As Marcus Vick made his way from his postgame news conference to the locker room, a television crew flanked the Virginia Tech quarterback, filming his every move. Fans snapped pictures of him. And someone made him laugh by yelling, "I went fishing with your uncle."
Vick was the star of Virginia Tech's 28-9 victory against Maryland, running for a career-high 133 yards and one touchdown. But as much as he is credited for helping the third-ranked Hokies pull away at Byrd Stadium, he also kept the game closer than perhaps it should have been.
He threw three interceptions in the third quarter, which was one more than he had thrown in six previous games this season combined. A reporter asked Vick afterward whether the performance was one of the best games of his career.
Instead, he called it one of his worst, saying the interceptions "made my life terrible." He said he forced passes on the first two interceptions and watched the third one sail too high. Hokies wide receiver David Clowney said the interceptions were largely due to miscommunication between receiver and quarterback; he said Vick threw the second interception behind him on a corner route.
In all, Vick threw an interception on three of Virginia Tech's five possessions in the third quarter, but the Hokies still led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter. The only thing Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said to his first-year starter during that erratic third quarter was, "You're going to win this thing for us."
Vick never lost confidence. In fact, when the Hokies took over at their own 1-yard line toward the end of the third quarter, Vick had a message for his teammates in the huddle. "We are going to get it done."
Early in the fourth quarter, the Hokies faced a third-and-three play from their 8. Vick told teammates, "This is the first down that is going to win the game." It turned out to be a critical play -- Vick ran for 11 yards -- on a drive that would put Virginia Tech comfortably ahead.
The Hokies covered 99 yards in 10 plays, keyed by a 23-yard run by Vick on another third-down play, and running back Mike Imoh scored on a 10-yard run that gave Virginia Tech a 21-3 lead.
"I just wanted to pick up chunks of yardage," Vick said. "If the backs can't get it done, why not me?"
Beamer said the Hokies had a "couple more" plays in the game plan specifically designed for Vick to run. Vick said it was evident from watching tape that "their defensive linemen were not that athletic, so we wanted to take advantage."
Vick had only one game this season -- a 74-yard performance against West Virginia -- in which he rushed for more than 50 yards. But he did his best impersonation of his brother, the mobile NFL star Michael Vick, with last night's effort. On each of Virginia Tech's first three scoring drives, Vick had a run of at least 20 yards, including a 38-yard scamper at the beginning of the third quarter.
"He got us out of some holes," Beamer said. "He made some critical runs. What we've got is a dynamic quarterback who has the ability to throw and to run."