Everyone was yelling on the sidelines, each Maryland football player with his own brand of motivation. Among them stood defensive lineman Andre Monroe, nicknamed “Chunky Butt,” barking up a storm.
“This is a dogfight,” he said. “It’s a slugfest. All haymakers. We got to hit them in the mouth. They’re going to hit us.”
The boxing opponent in this metaphor was a Virginia Tech offense, one that bulled to 42 points on the road at Miami the previous weekend, which the Terrapins suddenly rendered inept at Lane Stadium. During a 27-24 victory on Saturday afternoon that gave Maryland a sixth win and with it bowl eligibility, its defense sacked quarterback Logan Thomas seven times, forced 10 punts and six three-and-outs. And with the game at stake on overtime’s first possession, a questionable flag thrown against them, the Terps stood strong.
“Our guys didn’t flinch,” Coach Randy Edsall said later. “They knew they were going to find a way.”
Virginia Tech’s drive began, like all overtime drives do, on the 25-yard line. Running back Trey Edmunds rushed over the left guard for two yards, then Thomas misfired an attempt to wide receiver D.J. Coles. That brought up third down, when redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford curled over the middle of the field. As Thomas threw, cornerback Alvin Hill jumped the route and dove for the football. Seconds passed. Then the field judge reached into his pocket and threw the flag.
“We were like okay, we had to regroup, come back, we knew they weren’t going to get the ball all the way down there,” said linebacker Matt Robinson, whose secondary experience was key in defending screen passes and finished with two tackles for a loss on such plays. “Just keep them out of the end zone, make them kick a field goal, maybe block it.”
The pass interference penalty gave Virginia Tech first and goal from the 9-yard line. Another Edmunds rush and a Thomas quarterback draw gained three total yards. Then on third down, Monroe burst up the middle and sacked Thomas, his career-high third of the afternoon, and the Hokies were forced to kick a field goal
“He was big,” cornerback Will Likely said of Monroe. “The crazy thing about it, he just did his job. He didn’t try to be Superman. He was just being himself. He did his job. When you do your job, things come to you.”
Said Robinson: “Dre played his [butt] off. He had a whole lot of sacks and he was getting a lot of tackles for a loss, really tip my hat to him.”
Even though the defense didn’t force a turnover, it still kept Virginia Tech to 264 total yards, including just 54 on the ground, and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson chipped in two sacks. Thomas rushed for a net minus-17 yards, while the Hokies gained just 1.4 yards per carry. Aside from a long first-quarter touchdown drive aided by a face mask penalty and the tying score following a 38-yard third-down conversion, coordinator Brian Stewart’s unit was spotless. Despite still missing starting cornerbacks Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle, Thomas’ 210 passing yards was his lowest since Sept. 21.
“I think we really just got back to doing what we do,” Robinson said. “The first couple games we were causing turnovers, getting tackled for losses, getting sacks. Today, I think we came out, we knew what we had to do. We hadn’t been stopping the run, and that’s something we really did today, and we hadn’t been good on third down, and we were able to get off the field. We just stepped up to the plate.”
And knocked Virginia Tech out.