3:30 PM ET, October 29, 2005
Doak Campbell Stadium, TALLAHASSEE, FL
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Big plays from a veteran receiver and a first-year starting quarterback helped Florida State avoid a second straight upset by Maryland.
Willie Reid returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown and finished with 227 all-purpose yards, Drew Weatherford ran 15 yards for the go-ahead score and the 10th-ranked Seminoles came away with a 35-27 come-from-behind win over Maryland on Saturday.
"He deserves the credit for this win," Weatherford, the redshirt freshman, said of Reid. "Whenever he gets the ball in his hands, he has the capability to do something great and he did that tonight."
Reid, a fifth-year senior, had seven catches for 90 yards, two punt returns for 97 and 40 more on kickoff returns.
"If you need a play," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said, "he's one you don't mind directing the ball to."
Weatherford's 15-yard run with 8:52 left gave the Seminoles a 28-27 lead and they scored three minutes later on James Coleman's 1-yard run. Coleman's score was set up by Ernie Sims' interception.
"I really didn't think he was going to throw it over there, because I had my man, I had him pretty much locked," said Sims, who finished with a team-high 11 tackles and recovered a fumble.
Maryland's final bid for a tie ended with 52 seconds left when Joel Statham was sacked by A.J. Nicholson at the Florida State 40. The Seminoles lost 20-17 in College Park, Md., last season.
"We were a couple of plays from winning," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I'm not into playing close. Either you win or you don't. We didn't and we could have."
Florida State (7-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) can now lock up a spot in the first league title game Dec. 3 at Jacksonville with a victory over North Carolina State next Saturday.
Maryland (4-4, 2-3) scored 24 straight points midway through the game, building a 24-14 lead on Dan Ennis' 40-yard field goal three minutes into the second half.
But the Seminoles turned to their favorite weapon, freshman wide receiver Greg Carr, to get back into the game.
"Going to Greg Carr, two things are typically going to happen," Weatherford said. "He's either going to catch it or get pass interference."
The 6-foot-6 Carr caught a 37-yard pass to the Maryland 1 and then, after two plays lost yards, he broke wide open in the end zone to snag a 4-yard scoring pass to cut Maryland's lead to 24-21.
After Ennis kicked a 35-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter and give the Terrapins a 27-21 lead, Carr was again center stage.
A pair of pass interference calls against Maryland's best cornerback, Gerrick McPhearson, who was trying to defend Carr one-on-one, set up Weatherford's go-ahead score.
"They'd rather take the 15-yard penalty than give up the touchdown or a big play," Carr said. "I kind of expect that."
Florida State wasted a fast start and fans booed the Seminoles off the field at the half when they took a knee on the final play before the break.
Leon Washington scored on a 3-yard run on Florida State's first offensive series and Reid's punt return TD gave the Seminoles a 14-0 lead in the opening minute of the second quarter.
But Maryland answered Reid's TD with three touchdowns in a span of nine minutes to take a 21-14 halftime lead. Statham ran for a score and added touchdown passes covering 29 yards to Derrick Fenner and 20 yards to Jo Jo Walker.
"It's frustrating," Fenner said afterward. "We've just got to put these games away."
With road games at North Carolina and North Carolina State sandwiched around a Nov. 19 home date against Boston College, the Terps are scrambling to qualify for bowl eligibility.
"We have our work cut out for us," Friedgen said.
Weatherford, leading the ACC in passing yards, completed 27-of-37 passes for 264 yards but was intercepted twice.
Statham, who sparked Maryland's victory over Florida State a year ago, completed 15-of-29 passes for 177 yards while sophomore tailback Lance Ball ran for 120 yards on 21 carries.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Seminoles linebacker A.J. Nicholson sacked Maryland QB Joel Statham at the FSU 40 with 52 seconds left in the game.
Gameball goes to... Florida State QB Drew Weatherford. The redshirt freshman wasn't spectacular (27-37, 264 yards, 2 INTs), but he did have two TDs (one rushing, one passing) and he led the 'Noles back from a 24-14 second-half deficit.
Stat of the game... 1: The number of wins Florida State needs to lock up a spot in the ACC's first championship game on Dec. 3. That could come next Saturday when NC State comes to Tallahassee.
The Fan Pick
98.5% of College Pick'em players picked Florida State to win the game.