November 16, 2013

Va Tech Wrap up: Terps shock Hokies

There you have it. After a painful month that included a plethora of injuries and three straight ugly losses, the Terrapins finally broke through on Saturday against Virginia Tech, beating the Hokies in Blacksburg 27-24 in overtime to secure bowl eligibility for the first time under head coach Randy Edsall. Feel free to exhale.

To say Saturday's outcome is a shock would be underselling it. A week ago, the Hokies traveled to Miami and beat up on a floundering Hurricanes squad, putting them in the driver's seat for a trip to the ACC title game against unbeaten Florida State. On Senior Day at Lane Stadium, the Hokies had everything to play for and the game was handicapped accordingly, with Virginia Tech favored by more than two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Maryland looked anemic last week in an embarrassing 20-3 home loss to Syracuse. But the Terrapins that showed up today didn't look much like that bunch. Instead, the Terps were effective on all sides of the ball Saturday in Blacksburg, led by C.J. Brown on offense, Will Likely on special teams and Andre Monroe on defense.

After falling down by a touchdown halfway through the first quarter, the Maryland defense put the clamps on Logan Thomas and the Hokies offense. On the other side of the ball, Brown returned to form just in time to punch in a touchdown on the ground before halftime, giving the Terps their first lead of the game.

The Terps came out of the locker room just as hot as they went in, scoring on their first drive of the second half on a Brown touchdown pass to Nigel King to put the Terps up 21-7 in front of a stunned Blacksburg crowd. The Hokies fought back to send the game into overtime, but Brandon Ross and Brown needed only four carries to get into the end zone after the Hokies had to settle for a field goal in the first and only overtime. What is left of the injured-riddled Terrapins roster poured off the sidelines to meet Brown in celebration after his game-sealing three-yard touchdown plunge.

Brown a dual threat

Brown was truly a different quarterback today than the guy who turned the ball over three times last week. The Hokies defense, primarily in man coverage, was suffocating in the first half, but Brown used his legs to eat up yardage and finished the day with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, including the winning score.

On the opening drive of the second half; Brown made a pair of beautiful throws, the first down the left sideline to Amba Etta-Tawo and the second the touchdown to King in the back corner of the end zone. Otherwise, the Terps aerial assault never really got going but it was promising to see Brown throw the ball like that again. The senior went 12-for-25 for 135 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Likely breaks out>/B>

What a day for the freshman cornerback Likely, who returned four punts for 106 yards, 100 of which came on two first half returns. The Maryland offense was slumbering in the first half until Likely's 63-yard return for a touchdown provided a game-tying spark. Even more impressive is that the freshman did it against Virginia Tech, normally the best special teams unit in the country.

Here is what Edsall had to say about Likely earlier this week:

"Will is a guy, from the very first day he came in here, you could tell he has something special about him, just in terms of how he went about his business. He is a smart football player who worked extremely hard to get better, is never satisfied, a tough guy. I could talk all day about him because he epitomizes everything you want as a football player."

Terps' D steps up

The offense has been so bad in recent weeks that it overshadowed the unification of Maryland's defensive unit. They were good against Syracuse. They were great against Virginia Tech, particularly along the defensive line. The Hokies simply could not block Andre Monroe who had three of the Terps seven sacks.

Thomas was under constant pressure all day. Anytime the nimble quarterback squirted past the Maryland pass rush, there were a handful of Terps nearby to take him down. The senior finished with -17 yards on the ground. He was effective through the air on certain drives, throwing for two touchdowns, but was held down for long stretches by a swarming Terrapins defense.

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