 35-21. During that brief time, you forgot how decimated this team had been by injuries. You didn't remember that we'd only won 6 games over the last two seasons. You could be proud of Maryland football. You were happy to see that, despite a freshman linebacker playing quarterback, your team refused to give up. They were living up to the words of the Maryland Victory song - "Keep on fighting, don't give in..." and you could feel a sense of pride in this team that went beyond the pride jerseys they were wearing.
Unfortunately for Maryland, the defense was unable to keep what is a very prolific UNC offense at bay and Maryland's offense, despite their fantastic 1st half, managed to only put up three points in the second half. That resulted in UNC scoring 24 unanswered points before Maryland kicked a field goal in the 4th quarter.
So that brings an end to the 2012 football season. It was clear that this team was light years better than the one we saw in 2011. Had they not been ravaged by injuries, they'd probably have won seven or eight games this season and be in position to go to a decent bowl game. But alas, Maryland fans are going to have to settle on the fact that this team has the talent to compete, will return a lot of experienced players next season, and might have one of the best receiving corps in the country next year, between Stefon Diggs, Nigel King, Deon Long, and Marcus Leak. Add that to what should be a very interesting quarterback battle in the spring and Maryland could have a very prolific offense in 2013.
Until then, it's onto basketball season. We'll have a larger wrap up on the season in the coming days.