It was his shoulder again, the same one he had hurt earlier in the season. To that point Scott had 23 rushes for 163 yards and a touchdown, resembling more his early season form. But he knew his night was over, and as he walked off the field, he had message for the rest of the offense.
He grabbed Davin Meggett by the facemask, shouted towards the offensive line and had some words for Darrius Heyward-Bey. Scott watched as the offense he carried all day went 74 yards in 11 plays, capped off by Obi Egekeze’s 20-yard field goal with six seconds left to give Maryland a 27-24 win over North Carolina State.
“He was just getting us going,” Dan Gronkowski said of Scott. “He wasn’t coming back in the game so he had to get us hyped up basically.”
Chris Turner wasn’t so sure what Scott said--he just heard a lot of yelling. “But it was something motivational,” Turner said.
Whatever Scott said, Turner and Gronkowski agreed that it worked. Maryland methodically marched down the field, calm yet with a slight sense of urgency--there were, after all, only 4 minutes and 50 seconds left when the Terps started the drive at their own 8-yard line.
Offensive coordinator James Franklin didn’t panic and stayed with the run, which had netted Maryland 167 yards before the final drive. He called six straight runs--three to Scott, then three to Meggett--which got Maryland to its 36-yard line.
Then Turner, who was 9 of 20 for 126 yards and a touchdown, hit Gronkowski over the middle for 16 yards. It wasn’t an optimal passing day otherwise for Turner, as a driving rain fell for most of the game. “The rain messed us up a lot,” he said.
“We’re all about execution and that just slows you down even more,” Gronkowski said.
With less than two minutes left and barely in N.C. State territory, Meggett’s run got called back by a holding, setting Maryland up for a first-and-18 at its 46-yard line.
Turner’s pass on that down missed Heyward-Bey, but his next found Maryland’s speedy wide receiver for a 19-yard gain and first down.
At the N.C. State 35-yard line, Meggett’s run went nowhere and Maryland took a timeout with 35 seconds left.
Here’s where it gets fun.
Franklin told coach Ralph Friedgen that he wants to try a shot at the end zone. He’ll send Heyward-Bey down the middle and let him make a play. Friedgen obliged.
Heyward-Bey was matched up one-on-one down the middle and Turner hit him just as Heyward-Bey was in the end zone. He jumped up and fell to the ground with the ball, but it popped out as a Wolfpack defender fell on top of him.
It was ruled incomplete and reviewed, then the call was confirmed to a chorus of boos.
“I thought it was a touchdown, he thought it was a touchdown, everyone else thought it was a touchdown. But the guys that count didn’t think it was a touchdown,” Turner said. “It was kind of deflating. I was like, ‘Ah, touchdown, here we go.’ And they took it back and I was like, ‘All right.’”
So there Maryland was--at N.C. State’s 35-yard line, facing a third-and-10.
“I told James, ‘Look, get something inside the 30. Call a play you think we can get inside the 30,’” Friedgen said. “I think we got a shot if we get it inside the 30.”
Franklin called a double screen. But Friedgen had one condition, seeing as they had run it earlier to Cory Jackson without success. “‘I want a running back in there to run it,’” he told Franklin.
He had another: “‘Look, if this one doesn’t work you better get fourth down ready because if it’s incomplete or whatnot, we’re out of field goal range and we have to go for it,’” Friedgen told Franklin.
Turner dropped back, and as most screens go, he faced pressure from N.C. State’s defensive end. He was right in Turner’s face and Turner would have to throw it over him to Meggett on the right side. Problem was, Turner couldn’t see Meggett. “I knew where he was generally,” he said.
The ball floated out and Meggett made the catch to see blockers downfield and N.C. State defenders on the ground. He weaved up the right sideline to the 4-yard line as the vastly dissipated crowd of 45,018 roared.
“One of the throws Chris has trouble making is that throw,” Friedgen said. “He got it over the guy, my heart was in my mouth. When he caught it, James said ‘touchdown.’ We probably should have scored on the play.”
But what does it matter, right? A field goal from where Meggett went down is a near certainty. Yet, with just 28 seconds left, the decision-making wasn’t quite over.
“We were talking about running a play and I just said, ‘Look, let’s just set it up,’” Friedgen said. “It’s an extra point and I didn’t want to take the chance of fumbling the ball. [The offensive staff] wanted to run the ball.”
Turner scampered to the middle of the field and took a knee, and Friedgen took a timeout with 8 seconds left. Maryland lined up for the field goal and N.C. State took a timeout to freeze Obi Egekeze. Egekeze jogged to Friedgen on the sidelines.
“I said, ‘They’ll probably freeze you again.’ But I said, ‘It’s an extra point Obi, you’ve probably kicked 150 of these in a row. Just don’t steer and hit the thing and it’s over,’” Friedgen said.
Egekeze nailed the 20-yarder on the slippery turf and embraced with holder Travis Baltz. Egekeze said he had the easiest job of the three field goal cogs: kicker, snapper and holder. The holder had to snap the wet ball, Baltz had to catch and place it on an exact spot. All Egekeze had to do was, essentially, make an extra point.
Scott then returned to the field holding his left arm. Perhaps his pep talk, a rare plead from an injured player as he walks off the field, had been responsible for Maryland’s drive, But then again, it’s nothing new.
“He’s always like that,” said Meggett, who also had 34 rushing yards and a touchdown. “We can be up by 30 and it’s ‘Keep it going, keep it going.’ We can be down by 30, ‘Keep it going, keep it going.’ He’s a constant motivator. He’s always in it to win it.”
And even if he’s not in, Maryland still wins.