Virginia Tech Pulls Maryland Back to the ACC Pack

Virginia Tech's Darren Evans shakes off Maryland defensive back Jeff Allen. Evans had 253 rushing yards, the most ever by a Hokies running back.
Virginia Tech's Darren Evans shakes off Maryland defensive back Jeff Allen. Evans had 253 rushing yards, the most ever by a Hokies running back. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 6 -- Maryland's players entered Lane Stadium on Thursday with a two-game winning streak, in sole possession of first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division and with an opportunity to perform on a national stage.

By the time they exited, after neither running the ball nor stopping the run, the Terrapins became just another contending team in a conference as muddled as it ever has been.

With attention squarely on the health of Virginia Tech's quarterbacks, an unlikely catalyst, redshirt freshman Darren Evans, rushed for a school-record 253 yards and lifted the Hokies to a 23-13 victory over No. 23 Maryland before a jubilant crowd of 66,233. The outcome further shuffled the standings in the nation's most balanced conference, which now has eight teams with two conference losses.

"The future is still bright," said Maryland quarterback Chris Turner, who threw for 240 yards. "We still control our own destiny."

The Terrapins (6-3, 3-2) dropped into a three-way tie for first with Wake Forest and Florida State. They can win the division by winning their remaining three games. In the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) moved within a half-game of first-place Georgia Tech, a team the Hokies already have beaten.

The loss left Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen frustrated on a number of levels. After a week of preaching about the importance of stopping the rush, Friedgen watched Evans run at will and compensate for any occasional deficiencies in the Hokies' passing game.

"They ran the ball right down our throats," Friedgen said.

Maryland's running game, meantime, was nonexistent. The Terrapins finished with minus-12 rushing yards on 18 carries. Running back Da'Rel Scott, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, started but was ineffective because of the injury and the lack of holes, Friedgen said. Freshman Davin Meggett carried the ball four times for just 13 yards.

"To not have them have a good running day," wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said, "it makes it tough for everyone. It makes it tough for the defense, too."

Maryland's defense left Virginia Tech's receivers wide open. Players missed tackles. And defensive confusion forced Maryland to burn a timeout on a critical third-and-18 play late in the first half. Friedgen said after the game that he was frustrated because the defense did not have the play call in on time, and "I am going to find out why we didn't have the call in."

Television coverage showed a displeased Friedgen talking emphatically to defensive coordinator Chris Cosh during the timeout. When asked about his conversation with Cosh, Friedgen said, "He said he had the call in, but the kids didn't look like they had it."

On the next play, Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone was left wide open to make a 26-yard reception and set up a 35-yard field goal that gave the Hokies a 17-3 halftime lead.

"We were prepared," Terrapins linebacker Alex Wujciak said. "We were just missing assignments and missing tackles."

The Hokies took a 20-3 lead before Maryland rallied because of a series of opportunistic plays. Heyward-Bey hauled in a 63-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass. Maryland's Torrey Smith blocked a punt. And finally, a Maryland punt bounced off the left hand of Kam Chancellor and was recovered by Maryland's Tony Logan deep in Virginia Tech territory. Obi Egekeze added a field goal to close the gap to 20-13.

"We got breaks," Heyward-Bey said. "We just need to play better."

After a week's worth of attention dedicated to the health of Virginia Tech's quarterbacks, Sean Glennon, who had been nursing a high-ankle sprain, started and Boone also saw action under center. After its first series, Virginia Tech had little trouble confounding Maryland's defense.

On the Hokies' second possession, Glennon engineered an efficient 11-play drive that covered 71 yards. Evans had two runs for at least 15 yards on the drive. And on third and goal from the 5, Glennon lobbed the ball to the back of the end zone, where Boone, after faking out Wujciak, made the catch for the game's first score.

Maryland moved the ball early in the game. Turner completed 6 of 7 passes in the first quarter. Smith, who entered the game with only eight receptions, had three catches for 45 yards in the first quarter. But the Terrapins had no points to show for it.

Midway through the second quarter, Evans burst through the middle and then up the left side of the field, outracing everyone except cornerback Nolan Carroll for a 50-yard gain that set up Virginia Tech's second touchdown, a one-yard run by Evans.

"We said we needed to run the football better," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "When Evans got in there he got hot. There were some holes, and he ran strong, really strong at the end."

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