Maryland football defeats Virginia, stays alive in ACC race
Saturday, November 13, 2010; 11:36 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE - The party erupted in the visitors' locker room. Maryland's offensive coordinator leapt into a pile of players. An assistant sprayed a water bottle as if it were champagne. And the head coach bounced, jiggled and rolled his hips, an attempt at dancing.
After authoring forgettable and unsightly performances at Scott Stadium for the better part of 18 years, the Terrapins unleashed a dominant effort Saturday, pulling away from Virginia in a 42-23 rout that will be long savored because of the ramifications.
Maryland (7-3, 4-2 ACC) guaranteed itself a winning regular season and at least a .500 record in the ACC. With that came what is believed to be a significant step toward ensuring Coach Ralph Friedgen's return in 2011, though first-year athletic director Kevin Anderson remained noncommittal about Friedgen's return after the game.
The Terrapins also moved within two wins of clinching the ACC Atlantic Division title. Though they have yet to beat a conference team with a winning record, the fact that they control their own destiny is an improbable development considering they won two games last season and were predicted to finish last in the division this season.
And before a crowd of 45,634 on Virginia's senior day, the Terrapins eliminated their bitter rival from bowl contention with just their second win in their last 10 games in Charlottesville. Virginia (4-6, 1-5) finishes the season with road games at Boston College and Virginia Tech.
"I wanted this one real bad," Friedgen said.
All week, Friedgen had been as tight as he had been all season, jumping on players for the smallest practice miscues. He was superstitious enough to change hotels this season and stay 70 miles from Virginia's campus. The stress turned to joy after his team snapped a three-game losing streak against Virginia and showed no lingering effects from last weekend's last-minute loss at Miami.
Maryland can thank Virginia for committing 16 penalties - one shy of the program record - for 145 yards. And the Terrapins also can thank their own redshirt freshmen. Quarterback Danny O'Brien threw for 289 yards, had two touchdown passes and ran for another. Friedgen said O'Brien, 20, has turned into a "coach on the field."
D.J. Adams, a redshirt freshman running back, scored three touchdowns of six, one and two yards. Although pass protection continues to be an issue for Adams, when he is handed the ball in the red zone "he will fight his butt off to get in the end zone," Friedgen said.
Offensively, Maryland exploited Virginia's one-on-one coverage with big plays, including two for more than 50 yards. Wide receiver Torrey Smith finished with 157 receiving yards on seven receptions. And a new wrinkle was introduced: 320-pound Zach Kerr, a defensive lineman, lined up at fullback a handful of times.
Defensively, safety Eric Franklin and linebacker Adrian Moten each intercepted a pass in the second half after the unit settled down. Moten said he simply wrestled the ball from Virginia wide receiver Kris Burd because "I wanted it a little more."
"This was a big win in the rivalry," Moten added. "They hate us. We hate them."