Maryland-Wake Forest: A Season-Saver for the Deacons?

Jared RebackAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2007

IconIt wasn't pretty.  As a fan, it was downright frustrating.  

The offense could do nothing right. The defense alternated between good drives and bad ones.  Some fans were fed up enough to head for the exits.

But the great thing about football is that one play can change an entire game.

In fact, one play can alter the course of two seasons.

There's an unofficial list of things a quarterback should never do in a football game.  Somewhere on that list is a bit about throwing out patterns when in the red zone.

They work occasionally, but there are certainly safer ways to score points—especially when your team already has three short rushing touchdowns.

Too bad someone forgot to tell that to Jordan Steffy and the Maryland Terrapins.

Steffy threw an ill-fated red-zone out ball late in the third quarter on Saturday, which Alphonso Smith intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown. 

Instead of a 31-3 Maryland lead that would have emptied the stadium, the score was 24-10—and the shift in momentum carried into the final period.

Maryland's offense didn't come close to scoring again, Wake struck for two touchdowns—including one with three seconds left in regulation—and the Deacons flat out stole a huge ACC game 31-24 in overtime.

Wake didn't deserve to win this one.  They turned the ball over four times and failed on two fourth-down conversions.  They were beaten on both sides of the ball for 43:50 of a 60-minute game (plus overtime).

Quite simply, they looked like the squad that represented Wake Forest before the 2006 season.

In 2006, a blocked field goal on the last play of the game against Duke gave Wake a win it didn't deserve.  Now, the Deacons have a chance to build on another fortunate victory—and an open date next weekend—to salvage a floundering season.

If they can get healthy and work out their turnover issues, they just might be able to do it.

Maryland, on the other hand, has real problems.  The Terps were unimpressive in their two victories against Villanova and FIU.  After two tough defeats, they now have to face Rutgers on the road before digging into the meat of their conference schedule.

This is a team that needed a win today, both for confidence and ACC positioning. They let a prime opportunity slip away.

If the Terps don't address their problems, not only will they not compete for a conference title—they'll struggle to make a bowl game.

On College GameDay Final, Rece Davis said Smith's interception met the textbook definition of a "Pontiac Game-Changing Performance."

If Wake has its way, it will be a Season-Saving one too.