Despite being without his top three running backs, Bobby Bowden won his 300th game at Florida State with a 24-16 victory against Maryland on Saturday.
With Antone Smith, Jamaal Edwards, and Russell Ball all sidelined due to injury, Florida State moved sophomore Preston Parker from wide receiver to running back. The move paid off as Parker rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
"I have never went into a ballgame in my life without any running backs," Bowden said. "This was the first time I have played a game in 55 years without having one of my three tailbacks able to play."
Bowden said the decision to use Parker was all offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher's.
"Jimbo and them decided the next best thing was to put Parker back there," Bowden said.
Bowden, who has 373 career coaching wins, is assured of keeping his lead over Penn State's Joe Paterno for at least one more week in their long-running competition for the most wins in major college football history.
Following the game, Bowden was presented the game ball by senior Andre Fluellen, who was among 15 scholarship seniors celebrating senior day.
"I was honored to do that and get him his rightful victory," Fluellen said. "He deserves everything he's done here. He's a great man on the field and off the field, so he deserves everything."
With the victory, Florida State (7-4, 4-4 ACC) clinched their 31st consecutive winning season, all under Bowden, while Maryland (5-6, 2-5 ACC) needs a win at North Carolina State next week just to become bowl eligible.
"I feel pretty darn good about winning the ballgame," Bowden said. "I don't know why we went so dadgum dry from the first quarter on, but it seems like we did. Our defense did a good job of keeping them out there."
While the Seminoles struggled offensively in the second half, they came out on fire in the first quarter.
After a Patrick Robinson interception, his team-leading sixth of the season, on Maryland's opening drive, Florida State's offense put together a 26-yard drive. The series ended on a one-yard scramble by Drew Weatherford to give FSU an early 7-0 lead.
Maryland answered with a short drive of their own where Obi Egekeze mae a 46-yard field goal to get the Terrapins on the board.
The lead was quickly expanded by the Seminoles thanks to the legs of Parker. The Seminoles' leading receiver showed his versatility off the bat rushing for 51 yards on his first four carries, including an 18-yard TD that gave the Seminoles a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter.
The Florida State offense continued to put up the points early in the second quarter with their third touchdown in as many drives. Weatherford hooked up with senior wide receiver De'Cody Fagg on a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Seminoles up 21-3.
The Seminoles led 21-6 at the half with Maryland's points coming on a pair of field goals by Egekeze.
Maryland made it interesting in the second half, pulling to within 21-13 midway through the third quarter when Darrius Heyward-Bey scored on a 14-yard pass from Chris Turner.
"I was upset at half," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I got after them. I told them that we weren't playing the way that we can play. I told them to go out and play like you know how to play and we can win this game. I thought we played a little better in the second half. Again, we just didn't have enough to make the play that you have to make."
With the margin narrowing, Florida State answered with a 30-yard field goal from Gary Cismesia early in the fourth quarter.
Maryland's Egekeze added a third field goal for the Terrapins in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.
Turner completed 16 of 32 passes for 242 yards, but threw a costly interception and was sacked four times. Florida State had five total sacks against Maryland who turned to quarterback Jordan Steffy at one point during the first half.
As for the Seminoles, Weatherford bounced back from a concussion that knocked him out of last week's game to complete 16-of-26 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown, his first rushing touchdown of the season.
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