Florida State squeaks past Maryland to become bowl eligible

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Greg Reid has made several big plays for Florida State this season, but none more important than Saturday.

The Seminoles (6-5, 4-4 ACC) were only a couple minutes away from a devastating loss to Maryland when the freshman darted 48 yards with a punt return. That set up Lonnie Pryor's 3-yard run with 32 seconds left that gave Florida State the win it needed to become bowl eligible for the 28th straight year.

"I told [quarterback] E.J. [Manuel] before I would set him up for good field position and all you've got to do is finish the game," Reid said. "Everything worked out."

Reid was lucky to get his hands on the ball -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen wanted the kick to sail out of bounds.

"The kid is a heckuva returner," Friedgen said. "Regardless, we have to go down there and cover."

Pryor's go-ahead score was his second touchdown of the game.

"I never thought as a freshman I would get a winning touchdown," said Pryor, who also scored on a 50-yard run on a pitch from Manuel in the second quarter. "I ran scared pretty much."

Maryland (2-9, 1-6) suffered its sixth straight loss.

"You can't let people get away," Friedgen said. "All we had to do was take care of business."

Maryland's Davin Meggett scored his second touchdown on a 9-yard run with 4:29 remaining that gave the Terrapins a 26-22 lead.

"We had a chance to finish the game," Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak said.

Maryland's defense intercepted Manuel three times, the last one by Cameron Chism with 2:57 left that seemed to shut the door on the Seminoles.

But the Terrapins were unable to run out the clock and Reid, the ACC's leading punt returner, gave the Seminoles some momentum with his return to set up the winning drive.

"We've got to make two first downs in that situation," Friedgen said. "We couldn't do it."

Reid returned three punts for 88 yards and now has 350 yards on 19 returns going into next week's game at top-ranked Florida.

Manuel, who was making his first start at home since taking over for the injured Christian Ponder, completed 17-of-27 passes for 206 yards. He ran for 49, including gains of 15 and 20 yards on the final drive.

Maryland took its first lead at 19-14 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jamarr Robinson to Adrian Cannon early in the fourth quarter, but Florida State regained the lead when Bert Reed scored on a 42-yard end around.

The game turned around dramatically just before halftime when Wujciak rambled 82 yards with Manuel's interception to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Meggett as the Terrapins pulled within 14-13 seconds before the break.

Wujciak stepped in front of Florida State's Beau Reliford at the Maryland 11 and ended up at the Florida State 7.

Robinson, a sophomore making his second start, completed 20 of 27 passes for 214 yards and was not intercepted.

"He was poised, he made very good decisions," Friedgen said. "I was very impressed."

Florida State finished its home season with a 3-3 record and for the second straight game there were thousands of empty seats despite pregame activities honoring departing senior players and longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

The 68-year-old Andrews was given a new garnet Ford crew cab pickup from his former players. He is retiring at the end of the season after 26 years at Florida State.

There was also a moment of silence in the pressbox before kickoff in memory of veteran Tallahassee Democrat sports writer Steve Ellis, who died Thursday at age 54 nine days after suffering a heart attack. Ellis had covered the Seminoles since 1990 for the newspaper.


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