BY MIKE VORKUNOV
COLLEGE PARK, MD — Joe Lefeged is a Maryland native, but whether he is welcome in the state anymore is up for debate. Playing his home state's state school for the second time in his three years at Rutgers, he once again made his presence known.
Two years ago he knocked quarterback Jordan Steffy out of the game with a hit so vicious that Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen complained after the game that it was intentionally malicious on the part of Lefeged.
Chris Turner had to come in for Steffy to finish out the game, as he led Maryland on a come from behind win at Rutgers Stadium.This time Lefeged was able to get his hands on Turner, and ensure there was no second straight victory for Turner. He sacked Turner in the endzone and caused a fumble that led to the decisive touchdown.
"We work on turnovers every day in practice," Lefeged said of the play. "You want to be a great defense you have to get turnovers."
But Lefeged did not know that his part of the play would end in a touchdown. He started celebrating before George Johnson scored because he knew it was going to be a safety or sack.
As for getting to the quarterback twice against the Terps, the other time being when he caused an interception caught by Billy Anderson, Lefeged couldn't resist showing his true emotions.
"It was a lot of fun," he said, with a big grin on his face.
Playing in front of 15 friends and family members, Lefeged had a lot to celebrate about. The junior was a fan of Maryland growing up, particularly running back Lamont Jordan. But he never got a scholarship offer in high school.
Instead he ended up at Rutgers, where he is "happy to be" and has chosen to make the best of his opportunities when he's on the opposite side of the field of Maryland.
The pangs of pain, the jubilation of success. George Johnson felt each one in succession on one play during the third quarter as he scored the touchdown that put Rutgers ahead for good, 17-13, against Maryland.
After Joe Lefeged strip-sacked Chris Turner in his own endzone, it left a loose football on the ground with a touchdown as the reward for whoever got to it first. Johnson jumped on the fumble, but he wasn't the only one.
"All I know is I picked up the ball and everybody comes for my ankle like my ankle is the ball," Johnson said afterward.
But Johnson had the ball underneath him, even if he didn't know it at first.
"First thing I felt was pain because I didn't know if I scored or not," Johnson said of the order of his emotions. "I didn't know where the ball was until everybody started celebrating. That took the pain away."
Johnson was on crutches following the game, with what coach Greg Schiano called a "lower-extremity" injury.
Still the pain was worth it for him.
"Yeah now that I know I scored a touchdown, I'm pretty excited about it.
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