RALEIGH, N.C. -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen saw a rainbow at practice last week, desperately hoping it was a positive sign for a team he said has been rained on all season, both in a literal and metaphorical sense.
Sure enough, the skies were bright blue over Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday. But the Terps couldn't part the dark clouds of their season, losing starting quarterback Chris Turner to a second-quarter knee injury and falling, 38-31, to a North Carolina State team that hadn't won an Atlantic Coast Conference game in four previous tries.
Needing a touchdown to tie, Maryland moved to the N.C. State 42 in the final minute. But backup quarterback Jamarr Robinson threw incomplete on the game's final play after being rushed hard and hit by defensive end Michael Lemon.
The loss ensured Maryland's fourth losing season in six years and guaranteed that the Terps would not participate in a bowl game.
"Sometimes in life you go through periods like this," Friedgen said. He said he told his players how - as offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in the late 1980s - his team struggled and he feared he could get fired. At the same time, weather forecasters predicted Hurricane Hugo could veer toward his family home in South Carolina.
"So I said [to the players], 'Things were bad then, too,' " Friedgen said. His house was spared and the team went on a roll. "When it turns around, it can turn around quickly," he said.
The Terps (2-7, 1-4 ACC) lost because, like many teams before them, they struggled to contain N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, who passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns. They lost because they missed two field goals, couldn't capitalize enough on four Wolfpack turnovers and had no experienced backup quarterback to keep pace with N.C. State's offense after Turner went down with an medial collateral ligament injury.
Turner, a fifth-year senior, was injured in the second quarter. With Maryland trailing 24-21, he was hit on an incomplete pass on third-and-19 from his 33.
Turner limped toward the tunnel shortly afterward, stopping and motioning to be helped the rest of the way. He emerged in the second half wearing black sweats and a black T-shirt, leaving quarterback duties to Robinson, a redshirt sophomore who hadn't thrown a pass in his career.
"I've seen third-degree MCLs come back in a week or two weeks," Friedgen said of Turner's injury. "If it's worse [he's] probably done."
Robinson said he's preparing to be the starter next week against Virginia Tech.
"[Turner] could play, I don't know. But I'm preparing now more realistically than I have in the past as the starter."
Robinson said he had been planning to play Saturday anyway, but only for a "couple plays now and then." He said he didn't see Turner go down.
Robinson dropped his first snap from center, but Maryland recovered. He didn't throw a pass until the second half when he threw two incompletions, then overthrew an open LaQuan Williams in the end zone with the Terps trailing 31-28. Nick Ferrara then missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt that could have tied the game.
Robinson later led a 15-play, fourth-quarter drive. Ferrara capped it with a 31-yard field goal, making it 38-31.
"Yeah, he was nervous," Friedgen said of Robinson. "He had two three-and-outs and then the third time he moved the ball and we got it down there and made the field goal. I think he got better as he went on."
Friedgen said there was discussion among coaches about playing O'Brien in the second half. But Robinson played all four series in the half, completing five of 11 passes for 27 yards and running nine times for 54 yards, excluding yardage lost in sacks.
"The differences between the quarterbacks [Turner and Robinson] is night and day," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "It was a whole new style of offense once Robinson came in the game."
Maryland stayed in the game with big plays and interceptions.
Trailing 14-7, the Terps tied it when linebacker Alex Wujciak, Maryland's leading tackler, stepped in front of tight end George Bryan to pick off a pass from Wilson. He returned it 70 yards for Maryland's first defensive touchdown since linebacker Erin Henderson got one in 2006.
An even longer play kept the Terps close in the third quarter.
Torrey Smith's 82-yard kickoff return touchdown - his second of the season and school-record third of his career - cut N.C. State's lead to 31-28 with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
N.C. State extended the lead to 38-28 on a 2-yard run by Jamelle Eugene with 13:39 left in the game. Soon afterward, the Wolfpack fans - many here for a sunny homecoming weekend - celebrated the team's first win in more than a month. Maryland's last two contests had been played in the rain.
N.C. State entered the game at 3-5 (0-4, ACC) and having surrendered more than 1,500 yards in its past three contests. The Wolfpack and Maryland have both been injury-prone.
Maryland lost defensive end Isaiah Ross on Saturday to a knee injury in the first half. Maryland defensive tackle Travis Ivey said Ross was "speared" on the play, which Friedgen said should have resulted in an ejection. Friedgen said Ross suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and is done for the year.
14 7 7 3-31
17 7 7 7-38
First quarter NCSt-Bryan 17 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 14:08. Md-Meggett 1 run (Ferrara kick), 10:25. NCSt-Bowens 35 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 8:53. Md-Wujciak 70 interception return (Ferrara kick), 4:57. NCSt-FG Czajkowski 48, :51. Second quarter Md-Turner 1 run (Ferrara kick), 12:52. NCSt-Davis 18 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 7:02. Third quarter NCSt-R.Wilson 2 run (Czajkowski kick), 10:19. Md-Smith 82 kickoff return (Ferrara kick), 10:09. Fourth quarter NCSt-Eugene 2 run (Czajkowski kick), 13:39. Md-FG Ferrara 31, 4:56. A-55,631.
First downs 14 31
Rushes-Yards 27-108 41-139
Passing 162 343
Cmp.-Att.-Int. 17-33-1 25-38-3
Return Yards 97 24
Punts-Avg. 3-43.7 1-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-Yds. 10-91 3-10
Time of poss. 25:05 34:55
Rushing-Maryland, Robinson 9-38, Porzel 4-31, Meggett 9-24, Turner 2-7, Logan 1-5, Tyler 1-5, Team 1-(minus 2). N.C. State, Baker 19-75, Eugene 12-52, R.Wilson 9-11, Spencer 1-1. Passing-Maryland, Turner 12-19-1-135, Robinson 5-11-0-27, Team 0-2-0-0, Williams 0-1-0-0. N.C. State, R.Wilson 25-38-3-343. Receiving-Maryland, Smith 8-64, Cannon 3-41, Tyler 2-33, D.Campbell 2-13, Jackson 2-11. N.C. State, Ja.Williams 7-107, Davis 4-54, Spencer 3-59, Baker 3-21, Howard 2-20, T.Gentry 2-16, Bowens 1-35, Bryan 1-17, Eugene 1-9, J.Smith 1-5.
VIRGINIA TECH @MARYLAND
Time: 1 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM