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Hurricanes' tribute to Pata comes on field

Miami rallies but falls to Maryland 14-13 five days after the shooting death of senior Bryan Pata.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 12, 2006


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - In a season filled with negatives, Miami regained a measure of respect in an emotionally draining defeat.

Playing five days after the shooting death of teammate Bryan Pata, the Hurricanes performed valiantly before falling 14-13 to No. 23 Maryland on Saturday.

Trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, Miami could have quit. Instead, the Hurricanes banded together and gave the Terrapins all they could handle until the comeback bid finally ended on a fumbled punt with 74 seconds left.

"I really felt like Bryan Pata would have been proud of the effort our team showed tonight," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I'm very proud of the way they fought back. It says a lot."

Pata was killed outside his apartment complex after Tuesday's practice. He appeared in 41 games with the Hurricanes, starting 23, and was a big part of a unit that came in ranked third in the nation in rushing defense.

Miami carried on in his absence, limiting the Terrapins to 56 yards rushing.

The Hurricanes decided to play the game because, as many players put it, Pata would have wanted it that way.

"All of us were so close to him. It's pretty hard to take that he was there one minute and not there the next," said quarterback Kirby Freeman, who went 14-for-27 for 140 yards and ran for a team-best 78 yards in his first career start. Freeman replaced the injured Kyle Wright.

Miami closed to 14-13 before getting the ball at the Maryland 43 with 4:20 to go.

"On that last drive we had several guys saying, 'Let's win this thing for Bryan,' " Freeman said.

But Trey Covington intercepted a deflected pass at the Maryland 32 to end the drive. Miami then forced a punt, but Bruce Johnson fumbled the kick and the Terrapins recovered before running out the clock.

Maryland held on for its fifth straight win despite making only six first downs.

"I take my hat off to Miami," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said. "They played really well under a very tough situation."

As a show of their admiration for the Hurricanes' grit, the Terrapins voted to donate their per diem to the Pata family.

To remember Pata, the Hurricanes wore decals with his number (95) on their helmets. Pata's viewing is scheduled for Monday night, his funeral is Tuesday and there'll be an on-campus memorial service Wednesday.

Maryland guard Donnie Woods injured his neck in the third quarter. He was taken off on a stretcher and airlifted to a hospital. He was able to move his arms and legs before being taken from the field, Friedgen said.