BC in ACC picture as Dunbar strikes fast vs. Maryland

BOSTON (AP) -- When Jolonn Dunbar scored on a fumble recovery 42 seconds into the game, he thought to himself, "Oh, man, this must be my lucky day."

Little did he know.

Boston College's captain and linebacker returned another fumble for a touchdown less than three minutes later and the 20th-ranked Eagles stayed in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship picture with a 38-16 win over 21st-ranked Maryland on Saturday.

On the opposing sideline, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen could only wonder how, just four minutes into the game, his team had allowed more points than it did in each of its previous two games.

"You can't make the mistakes we did today and expect to win the game," he said. "I'm really disheartened because I thought we'd understand the importance."

The game had a significant impact on the Atlantic Division race in the conference.

BC (9-2, 5-2) would have been eliminated if it had lost. It still must beat Miami in its last regular-season game next Thursday night and hope Wake Forest, which lost Saturday night to Virginia Tech, loses to Maryland next Saturday. The Terrapins (8-3, 5-2) can still win the division if they beat Wake Forest next Saturday and BC loses to Miami.

Wake Forest (9-2, 5-2) just has to win its last game to win the division and a berth in the ACC title game against Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech in Jacksonville on Dec. 2. It earned the tiebreaker over BC by beating the Eagles.

"I'm only thinking about going to Miami and winning," Eagles coach Tom O'Brien said.

The loss ended Maryland's five-game winning streak.

"We had everything in our own hands," Terps linebacker Erin Henderson said. "Now we need people to come up for us."

The Eagles led 14-0 on Dunbar's returns of 14 and 38 yards before Matt Ryan threw two scoring passes for BC.

"I couldn't believe it happened again," Dunbar said. "I was kind of hoping for a third."

Any hopes for a Maryland comeback were dashed by two more turnovers -- a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown by DeJuan Tribble and an interception in the end zone by Jamie Silva after Maryland reached the 4 early in the fourth quarter.

Saturday's start was a dramatic reminder of BC's 31-16 win at Maryland last season when Dunbar scored on a fumble return of 96 yards, the longest in BC history. The Eagles also scored on another turnover, a 35-yard interception return.

"The same thing we did last year," Friedgen said. "Not only were they turnovers but it led to 21 points."

On Saturday's second play from scrimmage, Danny Oquendo took a pitchout to the left from quarterback Sam Hollenbach and was blasted by Larry Anam. Oquendo fumbled, Hollenbach slid for the ball but it squirted toward Maryland's end zone, and Dunbar scooped it up and ran for the touchdown.

"Watching the tape on them all week, you know what they're going to do," Anam said. He felt tingling throughout his body after the hit, went to a hospital for tests and returned in the second half.

"I went to grab it," Oquendo said, "and when it was on my finger tips his head was in my chest."

On the fifth play of the next series, Hollenbach tried a pitch to the other side with equally devastating results. Lance Ball fumbled and Dunbar was there again.

Just 3:18 into the game, the Eagles led 14-0 without running an offensive play. Unlike the Terps' last seven games that were each decided by six points or less, the margin in this would be much greater.

"It wasn't like we were blowing people out," Hollenbach said.

Ryan finally got in the game with 6:36 left in the first quarter and threw a 21-yard completion to Tony Gonzalez on his first play but BC didn't score. Maryland finally scored midway through the second quarter on the first of Dan Ennis' three-field goals, a 29-yarder.

Then Ryan led BC to touchdowns on a 34-yard pass to Gonzalez and a 17-yarder to Brandon Robinson for a 28-3 lead. On those two series, Ryan completed 9 of 12 passes for 140 yards.

Ennis' 37-yard field goal on the last play of the half and his 46-yarder cut the lead to 28-9.