Virginia 16, Maryland 0
Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen has sat through some maddening defeats during the past two months, but Saturday's 16-0 loss at rival Virginia was perhaps the most painful in a season that has all but slipped away from the Terrapins.
Even when Friedgen's offense failed to gain 100 yards in home losses to Georgia Tech and N.C. State, and then gave away the game in the final seconds a week later at Clemson, the Terrapins' defense at least played with courage and pride. But Saturday, the No. 12 Cavaliers thoroughly dominated Maryland on both sides of the ball, leaving the Terps within one loss of their first losing season in Friedgen's four years as coach at his alma mater.
The victory was tantalizing for the Cavaliers, whose season seems to grow more promising with each passing week. With three regular season games remaining, Virginia (7-1, 4-1) remained in a tie with Virginia Tech for first place in the ACC, and prepares to play No. 11 Miami in Charlottesville next Saturday. The Hurricanes lost their second ACC game last night in a 24-17 overtime defeat to Clemson.
"If you talk about wanting to be one of the best, you've got to beat the best," Cavaliers quarterback Marques Hagans said. "Miami has been the best for a long, long time."
Virginia was certainly at its best against Maryland, totaling 409 yards of offense, including 295 yards rushing against the ACC's top-ranked run defense. The Cavaliers held the Terrapins to 214 yards of offense, forced three turnovers and did not commit a penalty in a game for the first time since 1941, delighting a sellout crowd of 63,072 fans, the largest ever at Scott Stadium.
"We've been trying to work to become this kind of team for three-plus years now," Virginia Coach Al Groh said. "I've said on earlier occasions, maybe we're closer to the model than we've ever been, and maybe we closed in a little bit more on the model tonight."
Maryland (4-5, 2-4) doesn't look anything like the team model that won 31 games during Friedgen's first three seasons. Just a week after stunning then-No. 5 Florida State, 20-17, the Terrapins gained only seven first downs, failed to gain a half-yard on consecutive plays to squander their best scoring opportunity and were shut out for the first time in 35 games -- since losing to Notre Dame, 22-0, in the 2002 opener.
Maryland must win its last two games -- at No. 18 Virginia Tech on Nov. 18 and against Wake Forest on Nov. 27 -- to qualify for a bowl game.
"It was like the walk of the zombies," Friedgen said. "Nobody was home. We were talking to them, trying to motivate them. Nothing was registering."
Virginia tailback Alvin Pearman ran 31 times for 170 yards, and junior Wali Lundy ran 24 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. They're the first teammates to run for 100 yards or more against Maryland since Florida State's Zack Crockett and Warrick Dunn did it in a 52-20 win over the Terps in 1994.
It was "not that tough," Pearman said. "We really got the ball rolling early. We dominated up front. When you dominate a team up front, you can do whatever you want."
Said Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks, "Coach Groh shoved the ball down their throats."
Brooks made three of the biggest plays in the first half, intercepting Maryland's Joel Statham twice, and stuffing him on a failed quarterback sneak when the Terps seemed to be driving for the game's first touchdown. Midway through the first quarter, Maryland faced third down and one at the Virginia 14-yard line, and Statham was stopped short on his sneak. Statham tried to sneak behind center Kyle Schmitt again on fourth down, but Brooks and linebacker Kai Parham dove over the top, denying him any penetration and a first down.
"If you can't make inches, you're going to have trouble winning football games," Friedgen said.
Virginia took over at its 14 and drove 86 yards on 13 plays, with Lundy scoring on a four-yard run, which gave the Cavaliers a 7-0 lead with 12 minutes 2 seconds left in the second quarter. Pearman was the workhorse during the drive, running nine times for 49 yards and gaining another 14 yards on a screen pass that moved the Cavaliers into Maryland territory.
On Virginia's next possession, Lundy replaced Pearman in the backfield and ran the ball five times on the first six plays, moving the Cavs to the Maryland 25. On third and four, Hagans threw a 12-yard pass to fullback Tom Santi for a first down. Two plays later, Lundy ran left and broke back right, picking up a block from Hagans, for a 15-yard score with 5:25 left in the half. Junior Connor Hughes's extra point attempt hit the left upright and was no good, leaving the Cavaliers with a 13-0 lead.
Hughes kicked a 27-yard field goal on Virginia's first possession of the second half to make it 16-0.
Statham, who injured his left collarbone during the first half, went 10 for 17 for 115 yards and was replaced by freshman Jordan Steffy late in the game. The Terrapins gained 214 yards on 50 plays, and converted only 2 of 12 third downs and 1 of 4 fourth downs.
"We just wanted to go out and prove we had the better defense," Brooks said. "With a shutout, we proved it."