QB Ball bounces back for Tech

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Ralph Friedgen had just gone through
two quarterbacks and watched No. 23 Maryland muster only 81 yards
in offense in an unexpected home loss to Georgia Tech.

The coach was pressed to remember ever seeing another game quite
like it.

"Our offense was inept. That was maybe one of the worst
offensive performances I've ever been associated with," he said.
"It's the worst we played in a long time."

Maryland's 13-game home winning streak ended in stunning fashion
Saturday, as Georgia Tech blanked Maryland through three quarters
and forced out ineffective quarterback Joel Statham in a 20-7

Reggie Ball threw for 197 yards and a touchdown to help the
Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap a two-game
losing streak. It's been an erratic season for Georgia Tech, which
also defeated then-No. 18 Clemson but lost to lowly North Carolina.

"This game was make-or-break for our season," Tech linebacker
Chris Reis said. "We needed to come out and get our confidence
back up. The defense stepped up to the plate, we played real well
and got a win."

The Terrapins (3-2, 1-1) were undefeated at home since September
2002 and 21-1 at Byrd Stadium since Friedgen took over the program
in 2001.

"To play like we did tonight is very disheartening," Friedgen
said. "I told the kids last night that it would be a real test to
see where we are. If this is where we are, we're in trouble."

Statham came in leading the ACC in total offense and had
received complete support from Friedgen despite his seven
interceptions and propensity to fumble. But the frustrated coach
removed the struggling quarterback in the third quarter with
Maryland trailing 20-0.

"Joel just couldn't do anything right," Friedgen said. "We
just felt like we needed a lift."

True freshman Jordan Steffy directed a scoring drive that made
it 20-7 with 11:28 left, but that was the extent of the damage that
Maryland could inflict on a defense that was surrendering an
average of 23 points per game.

"I don't think I can ever say enough about the defensive effort
tonight," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "They moved it a
little bit the first couple of times they had the ball, and then
after that we kept them off balance."

Statham went 6-for-14 for 36 yards. Steffy was 5-for-9 for 38
yards and showed enough poise to at least warrant consideration as
a starter next week.

"I don't know if he's ready for that yet or not," said
Friedgen, adding that he probably won't announce his decision until

The Terrapins stumbled on offense and their defense had no
answer for Ball, whose starting job was believed to be in jeopardy
after he threw three interceptions last week in a 27-3 loss to

Ball completed 11 of 22 passes, ran for 43 yards and coolly
directed an offense that did not commit a single turnover.

He received ample support from P.J. Daniels, who gained 91 yards
rushing on 26 attempts. Daniels ran for 51 yards on three carries
and scored from the 12 during a 65-yard drive that made it 17-0
with 10:06 left in the third quarter.

A 26-yard pass from Ball to Nate Curry set up a field goal by
Travis Bell for a 20-0 lead.

Maryland senior Steve Suter set the ACC record for career punt
return yards (1,212). He returned three punts for 24 yards to pass
Ledel George of North Carolina State, who had 1,191 yards from

"I would have traded it in for a win and put it off until next
week gladly," Suter said.

Georgia Tech ran up a 201-66 advantage in offensive yardage and
took a 10-0 lead at halftime.

Josh Allen ran for 28 yards on Maryland's first play from
scrimmage, but the promising drive ended with Nick Novak missing a
44-yard field-goal try.

Neither team threatened again until early in the second quarter,
when Bell kicked an apparent 45-yard field goal. But Georgia Tech
was called for an illegal shift and subsequently punted.

On their next series, however, the Yellow Jackets took a 7-0
lead. Ball used two completions to Devon Thomas totaling 50 yards
to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to Curry.

Georgia Tech made it 10-0 late the half when Bell kicked a
19-yard field goal after freshman Calvin Johnson made a sensational
catch for a 44-yard gain to the Maryland 6.


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