After Florida State took the opening kickoff and easily moved 69 yards in six plays for a 7-0 lead, it appeared evident that the Seminoles' annual rout of Maryland was underway.
Not this time.
That turned out to be the only touchdown for the ninth-ranked Seminoles, who had to overcome 11 penalties and a pair of turnovers to squeeze out a surprisingly difficult 24-10 victory Saturday.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked five field goals and Chris Weinke passed for 261 yards, but the Seminoles (4-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hardly resembled the team that had outscored Maryland (2-3, 0-2) by an average of 39 points over the previous six years.
"It's easy to see where our problems are - it's in the red zone," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "We just can't do it. We've got to do it or we're not going to be in any more ballgames."
The Seminoles scored on their first four possessions but led only 16-10 at halftime against a team they beat last year 50-7. The halftime score in that game was 30-7.
| Florida State's Laveranues Coles hauls in a first-quarter TD pass in the Seminoles' 24-10 victory over Maryland. (AP) |
"Coaches love a game where it gets over with quickly, and I thought today was going to be that way," Bowden said. "But they would not go away. They kept fighting. And we kept doing things that I just could not believe."
The Seminoles amassed 111 yards in penalties and Peter Warrick lost two fumbles on punt returns. FSU alo failed to convert 10 of 19 third-down situations.
Were it not for Janikowski, whose five field goals tied a school record, Florida State would have been in deep trouble. Janikowski connected from 27, 47, 48, 23 and 36 yards and missed from 47.
"We didn't execute the way we should. We had to settle for field goals and that's not our offense," said Weinke, who was 16-for-32. "We didn't play the way we should. We didn't take them seriously."
The Terrapins were within eight points late in the third quarter, but Florida State eventually wore down Maryland behind tailback Jeff Chaney, who gained 133 yards on 30 carries in his first college start.
A 36-yard field goal by Janikowski made it 24-10 with 11:01 left. Maryland recovered Warrick's second fumble with 7:12 remaining at the FSU 32, but could not score.
"Our kids stood toe-to-toe with them," Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said. "We just need to step up and make some big plays on our own. That will come."
Chaney, subbing for the injured Travis Minor, gained 64 yards in the fourth quarter to help cement the victory. But it wasn't nearly as easy as anyone on Florida State expected.
"We came in here and thought we could just blow them out," Chaney said. "That's something you just can't do against any team."
Terrapins linebacker Kendall Ogle said: "We definitely gained their respect."
Maryland had yielded only seven first-quarter points in four games, but the Seminoles needed only 21/2 minutes to match that. Laveranues Coles caught a 15-yarder on a third-and-8 play before splitting two defenders on a 38-yard touchdown catch.
The Terrapins then punted and Warrick fumbled -- Florida State's first turnover in three games. But Maryland failed to move and Larry Smith blocked Brian Kopka's 37-yard field goal attempt.
The Seminoles ended their next two drives with field goals for a 13-0 lead after the first quarter.
After gaining only 3 yards on its first three possessions, Maryland moved 80 yards in 11 plays to close to 13-7. The touchdown came on a 14-yard screen pass from Randall Jones to Moses Cruz.
Janikowski countered with a 48-yard field goal, but on their fifth possession the Seminoles finally came up empty when he was wide right on a 47-yard attempt.
A 24-yard field goal by Kopka ended a 61-yard march to make it 16-10.
The Seminoles used a safety to go up 18-10 in the third quarter. Florida State then moved to the Maryland 4 after the free kick before Janikowski kicked a field goal.
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