COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Perry Hills was sprawled on his back, and he wasn’t getting up. At that point, Maryland’s chances of beating North Carolina State appeared over. Worse, the rest of the season also seemed to be in serious jeopardy.
The Terrapins rallied behind backup Devin Burns and also got a strong performance from third-stringer Caleb Rowe, and although Maryland lost 20-18 on Saturday, there was hope that the team could rebound from this defeat and loss of its starting quarterback.
Hills left in the second quarter with a knee injury, and the prognosis was not encouraging.
“We will wait and see what the MRI tells about it, but it doesn’t look good,” Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said.
Burns replaced Hills and nearly produced a stunning victory for Maryland (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) against all odds in the first extensive action of his college career.
After N.C. State’s Niklas Sade kicked a 43-yard field goal with 32 seconds left for a 20-18 lead, Rowe moved Maryland 60 yards in five plays before Brad Craddock’s 33-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright with two seconds remaining.
“That was a very disappointing and heartbreaking loss,” Edsall said. “We put ourselves in position to win the game there at the end but we just came up short.”
Burns, a sophomore, rushed for 50 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards. He wasn’t even on the depth chart at quarterback at the beginning of summer practice and ran only two plays this season before being pressed into action after Hills was carted from the field.
“When one guys goes down, the other guy has to step up,” Maryland freshman receiver Stefon Diggs said. “That’s part of battling adversity.”
Edsall said: “I think we have two guys who will help us move forward. It’s a credit to how they have prepared and to our offensive coaches for having those kids ready.”
Ten of the last 13 games between these teams have been decided by fewer than 10 points, including five in which the differential was less than four points. As usual, neither team could pull away in this one.
The Wolfpack (5-2, 2-1) trailed 18-17 and had no timeouts left upon getting the ball at their own 20 with 2:17 to go. Mike Glennon completed a 14-yard pass to Quintin Payton on a third-and-10 and pushed N.C. State into field-goal range with a 14-yard completion to Rashard Smith.
“When it came time to make plays, he made plays,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said of his senior quarterback.
And then, after Sade made his clutch kick, the Wolfpack defense nearly gave the lead away.
“Sometimes over the course of a season you have to win a game where you scratch your head a little bit,” O’Brien said.
Glennon went 23 for 47 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, and Bryan Underwood had six catches for 134 yards and a score. Underwood has caught a TD pass in seven straight games, the longest such streak in school history.
Maryland trailed 10-3 at halftime and 17-15 in the fourth quarter before rallying behind Burns and true freshman Wes Brown, who ran for 121 yards on 25 carries.
The Terps went up 18-17 on a 48-yard field goal by Craddock with 13:39 left, but the lead wouldn’t stand up.
Hills’ injury occurred while he was trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception. The quarterback was chasing David Amerson when he was flattened by Rickey Dowdy, who was called for an illegal block to the back.
Hills was thrust into the starting role in August after C.J. Brown tore his ACL. Hills helped Maryland win four of six games and was 12 for 20 for 159 yards in this one before leaving.
Burns, meanwhile, moved from quarterback to wide receiver in the spring of 2011, then switched back to quarterback during preseason camp after Brown’s injury.
In spite of his lack of experience, Burns brought the Terrapins back against an N.C. State coming off a bye and two weeks removed from beating Florida State.
Maryland trailed 10-3 before a blocked punt and interference penalty set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Brown midway through the third quarter. The conversion kick failed.
On the first play following the kickoff, Underwood slipped free down the middle and was 10 yards behind the closest Maryland defender when he hauled in a rainbow pass from Glennon for a 68-yard score.
“That play was a killer for us,” Edsall said.
Undaunted, Burns directed a 74-yard drive that got the Terrapins to 17-15. After peeling off runs of 23, 5 and 14 yards in addition to completing a 38-yard pass to Marcus Leak, Burns scored on a bootleg from the 2.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)