MIAMI — Stephen Morris tumbled to the turf as he threw his final pass of the day then waited on the crowd's reaction to learn if he had connected.
A roar confirmed it: Miami 26, Maryland 20.
The freshman produced a big finish in his first start Saturday, throwing a 35-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left for the victory.
"You can't call him a rookie anymore," Miami defensive back Ray-Ray Armstrong said. "He's not a freshman. He stepped up at a key time. He made that last pass perfect."
The throw to Leonard Hankerson capped an 82-yard drive that began with 3:06 left.
"Great throw, great catch," coach Randy Shannon said. "I'll take that."
Thanks to the comeback, the Hurricanes overcame a ragged performance, kept alive their slim hopes in the ACC race and became bowl-eligible.
"It's do or die for us," Armstrong said. "We can't lose any more. Every game is must win."
Maryland led most of the game despite being outgained 504-254 but couldn't come up with a stop on Miami's final drive.
"I'm really disappointed for our players," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I just hope that with the type of kids we have, we'll come back and not let this define our season."
The Terrapins' goal was to make Morris, filling in for the injured Jacory Harris, beat them, and he did. He saw an interception returned for a touchdown but finished 18-for-30 for 286 yards.
"Throughout the game, he was very calm, saying, 'Let's go. Let's make plays,' " Hankerson said. "The last drive he was the same way."
Working with no timeouts, Morris threw a completion on third and 2, then converted a third and 11 with a 16-yard scramble. On the next play, he was hit as he threw deep to Hankerson, who pulled away from two defenders and caught the ball over his shoulder just before crossing the goal line.
"A perfect throw," Maryland safety Antwine Perez said. "It was a great play for a young kid."
Morris credited offensive coordinator Mark Whipple for the play selection.
"I knew when he called it, the play would work," Morris said. "The rest was just Hank doing what he does best."
Hankerson said Morris was breathless with excitement by the time he reached the end zone to join his teammates' celebration.
"When he threw the ball, he got hit, so he said he couldn't see it," Hankerson said. "He was waiting on the crowd. And when he heard the crowd go off he knew it was a touchdown."
Lamar Miller ran for the two-point conversion. Maryland drove to the Miami 30 before Danny O'Brien's pass into the end zone was incomplete on the final play.
The Hurricanes had possession for nearly 37 minutes, but their mistakes kept the game close. A botched hold foiled their first extra point, and Joe Vellano blocked the second try.
A seasonlong problem with penalties persisted — the Hurricanes had 10 for 100 yards — and they used all of their second-half timeouts in the third quarter.
"Today was just about getting the ball in the hands of our playmakers," Morris said.
He was one of them.