BLACKSBURG, Va. - There's the Hokie Stone that Virginia Tech players rub entering Lane Stadium. And the lunch pail the Hokies carry to games. And the fans dancing the "Hokie pokie" in the stands.
The Maryland Terrapins don't seem to like any of it, and why would they? The Terps entered last night's game not having won at Virginia Tech since 1949.
Maryland, which lost its previous outing here four years ago by 49 points, again found little reason to enjoy its visit to the stone stadium last night. The No. 23 Terps gave up 253 rushing yards to redshirt freshman Darren Evans but couldn't run themselves in a 23-13 loss that left them tied for the lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division.
Maryland did not go quietly in a game attended by scouts from a number of bowls, including the Gator, Champs Sports, Capital One, Chick-fil-A and Meineke Car Care.
Several thousand Maryland fans also attended the game, including about 300 of the football program's top boosters who were bused to Blacksburg by the athletic department.
Maryland (6-3, 3-2 ACC) still controls its outcome in the division, but the Terps have narrowed their margin for error. A Nov. 22 meeting with Florida State - with whom the Terps are tied - now looms large.
"We still have an opportunity [to win the ACC], but we're going to have to play better than we did tonight," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who was frustrated his defense surrendered 273 rushing yards.
Trailing 20-3, the Terps scored 10 points in a row in the third quarter. But the comeback ended there.
Maryland was never able to stop Evans, who rushed for 116 yards in the first half and then helped Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) run out the clock to end the game with eight carries over the final 5:38.
"We were prepared, but we were missing assignments and missing tackles, which you can't do," Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak said.
Meanwhile, the Terps struggled on the ground. Da'Rel Scott, the ACC's leading rusher, who had been questionable with a sore shoulder, started but found little room. Maryland totaled minus-12 rushing yards.
Friedgen said Scott wasn't given many holes and wasn't 100 percent because his shoulder had prevented him from practicing.
But Maryland, aided by a key break, managed to make the game interesting. Darrius Heyward-Bey took a short pass and turned up the middle for a 63-yard touchdown to make it 20-10 with 6:43 left in the third quarter.
Maryland then took advantage of a fumble by Virginia Tech, and Obi Egekeze followed with a 27-yard field goal with 2:29 left in the third.
But the Hokies' Dustin Keys followed with his third field goal, a 27-yarder, to extend the lead to 23-13.
It was the Terrapins' third night game of the season - all on the road - and they have lost all three.
Friedgen appeared angry at the end of the half with his defense on the field. Friedgen said the Terps had to call a timeout because the defense didn't appear to have received the signals from coordinator Chris Cosh on a drive on which the Hokies converted a third-and-18 and ended up with field goal.
"[Cosh] said he had the call in, but the kids didn't look like they had it," Friedgen said.
Note: : Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith suffered an Achilles injury that will be evaluated.
NORTH CAROLINA @MARYLAND
Nov. 15, 3:30 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM
PLAY IT AGAIN
What went right
Quarterback Chris Turner, who usually plays well in big games, did so again. The junior completed nine of his first 11 passes and finished with 240 passing yards. But he had no run support to take pressure off the passing game.
What went wrong
Maryland's defense allowed redshirt freshman Darren Evans to run for 253 yards. It was a performance similar to the one at Clemson on Sept. 27 - a game in which the Terps gave up huge chunks of rushing yardage in the first half.
Trailing 17-3, Maryland was eager for points in the second half. But Turner was sacked on the half's first play from scrimmage and fumbled to set up a Virginia Tech field goal.
What it means
Maryland needs to play better on the road. But the Terps can still win the Atlantic Division and have two of their final three games at home.
The Terps (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) host North Carolina (6-2, 2-2) on Nov. 15.