CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. --- Maryland went down this path not long ago on the road.
Maybe most of the Terrapins' players didn't remember it. Then again, they probably don't remember much success too far from College Park, anyway, so recalling a remarkably bad collapse --- the 2007 meltdown at Wake Forest that saw Maryland blow a 21-point lead --- was something left to the head coach.
"I had visions of Wake Forest from a couple years ago. ...," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I never sensed that from them. There was almost another resolve they were going to get this done. That's not easy to do."
Maryland built a 17-point lead lead entering the fourth quarter, then survived with a pair of fourth-down stands to outlast Boston College 24-21 before 36,078 at Alumni Stadium.
"When it was all said and done and we needed top have that last-minute stop, our players rose up and made some plays," Friedgen said. "We got a good win, five wins right now, and we feel pretty good about ourselves."
As well the Terrapins (5-2, 2-1 ACC) probably should.
No one is confusing Maryland for a juggernaut. The Terps were outgained in all four of their victories against Division I-A opposition. The two ACC teams they defeated are a combined 0-8 in conference play.
But Maryland does one thing exceptionally well: Stop opponents on fourth down in the closing minutes of games.
The Terp defense has denied five of seven fourth-down tries in the final five minutes this season. Overall, opponents are 7-for-15 on fourth down
FOURTH DOWN DEFENSE IN LAST FIVE MINUTES, MARYLAND 2010
G/(1): Dobbs 0 run (Navy)
9/(44): Carroll 8 run (Florida International)
2/(49): Renfree-Kelly 5 pass (Duke)
15/(38): Renfree-incomplete (Duke)
1/(36): Boyd-Nobles 13 pass (Clemson)
3/(41): Rettig-incomplete (Boston College)
1/44: Harris 0 run (Boston College)
The stop of the Eagles' Montel Harris was particularly pivotal on Saturday --- and Maryland saw the play coming.
"The guards were kind of giving away their stances the whole game, so the two guards were pretty heavy up front," linebacker Alex Wujciak said. "I think we knew they were going to run the ball. Coach [Don] Brown had an awesome call for it."
Interestingly enough, Brown didn't sense it coming. But he had a personnel group in that was versatile, and linebacker Adrian Moten and defensive tackle Joe Vellano combined to halt Harris shy of the first down.
"That was not a run-stop defense," said Brown, Maryland's defensive coordinator. "It was more of a defense that plays well against the run and plays well against the pass. It's become kind of a staple for us. That wasn't Custer's Last Stand right there, but obviously we could get off the field, we'd take it."
All that was left was for Maryland to kneel twice and escape with its first road victory in more than two years. It snapped a 10-game skid in true road games and an eight-game slide in conference tests away from Byrd Stadium.
Even if Maryland was perilously close to a rerun of that 2007 Wake Forest game, things didn't quite get that bad. And that's all that really mattered to Friedgen.
"I wish we could make 'em easier," Friedgen said. "That's the next thing we probably need to learn. but as long as we're winning, I'll take them any way we can get them."