By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
At least there is still hope for a 10th straight win over their in-state rivals.
As for the ACC title, those hopes were probably dashed for Virginia Tech in a stunning 27-24 overtime loss to Maryland in front of 64,686 mostly disappointed fans on Saturday at Lane Stadium.
It is definitely not the way Logan Thomas and the rest of the Virginia Tech seniors wanted to remember their final home game. The Hokies (7-4, 4-3) will close out the regular season on Nov. 30 at Virginia.
“I told the younger guys just to remember this day, it is not the way you want to go out in your senior day, and don’t let it happen again,” Thomas said. “This is supposed to be a day you remember the rest of your life.”
Virginia Tech, which had been impressive in last week’s 42-24 win over Miami, had to rally from a 21-7 deficit, took a lead with a field goal by a walk-on kicker in overtime, but then lost when Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was able to dive near the goal line and touch the pylon with the ball to give the Terrapins the win.
Brown was the difference for Maryland on offense, running for 122 yards and two scores, and passing for 135 yards and another touchdown.
“I don’t think we tackled sharply and usually when you don’t tackle well, that means you aren’t full-tilt and ready to play,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “We’re a good tackling football team, but he broke a lot of tackles and he made some good plays. He made some really good throws once they got going and I give him credit.”
Maryland, which had lost three straight and four of five since a 4-0 start to the season, sacked Thomas seven times, three by Andre Monroe and two from Quinton Jefferson. Thomas was 19-of-31 _ after completing his first eight passes in the game _ for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while Trey Edmunds ran for 61 yards and a score.
Virginia Tech struggled mightily on third down, converting just four times in 16 chances.
“Not very good,” Beamer said. “Not very good.”
Freshman walk-on kicker Eric Kristensen made his collegiate debut, drawing cheers from the crowd, making a 31-yard field goal to put the Hokies up 24-21 in overtime, and also converted three extra point attempts. He missed a 34-yard attempt in the first quarter, having taken over for Cody Journell, who was dismissed from the team earlier in the week.
“He did a good job, I think he did a good job of taking advantage of his opportunity that he was given with Cody kicked off,” Virginia Tech receiver Willie Byrn said. “You can’t really ask for a whole lot more from him so he did a good job.”
Maryland (6-4, 2-4) took a 21-7 lead just 2:02 into the third quarter on a 16-yard pass by Brown to Nigel King in the corner of the end zone. It was originally ruled incomplete, but counted after being reviewed by replay officials.
Virginia Tech was able to score twice to tie the score at 21-21 on a 1-yard pass from Thomas to D.J. Coles with 10:03 left in the third _ a score set up by a Demitri Knowles’ 88-yard kick return, and a 5-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone to a diving Byrn with 9:30 on the clock.
Neither team came close to scoring again before regulation, with the Hokies taking over at their own 25 with 18 seconds on the clock, choosing not to use any of its three second half timeouts down the stretch.
Still, the Hokies were confident in the task ahead, having beaten Marshall at home earlier in the season in overtime.
“Most definitely, I never felt down because I know what this team is capable of doing and I know what we can do,” Edmunds said. “At the end I just thought we could pull it out, but Maryland just made more plays than us and they came out victorious.”
Virginia Tech got the ball first in overtime, was able to get a pass interference call on 3rd and 8 from the 23, giving them the ball at the 9. The Hokies followed with runs up the middle by Edmunds and Thomas, but Thomas was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Monroe to force fourth down.
Kristensen put the Hokies up with the 31-yard field goal, but that was a win as far Maryland head coach Randy Edsall was concerned.
“Even when it was 21-21, our guys didn’t flinch,” Edsall said. “They knew they were going to find a way…We overcome a questionable call and hold them to a field goal.”
Maryland went to the ground, like they had most of the game, with Brandon Ross running for 7 and then 15 yards to the 3. After one attempt up the middle netted nothing, Brown took the ball toward the left sideline, drived toward the pylon and scored the winning touchdown.
“The quarterback just made a good play, he did all game,” Virginia Tech senior linebacker Jack Tyler said. “We knew he was a good runner, on pass plays he didn’t even really look to pass the ball, he found a lane and went half the time and made plays.”
Brown was mobbed by his teammates, even as the play was being reviewed and confirmed.
“Obviously that was pretty awful to watch,” Tyler said. “We worked our butts off all week to get this win, we needed it. We just didn’t do enough to get it.”
Virginia Tech took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by Trey Edmunds, a 6-play, 76-yard drive aided by completions of 12 yards to D.J. Coles, 11 to Edmunds and 31 yards to Kalvin Cline by Thomas. Kristensen added the extra point, bringing cheers from the crowd.
Beamer felt like the Hokies had scored on Maryland’s first play from scrimmage when Jarrett Ross appeared to catch a short pass from Brown and get stripped by Tariq Edwards, who carried it to the end zone for an apparent score, but the pass was ruled incomplete.
“It looked to me like he caught it and carried it for two steps,” Beamer said. “When they showed the replay, maybe I saw something that wasn’t there. Did he take two steps? I didn’t think it was a question. They just said it was overturned.”
After Kristensen missed a 34-yard attempt late in the first quarter, the Terrapins put up 21 straight points. Maryland scored twice in the second period, on a 63-yard punt return for a score by William Likely with 7:47 on the clock, and the Hokies went to the locker room amid boos from the crowd after a 1-yard yard plunge by Brown with :07 seconds left.
That lead grew to 14 opening the second half, with Brown following a perfect 43-yard pass down the left sideline to Amba Etta-Tawo, who caught the ball despite tight coverage by freshman defender Kendall Fuller.
“It was a good throw, they set up a little double move,” Fuller said. “I guess they saw we didn’t have help over the top and he just made a good throw and catch.”
Brown would then throw a 16-yard pass to King in the right corner of the end zone that was was ruled incomplete, but overturned upon review.
Virginia Tech got its own long return on the ensuing kick with an 88-yard return by Demetri Knowles. Thomas connected with D.J. Coles from 1-yard to narrow the margin to 21-14, and tied the score at 21-21 with 9:32 to play, after Knowles turned a 3rd and 24 pass into a 38-yard gain and Thomas hit a diving Byrn from 5 yards in the right corner of the end zone.
Virginia Tech, which didn’t use a timeout in the second half, took over at its own 20 with 18 seconds left, and allowed the clock to wind down to overtime.
“They played really hard and our kids did too, but we just fell short,” Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “The moral of the story in any football game is that is comes down to two or three plays and that is what happened today.
“It is a tough day because our kids did play very hard, and it is disappointing.”
It was a rare case for Virginia Tech in which the Hokies lost without turning the ball over. They had 444 yards to 415 for Maryland, but didn’t take advantage of opportunities to score.
No one was more surprised than Beamer, whose Hokies had been impressive last week at Miami, rolling up 549 yards to snap a two-game losing skid and beat the Hurricanes 42-24.
“I thought we would come out a little sharper football team than we did today,” Beamer said. “Not to take anything away from Maryland but I thought if we had been sharper early, things might have been different. Give them credit, once they got going they made some big plays.”
Now the Hokies must wait two weeks before traveling to Virginia to look for their 10th straight win against the struggling Cavaliers.
That will be what Virginia Tech will focus on until then.
“That is how life is, sometimes things don’t go your way and it goes with how you react,” Byrn said. “We are going to react, we are going to come out and we are going to finish this season strong.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland.......................0 14 7 0 6 — 27
Virginia Tech.................7 0 7 7 3 — 24
VT—Edmunds 3 run (Kristensen kick), 8:47.
Md—Likely 63 punt return (Craddock kick), 7:47.
Md—C.Brown 1 run (Craddock kick), :17.
Md—King 16 pass from C.Brown (Craddock kick), 12:58.
VT—Coles 1 pass from Thomas (Kristensen kick), 10:03.
VT—Byrn 5 pass from Thomas (Kristensen kick), 9:32.
VT—FG Kristensen 31.
Md—C.Brown 3 run.
First downs 15 15
Rushes-yards 39-184 38-54
Passing 135 210
Comp-Att-Int 12-26-1 19-31-0
Return Yards 106 14
Punts-Avg. 10-41.5 10-44.4
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-39 4-35
Time of Possession 26:00 34:00
RUSHING—Maryland, C.Brown 23-122, B.Ross 11-73, Veii 1-(minus 1), Reid 3-(minus 3), Team 1-(minus 7). Virginia Tech, Edmunds 16-61, Coleman 5-13, Knowles 1-3, Team 3-(minus 6), Thomas 13-(minus 17).
PASSING—Maryland, C.Brown 12-25-1-135, Team 0-1-0-0. Virginia Tech, Thomas 19-31-0-210.
RECEIVING—Maryland, King 6-60, Etta 4-69, Culmer 1-7, B.Ross 1-(minus 1). Virginia Tech, Byrn 6-69, Knowles 2-43, Cline 2-34, Stanford 2-29, Edmunds 2-20, Coles 2-13, Rogers 2-7, Mangus 1-(minus 5).