COLLEGE PARK — Maryland football coach Randy Edsall always talks about the process, how building a program is more than just wins and losses. At times, Edsall's mantra has been overshadowed by long losing streaks for his team and bouts of frustration among the fan base.
Staying true to what he believes, Edsall said that winning a game such as his Terps did Saturday at Virginia Tech is really no different for him than others he has enjoyed during what has been a tumultuous and, at times, torturous, three seasons.
"I'm just happy for the players, because they're the ones just playing the game," Edsall said Sunday, a day after the injury-depleted Terps beat Virginia Tech, 27-24, in overtime at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. "It is about them, it is about seeing the smiles on their faces.
"What we've got to do is remember this and maintain and build on it, regardless of whos's out there playing and what obstacles that are in front of you. There's always a way to overcome them, and that's what we did [Saturday]."
Now bowl-eligible for the first time since Edsall replaced Ralph Friedgen in 2011, Maryland (6-4, 2-4) will finish its 2013 season with a home game Saturday against Boston College and a road finale at North Carolina State on Nov. 30.
But even if Edsall won't take credit for the victory, he knows that Maryland's first win over the Hokies since 1990 helps move the process forward. Though he won't admit it, beating Virginia Tech is the biggest victory the Terps have had under his watch.
"I think it just reinforces the fact that, from the standpoint of, 'Hey guys, we can go out and beat anybody we have on our schedule if we prepare the right way and we go out and play as a team and play as hard as we can and take advantage of the opportunities,' " he said Sunday.
Given the way his team had either collapsed or came out flat in other games this season — most recently in a 20-3 loss at home to Syracuse a week before the Virginia Tech game — Edsall was impressed with the way Maryland hung tough against the Hokies.
"To be outnumbered the way we were [with a crowd of 64,868], they kind of put all that stuff out of their mind, they stayed within their own little world, and they just played as hard as they could, and they never really got flustered and never lost their composure, so to speak. And when you do that, you give yourself an opportunity to beat a quality program like Virginia Tech," Edsall said.
It helped that quarterback C.J. Brown played what many believe was his best game in leading the Terps to his first ACC victory as a starter, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard dive to the pylon in overtime as part of a 122-yard rushing performance. Brown also threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to converted slot receiver Nigel King.
"Him having that kind of success, that's part of being the quarterback and being the leader," Edsall said of Brown on Saturday. "And when your leader is doing those kinds of things, it gets you fired up, it gets you playing a little bit hard, to do a little bit more. It's good that he's healthy and he's capable of doing those things. I think because of how he played, other guys play a little bit harder. And thank God, this is the healthiest he's been in five or six weeks."
It helped that sophomore defensive tackle Andre Monroe had his best game as a member of the Terps, finishing with nine tackles and three sacks, including one on third down in overtime that forced Virginia Tech to kick a field goal. It also helped that freshman punt returner Will Likely scored on a 63-yard return for his first college touchdown to give the struggling offense a lift.
"We had so many guys step up," Edsall said after the game Saturday. "It just showed me what these kids are about. Now they know if they put their mind to it and they stick together as a team, and they have each other's back, these are the things that happen."
Monroe said that going through so much adversity helped the Terps in overtime when little-used sophomore cornerback Alvin Hill was called for pass interference to give the Hokies a first down at the Maryland 9-yard line.
"You've got to have short memories, bad things happen to you, you've got to keep fighting," Monroe said. "That's been our motto through the whole season, throughout the everything we've through. It's how you respond. I kept saying throughout the game, 'this is a dogfight, this is a slugfest, all haymakers.' They're going to hit you, you've got to hit 'em back."