Va. Tech tames Terps

Upset-minded Um Falls Short Vs. Hokies

Virginia Tech 28 Maryland 9


College Park -- They wanted to prove they could hang with one of the top teams in the country, and show on national television that they weren't the same team that was embarrassed on the same stage last year.

For three quarters last night, not only did Maryland hang with No. 3 Virginia Tech at Byrd Stadium, but its defense also gave the Terps ample opportunities to win.

They just couldn't score enough points.

Any hope of an upset fizzled with each missed opportunity, leading to a 28-9 loss before a crowd of 54,838, and anyone watching on ESPN.

Virginia Tech (7-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), despite more turnovers and interceptions in one game than it had all season, escaped with its seventh consecutive victory.

Maryland, which came into last night's game with a three-game winning streak and designs on avenging a 55-6 defeat to the Hokies last November, dropped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC heading into an Oct. 29 game at Florida State.

With four games remaining on the schedule, the Terps are still two wins shy of an appearance in a bowl game - something that eluded them a year ago.

"When we had the ball turned over, especially in good field position, and weren't able to come away with any points, that was really the difference in the game," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Anytime you play a team of that caliber and you have opportunities and you don't cash in on them, you're not going to win the football game."

Maryland's defense, which had worked specifically this week on forcing turnovers, had three interceptions, and Virginia Tech fumbled twice, losing it once.

The Terps' offense, which had emphasized ball security, turned it over twice. And it wasn't necessarily because Maryland was facing the No. 1 team in the nation in total defense. The Hokies came into the contest holding opponents to an average of nine points per game.

In the third quarter, when quarterback Sam Hollenbach threw his second interception of the game to safety Justin Hamilton, Maryland safety Milton Harris gave it right back to him with an interception of his own two plays later.

"We were just out there doing our job anyway," Harris said. "We're supposed to get turnovers ... We're all one team, and we lose as one. We can't look at it as our offense didn't do it."

Faced with a fourth-and-11 on the next drive, though, kicker Dan Ennis' 38-yard field goal attempt came up short. Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson had an interception on the following drive and returned it 21 yards. But Ennis missed another field goal, this one a 47-yard attempt.

"That's six points right there," Friedgen said. "But to me, we should be scoring touchdowns with the field position we had instead of going for field goals."

Maryland was in the red zone three times and scored one touchdown. The Terps were successful on four of 15 third-down conversions, a phase of the game that has plagued them all season.

It was hardly a flawless performance on defense, though, as the Terps allowed 497 yards of total offense. A 10-play, 99-yard drive that began in the third quarter and ended with a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Terps behind 21-3.

"We have to stop teams when it counts," Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson said. "The defense played good, but when we needed it real bad, we just didn't have it."

Wilson cost the Terps 15 yards with a pass interference penalty in the end zone on the 99-yard drive. The call set Virginia Tech up on the Terps' 18-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Mike Imoh scored with 10:45 remaining. Branden Ore's 4-yard TD run sealed the win with just under seven minutes remaining.

Virginia Tech made uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half. The Hokies squandered two of three chances in the red zone, fumbling twice on the 1-yard line. Junior quarterback Marcus Vick threw three interceptions on three consecutive drives in the third quarter. Still, Vick completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 211 yards. He also rushed 16 times for 133 yards and one touchdown.

On the Hokies' second possession in the second half, Imoh fumbled on the 1-yard line on fourth down when Harris got his hand on it. Gerrick McPhearson recovered - the first time Virginia Tech had lost a fumble in seven games - and Maryland scored on Ennis' 38-yard field goal on the ensuing drive.

Instead of redeeming themselves on their next possession, Vick fumbled, this time within inches of the end zone. Virginia Tech recovered, but the Hokies were back on the 4-yard line. Brandon Pace, who leads the ACC in scoring and had only missed one field goal before last night, was unable to connect on a 20-yard attempt.

"I think it's a learning experience for a lot of our guys," Friedgen said. "Hopefully we'll be better for it."

Maryland@No. 11 Florida State Oct. 29, TBA, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.