In 'a beautiful win,' Terps take down Virginia Tech, 27-24, to get bowl-eligible

Maryland holds Hokies to field goal in overtime period before Brown's game-winning rushing touchdown

November 16, 2013|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Not since Maryland beat West Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium to start the season 4-0 had senior quarterback C.J. Brown felt as good as he did last week.

The concussion Brown sustained at Florida State in early October was the first major setback. It was followed by a string of blows Brown took elsewhere that seemed to slow him down both physically and mentally.

But at Lane Stadium, against heavily favored Virginia Tech, Brown finally delivered his own knockout punch Saturday.

In his best performance since early in the season, Brown capped off an afternoon in which he rushed for 123 yards with a 3-yard touchdown in overtime to lead Maryland to a 27-24 victory before a stunned crowd of 64,686.

The victory made Maryland (6-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) bowl-eligible for the first time since Randy Edsall took over after the 2010 season.

“It’s huge to get that monkey off our back,” Brown said after the Terps’ first overtime win since 2009. “With all the adverse times we’ve gone through as a team, even this year, coming off the [three-game] losing streak and coming down here to Lane Stadium against a good Virginia Tech team. To get that win, on the road, says a lot about this team.”

The victory was not only the first for the Terps in Blacksburg since 1949 and the first overall against the Hokies since 1990, it was also clearly the most significant of Edsall’s tumultuous three years in College Park.

“They had a resolve this week that they wanted to change things around, that things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go, and all the credit goes to the players for getting it fixed and coming down here and playing their hearts out,” Edsall said. “Just a beautiful win for us."

After a defense that sacked Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3) quarterback Logan Thomas seven times held the Hokies to a field goal on the first possession of overtime, runs of 7 and 15 yards by sophomore tailback Brandon Ross set up Brown’s game-winning touchdown.

Initially looking for Dave Stinebaugh (Perry Hall), Brown saw his senior tight end covered, so he took off, as he did for much of the game. Running out of room, Brown stretched out to reach the pylon with the football. A wild celebration was briefly halted as the play was reviewed, then resumed after it was quickly confirmed as a touchdown.

Edsall, who raised his arms in triumph when Brown scored, said later that he thought: “There’s no way they can overturn it. There’s no way.”

Edsall said Brown’s second touchdown run and third overall of the game “really epitomized the effort that our team gave all day. We had a determination, we had a passion, we had a resolve that nothing was going to stop us. We were going to find a way.

“The same thing with the play of C.J. today and what he did. [It] helped our team and motivated our offensive team, to see him do the things we know he can do when he is healthy. … When your leader is out there doing those type of things, it gets you fired up and gets you to play maybe a little bit harder.”

Brown, who had played poorly since coming back from his concussion, said he could feel a difference in his legs in practice last week.

“I feel like just the explosiveness to get away from guys or just to make moves where I felt comfortable to shake a guy —where if I did make a mistake, I could use my athletic ability to get out of it — and I felt like was able to do that today,” said Brown, who overcame an interception to complete 12 of 25 passes for 125 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Nigel King and a 43-yard pass to redshirt freshman wideout Amba Etta-Tawo.

Asked whether his revived health made a difference in the way he approached Saturday’s game, Brown said: “That’s the biggest thing. Mentally, I was there and I could physically do it. When you think you can make those plays with your legs and it’s not happening, you sit back and look in the mirror [and say], ‘I can’t do that. I have to do something else.’ I felt really good out there.”

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose defense came in ranked first in the ACC and third in the country overall, said: “I don’t think we tackled sharply, and usually when you don’t tackle well, it means you aren’t full tilt and ready to play. We’re a good tackling football team, but [Brown] broke a lot of tackles, and he made some good plays. He made some really good throws once they got going and I give him credit.”

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