CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- If this was goodbye, then it was one great send-off party.
The University of Maryland, in the school's biggest football upset in six years, scored 28 second-half points, as the Terps stunned No. 8 Virginia, 35-30, yesterday before 43,500 at Scott Stadium.
The game could have been the last for Maryland coach Joe Krivak, who, in the fourth and final year of his contract, will meet with athletic director Andy Geiger tomorrow for an evaluation of the program.
But Krivak, who has an 18-25-1 career record, certainly makes Geiger's decision difficult. Yesterday's victory gave Maryland (6-5 overall, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) its first winning season since 1985 and put the Terps back in the bowl picture.
Maryland also may have gotten a glimpse of some future stars, as freshman running back Mark Mason rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries, and freshman linebacker Louis Johnson made the play of the game by sacking Shawn Moore of Virginia (8-2, 5-2) at the Maryland 6 on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 1 minute, 47 seconds left in the game.
But this game and the day belonged to Krivak, 55. He seemed to make all the right calls. He gambled and won on a fourth-and-one at his 29 late in the first period. He got a first down on a fake punt that eventually led to a touchdown in the third.
And he called for quarterback Scott Zolak to throw a long pass into the wind that resulted in a 71-yard pass to wide receiver Marcus Badgett, and a play later, the winning touchdown, on an 8-yard run around right end by Mason with 11:23 left in the game, which gave Maryland a 35-28 lead.
Was Krivak that desperate to save his job? "No," said Krivak.
But Geiger got a message.
"This was a statement game," said Geiger. "This shows that there is some substance to this program when you go out and beat a team like this."
Enough to save the coach's job?
"I don't want to get into that right now," said Geiger. "I have a meeting with Joe Monday, and we'll talk. But this was a big win, a big win."
Krivak didn't talk about his status. And who could blame him? It's not every day you beat the No. 8 team in the country, one that previously was ranked No. 1. This game was the biggest win for Maryland against a ranked team since the Terps beat Miami, 42-40, Nov. 10, 1984.
"I've been around a lot of teams that have won lots of games, but this is the biggest win for me," said Krivak. "This is something the kids, the coaching staff and I can look back on the rest of our lives.
"I told the kids not to go out and try to win for me, but to win for the guy next to you, the other 70 to 80 guys on this football team," said Krivak. "We're very proud of the way we played. Virginia is a great football team."
Krivak declined to talk about his job status, but his players had something to say about it.
Maryland inside linebacker Glenn Page said: "It at least makes them take another look. I think the coach is a great man and he should return."
Maryland cornerback Scott Rosen said: "We were playing for him, and it was a very emotional game, We weren't going to let anybody down today."
It was hard to tell that from the first half. Virginia, which entered the game with the nation's top offense, averaging 529.9 yards, scored on three of its first five possessions for a 21-7 halftime lead.
The game seemed as if it were going to be a Virginia rout. The Cavaliers had 255 yards of offense in the first half compared with 172 for Maryland. Virginia had 21 first downs. Maryland had only seven, and the Terps running game was struggling with only 55 yards on 22 attempts.
"Coach said at halftime, 'Remember Georgia Tech, remember Georgia Tech,' " said Maryland cornerback Michael Hollis, referring to Virginia blowing its 14-point halftime lead before losing to the Yellow Jackets, 41-38.
On Virginia's third offensive play of the third quarter, Page hit Moore, who fumbled, and Maryland nose guard Rick Fleece recovered at the Virginia 19. Four plays later, Zolak, who played perhaps his best game of the season, completing 20 of 36 passes for 257 yards, threw a 7-yard touchdown pass on a slant in from the left sideline to wide receiver Barry Johnson.
That fired up the Terps.
"When the score was 21-14, Zolak was telling us on the sidelines they were flat," said Maryland inside linebacker Scott Whittier. "He said they were not hustling to the ball."
"I guess they were thinking let's play this game and go to the Sugar Bowl," said Whittier. "If they played us tomorrow, they might beat us, 50-0. But today, we were the best team."
Maryland tied the score at 21-21 when Mason, filling in for injured starter Troy Jackson (turf toe) after the first half, ran 59 yards around left end for a touchdown with 11:02 left in the third period.
It was the first time Maryland has had the speed and shown the ability to get outside in the last four years.
"I get through the line of scrimmage, and I saw nothing but field," said Mason. "That's when I started thinking party time, excitement, thrill."