Maryland Terps

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant could finally be arriving

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant could finally be arriving

IRVING, Texas (AP) Great one game. Hard to find the next. A scene at the mall one year. Trouble with the law the next.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant is the riddle many had feared when character issues allowed the Cowboys to take one of the best players in the 2010 draft late in the first round.

Don't look now, but Bryant has multiple 100-yard receiving games for the first time as a pro, and is coming off a career-high 145 yards and a critical fourth-quarter touchdown against Cleveland. Barring injury or another twist to the story, he'll probably have his first 1,000-yard season.

Now is as good a time as any to ask whether Bryant is finally arriving in his third season, though not even the ultimate Cowboys optimist is ready to give a definitive answer.

``The risk here is that he's in the glaring spotlight of being on the field and off the field for the Cowboys,'' owner Jerry Jones said. ``So I'm reluctant that, we all are, to say that he's doing good. Dez is doing better.''

Forget the numbers for a moment. The day after a potential resolution was announced in a domestic dispute with his mother, Bryant all but invited reporters to his locker so he could declare himself ready to put the ``focus on football'' - a phrase he repeated so often it made him laugh. Laughter of the right sort has been in short supply around Bryant most of his young pro career.

Three days later, he was there when Tony Romo needed him late in the game, matching the steady and reliable Jason Witten with three catches in the fourth quarter, including a 28-yard score that put Dallas ahead, and adding two more in overtime in the 23-20 Dallas win. Romo ended up throwing his way 15 times, and Bryant had 12 catches.

Afterward, Bryant was already talking about trying to do it again in Thursday's Thanksgiving game against Washington.

``With a win, it feels good,'' Bryant said. ``Just got to put it behind me and get ready for Washington.''

The previous two games at Cowboys Stadium, Bryant cost Romo an interception each time by not doing what his quarterback thought he would. Not that this time.

``He ran good routes, he was at his right depth and you see the kind of player he can be when he plays football at the level that he can,'' Romo said. ``That's exciting to see his work ethic paying off.''

Few have questioned how hard Bryant works in practice, but there have always been questions about how much time he spent with the playbook. The issue of judgment was even larger, mostly because the Cowboys knew it could be.

He lost most of his final college season at Oklahoma State when the NCAA suspended him after he lied about having dinner with former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders. He was criticized for missing team meetings and failing to bring the right shoes to his pro timing day.

Draft day was rough, too, because his name kept falling after he was projected as a top 10 pick. Despair turned to delight when the kid from East Texas was taken by the Cowboys at No. 24.

His first season in Dallas was uneventful - on the field, too. He missed four games and finished with just 561 yards even though he had a 100-yard game.

Then the trouble started. He was kicked out of an upscale Dallas mall in early 2011 for wearing his pants too low, and a week later, lawsuits surfaced alleging that he had nearly $1 million in unpaid bills from jewelry and game tickets, mostly racked up before he signed a five-year contract with $8.3 million in guaranteed money.

Another spotty season on the field in 2011 was followed by the most serious incident, this one involving his arrest last summer. According to an affidavit filed by police in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, Bryant struck his mother, Angela Bryant, in the face with a ball cap and grabbed her T-shirt.

Bryant's mom didn't want to press charges, and prosecutors announced a deal last week that could lead to the dismissal of a misdemeanor family violence charge if Bryant isn't arrested and regularly attends anger management counseling for the next year.

Witten isn't sure a resolution of the case is the reason Bryant seems ready to be the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver. He just knows it's looking that way, particularly after Bryant helped beat the Browns with so many catches on shorter routes, not usually his strength.

``That's the other part of being a receiver,'' Witten said. ``He understands, `Hey, I'm a go-to guy.' And you know that he wants to be really, really good.''

Bryant is still having some of those ill-advised moments, like a play against Cleveland where he easily could have run for a first down and inexplicably stepped out of bounds a yard short when defenders closed in. Afterward, he acknowledged he wasn't sure where the first-down marker was, although he was also trying to follow the advice of coaches not to always take on tacklers.

Three weeks ago, he followed his second 100-yard game of the season with one catch in a big Sunday night game at Atlanta.

``I'm hoping he disappears,'' Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said with a laugh. ``No, he's a tremendous athlete. I think everybody knows that.''

The question is whether he can be that go-to guy - all the time.

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Maryland goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

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Maryland goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Relentlessly zipping up and down the field, ninth-ranked Ohio State and upstart Maryland were racking up yards and points at a dizzying pace.

Finally, the Terrapins were presented with the chance to end it -- one way or another.

A gutsy decision by Maryland interim coach Matt Canada did not achieve the desired results, and the Buckeyes avoided one of the most stunning upsets in this college football season by squeezing out a 52-51 victory in overtime on Saturday.

After a 5-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Haskins gave the Buckeyes a seven-point lead to start overtime, Tayon Fleet-Davis scored for the Terrapins. Canada opted to keep his offense on the field to attempt a 2-point conversion, and Tyrrell Pigrome's pass to Jeshaun Jones was off target .

"It was a gut call," Canada said. "I felt like they were scoring, we were scoring. We had the ball, we had to make one play to win. Obviously it didn't work. I wasn't trying to be aggressive. I was just trying to win."

After watching his defense allow 535 yards and seven touchdowns, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer understood why Canada opted to win it right there.

"I would have probably done the same thing if I was their coach, the way they were gaining yards on us," Meyer said. "I'm relieved we won."

Favored by 14 points, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) trailed by two touchdowns in the third quarter and 45-38 with under two minutes left before rallying.

The victory kept the Buckeyes in the hunt for the Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State concludes the regular season next week in a game against Michigan that will decide the Big Ten East winner.

After describing the performance of his defense as "alarming," Meyer said, "But we won. Let's go back to work and get ready for next week."

The Buckeyes never led until overtime against the gritty Terrapins (5-6, 3-5), who have made the most of a season dedicated to teammate Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June. The players teamed together under the guidance of Canada, who maintained his role of offensive coordinator after taking over for head coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave in August, reinstated on Oct. 30 and fired on Oct. 31.

On this day, the Terps traded blows with one of the best teams in the nation, and stuck in it to the end.

"I wish we had been a little bit better on the last play," Canada said. "It's a tough day. We put a lot into this."

Pigrome was making his first start of the season after Kasim Hill sustained a season-ending knee injury last week. He went 6 for 13 for 181 yards.

Haskins ran for three touchdowns and was 28 for 38 for 405 yards and three TDs. Ohio State finished with a whopping 688 yards, including 203 on the ground by J.K. Dobbins.

All that offense meant nothing until Pigrome's pass went about six inches wide of his intended target.

"For us to stop them on a 2-point conversion, a whole bunch of emotions just came out of me," Haskins said. "All that grit, all that adversity we faced in this game, to come back on top just meant everything for myself and my teammates."

Maryland freshman Anthony McFarland had touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards in the first quarter and finished with 298 yards rushing -- seven short of the school's single-game record.

The Terps took a 45-38 lead when Chigoziem Okonkwo recovered a fumble by McFarland in the end zone with 1:41 left. Haskins then orchestrated a 50-yard, beat-the-clock drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victory with 40 seconds remaining.

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Terps show resiliency, but fall shy of major upset against Ohio State

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Terps show resiliency, but fall shy of major upset against Ohio State

So. That game, huh? Where do you even begin after a game like that?

The Maryland Terrapins, playing in their home finale, on Senior Day, against top-10 ranked Ohio State, put up one heck of a fight. The Terps got touchdown runs of 75 and 81 yards from Anthony McFarland, the redshirt freshman running back sensation who accumulated 299 yards on the day. His brief exit after a shoulder injury is the only reason he didn't reach 300, and is likely the only reason he still sits at second all-time in Maryland history for rushing yards in a single game, instead of first.

The defense shined as well. It's a strange thing to say after a team gives up 52 points, but they clamped down on OSU throughout the first half, and recorded three takeaways, enough to give them a chance at the win. It was all you could have asked for.

Tyrrell Pigrome also had some incredible moments on the day. The only pass he completed in the first half (seriously, the Terps led at halftime despite completing just ONE pass), was a 56-yard bomb that fell perfectly into the hands of Dontay Demus. Pigrome could not have placed it more perfectly if he had walked it to Demus and handed it to him. It was a thing of beauty, and wouldn't be the only deep pass Pigrome made look effortless today.

Unfortunately, despite the many, many highs for Maryland today, what will probably be remembered is the lowest low. Unfortunately for Pigrome, it also came from him.

In the first overtime, Maryland elected to start on defense. The unit actually held up decently well, but an untimely penalty and a bold fourth-down call gave the Buckeyes all they needed to go up seven.

The Terps struck quickly with Anthony McFarland immediately bursting forward for 24 yards. It appeared he might have had a touchdown, but it was overturned. The Terps scored on the next play, and without hesitation, interim head coach Matt Canada decided to go for a two point conversion and the win.

Considering that the Terps were two touchdown underdogs entering the day, and that the Buckeyes had scored touchdowns on four straight possessions, and how dominant the run game had been all afternoon, it was easy to agree with Canada's call.

The play design even worked splendidly, as Pigrome rolled to his right and had an underneath pass available to Tayon Fleet-Davis, or a wide open Jeshaun Jones sitting in the end zone. Pigrome opted for Jones, but anticipated the freshman wide receiver would keep moving to his right, and the ball sailed past the outstretched hands of the diving wideout. Perhaps a more seasoned quarterback-receiver duo would have been more in sync, but Pigrome, in his first start of the season, didn't have that luxury.

Right decision. Right play call. Wrong page. Game over.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as is always the case, some fans on Twitter were perplexed. Why go for two at home? Why not try to let Ohio State make a mistake on the road, especially when they'd been so sloppy all afternoon?

The truth is, Maryland needed to win this game in regulation, and they couldn't do it. Then, they managed to fight back yet again during this trying year, and put themselves in a position to win with just two yards.

If you asked Canada, Pigrome, McFarland, and every other person in Maryland Stadium today if they'd take a one play opportunity from the two-yard line to beat Ohio State, but you'd lose if you didn't convert, every one of them to a man would have taken that chance.

Disappointing results shouldn't detract from the correct process. This was the best-coached game Canada had all season long (or at the very worst since the opener against Texas) and the final call was no exception.

Ultimately, Maryland fans will move past the loss as they would any other. They'll move on to the Penn State game, or to Maryland Basketball, or the Redskins or Ravens in Week 11. It's only sports, after all, and there's always another game.

If there's anyone to feel for, it's the kids who have proudly worn the Maryland flag on their jerseys every game day this season. The kids who have lost more than most fans can truly appreciate, who have been betrayed by the men who were supposed to look after them. The kids who have inspired fans across the country with their pride, their resolve, and their bond with their brothers. The kids who have given it their all at every opportunity, and represented the university with the utmost honor, who have made alumni proud every single day.

They fought harder than ever before, and it's a darn shame that they fell short on such an emotional day. Hopefully, they can once again fight back and show how much heart they have next week against Penn State.

Based on all we've seen this season, I'd be surprised if they didn't.