N. Illinois tops Terps

No. 15 Maryland dumped in season opener, 20-13

? The ball bounced off the leg of a defender, fluttered into the air and landed softly in the hands of a surprised Randee Drew — a fitting ending to a wild shocker.

Northern Illinois stunned No. 15 Maryland, 20-13, in overtime Thursday night, a victory capped when Drew intercepted Scott McBrien’s long pass near the end zone.

The pass, intended for Latrez Harrison, hit defensive back Rob Lee in the leg as he fell backward and shot into the air.

Waiting underneath to grab it was Drew.

“Everything was in slow motion,” Drew said. “One of them fell and kicked the ball and it came right to me. I guess (they) just put me in the right spot at the right time.”

It took the Huskies a moment to realize what had happened. When they did, the entire team rushed the field to celebrate only their third win ever over a ranked team.

Even after the game, coach Joe Novak was still confused.

“Could somebody tell me what happened?” Novak said. “All I know is everyone said we won, so I was going to go along with it.”

Northern Illinois got the ball first in overtime and scored three plays later when Josh Haldi threw a 20-yard touchdown to Dan Sheldon. Sheldon caught Haldi’s pass at the 15, spun around a defender and raced into the end zone for the game-winning score.

Miami running back Frank Gore (32) is tackled by Louisiana Tech free safety Michael Johnson. The third-ranked Hurricanes cruised in their season opener, 48-9, Thursday night in Shreveport, La.

Haldi was 21-for-35 for 266 yards and two TDs.

Northern Illinois had a chance to win the game in regulation but Steve Azar’s 43-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by Madieu Williams with 1.3 seconds left.

The attempt was set up by a roughing the passer call on D’Qwell Jackson, one of several costly penalties against the Terrapins.

Maryland is the highest-ranked opponent Northern Illinois has ever beaten. The Huskies defeated No. 20 Bowling Green last year, and knocked off No. 24 Fresno State in 1990.

It also got the Huskies off to a strong start on a tough non-conference schedule. After a game at Tennessee Tech, Northern Illinois plays at Alabama before playing host to Iowa State.

“I told the kids before we played, win, lose or draw, let’s enjoy the moment. We’re on national TV, we’re playing a ranked team,” Novak said. “I think they did, and they’re enjoying the moment even more now.”

The Terrapins couldn’t have liked it any less.

Maryland led 13-10 in the fourth quarter when the Huskies reeled off an 18-play, 84-yard drive that ate up 7:58 and tied the game.

Running back Michael Turner, held in check for most of the game, had 37 yards on eight carries during the drive. Haldi completed a 24-yard pass to Keith Perry to set up Azar’s 25-yard field goal with 1:12 remaining. That drive also was prolonged by two Maryland penalties, including a late hit on Andrew Smith that negated a Maryland sack deep in Northern Illinois territory.

In all, Maryland was called for nine penalties for 90 yards.

“I thought we did a lot of foolish things that really hurt us. We didn’t make the plays that we needed to make,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We had opportunities, we just didn’t make them.”

Northern Illinois receiver P.J. Fleck had 12 receptions for 113 yards, and Turner finished with 90 yards rushing on 30 carries.

No. 3 Miami 48, Louisiana Tech 9

Shreveport, La. — Antrel Rolle returned an interception and a punt for touchdowns and Frank Gore ran for 118 yards for No. 3 Miami.

The game marked the starting debut of Miami’s new big three on offense — quarterback Brock Berlin, Gore and wide receiver Ryan Moore.

The trio performed well, but has a long way to go to keep Hurricanes fans from missing Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson.

Making his Miami debut in his hometown, Berlin, a transfer from Florida, was 14-for-28 for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Gore, who missed all of last season after major knee surgery, had 21 carries and caught two passes for 33 yards.

Moore, a red-shirt freshman, caught four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Luke McCown was 16-for-26 for 195 yards with two INTs.