In the aftermath of Saturday's flawed victory, Maryland players knew all too well that they will be reminded by coaches this week of their many mistakes -- the fumbles, penalties and all the other errors that remain part of the identity of a young team still finding its way.
But, for a few moments at least, the Terrapins were able to savor their first Atlantic Coast Conference victory in 13 months.
The come-from-behind, 19-14 victory over Wake Forest enabled the Terps (3-2, 1-0 ACC) to surpass their win total from last season and end a string of seven straight ACC losses.
The win -- aided by stout defense and another big play from freshman receiver Stefon Diggs -- seemed to push last season's struggles further into the past.
"We made a lot of mistakes," said Diggs, who made one of his own by fumbling a punt in the third quarter -- the second one he has lost this season. "We're going to hear about it tomorrow. But it's good to get a 'W,' man. It's big, and it builds team camaraderie and chemistry."
The last time Maryland won an ACC game before Saturday was in the 2011 opener when Miami came to town without eight players who were suspended for receiving impermissible benefits.
The Wake Forest game provided the Terps with an opportunity against a similarly depleted team without six players who were suspended for undisclosed violations of team rules. The Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-3 ACC) were also without Michael Campanaro (River Hill), who led the ACC in receiving before breaking his hand last week against Duke.
"Six or seven starters, not just players weren't in the game," Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock said. "That really hurt us."
Maryland, which surrendered a 73-yard touchdown pass on the third play from scrimmage, limited the Demon Deacons to 241 yards. Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price completed just 13 of 38 passes.
Maryland trailed, 14-13, after Diggs, who surpassed 100 receiving yards for the second game in a row, lost a fumble on a punt. The Deacons followed the muff by driving 24 yards, making it 14-13 on fullback Tommy Bohanon's 7-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter.
"I had time, but I peeked [downfield]," Diggs said of the punt. "I took my eyes off it, and I saw that I had at least one second. There was a little bit of wind, but there's no excuse at all."
Still trailing by one point, Maryland faced second and 18 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Perry Hills threw a short pass to Diggs, who eluded tacklers and raced down the right sideline for 63 yards to the Wake Forest 3.
Tailback Justus Pickett was marked down at the 1-yard line on the next play.
"We all felt that I kind of scored there, but that's not what [the] refs saw," Pickett said. "We were going to punch it and we were going to run it right down their throats."
Pickett dove into the end zone on third down, giving Maryland a 19-14 lead with 5:37 remaining. The extra point was missed.
Maryland sealed the game on the next series. Wake Forest went for it on fourth and 15 from its 18-yard line, but linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield sacked Price and the Terps took over.
Maryland hoped to take advantage of Wake Forest's porous run defense. The Terps had two new starters true freshman Mike Madaras and redshirt freshman Andrew Zeller on the offensive line.
Wake Forest entered the game last in the conference in rush defense and tied for last in the ACC in scoring defense (33.4 points per game).
But Maryland struggled to open holes for its tailbacks. In the first half, the Terps had 17 carries for 16 yards. Maryland finished with 53 rushing yards and Hills was under constant pressure.
The Terps fumbled four times, losing two, and Hills threw an interception. Maryland was penalized eight times for 55 yards.
Maryland coach Randy Edsall hinted after the game that he may make changes in offensive personnel.
Edsall said of Hills, who threw for 191 yards: "Perry has to get more consistent. I love Perry to death, but he is missing some things out there. He could make it a lot easier on himself and be a lot more efficient offensively if he goes where he is supposed to with the ball and make some better reads."
The backup quarterback, Devin Burns, has only played one snap, rushing for 17 yards against West Virginia. "We had talked about maybe getting Devin in there before the [Wake Forest] game, but the situation never presented itself," Edsall said.
After surrendering a quick touchdown, the Terps cut the margin to 7-6 on first-quarter field goals by freshman Brad Craddock from 49 and 52 yards. Craddock's second field goal was Maryland's longest since Travis Baltz's 52-yarder in 2010. Craddock later missed a 47-yard attempt and an extra point.
Leading 7-6, Wake Forest drove to the Maryland 1-yard line but running back Josh Harris was halted by several Terps for no gain on a fourth-down run.
"Huge," Edsall said of the goal-line stop.
It was one of the plays the Terps could celebrate before they began dissecting the game film and trying to fix their mistakes.
"We have a lot of things we still need to clean up, but I will take the win," Edsall said.
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