BLACKSBURG, Va. | Maryland toiled for nearly two weeks preparing for one of three quarterbacks from Virginia Tech.
It turned out it was a tailback the Terrapins should have worried about the most.
Redshirt freshman Darren Evans ran for a school-record 253 yards as the Hokies reassumed their role as Thursday night bullies with a 23-13 defeat of the No. 23 Terrapins at raucous Lane Stadium.
But for all those foibles, it was the flattening of the Maryland defense that dictated the outcome - and flew in the face of the message Friedgen delivered coming out of his team’s second bye week.
“We made that a real point this week,” Friedgen said. “I figured that’s what they were going to do. I talked to our players the whole two weeks about stopping the run and what we had to do to stop the run. Last thing I talked to them today was about stopping the run, and we didn’t do it. That’s a credit to Virginia Tech. They just ran the ball right down our throats.”
Evans needed 32 carries to ransack the Terps and create a season’s worth of memories on one night. The Hokies (6-3, 3-2) improved to 15-3 on Thursday nights since ESPN began its midweek broadcasts last decade and did so in dominant fashion.
It was a breakout night for Evans, who owned only two runs of at least 20 yards entering the night and none of more than 24 yards. He scampered 50 and 45 yards to reverse shaky field position on two occasions and almost single-handedly killed the clock to snuff out a potential Maryland rally in the fourth quarter.
“He was a very physical running back,” linebacker Alex Wujciak said. “I didn’t think he was going to be that strong. He has some very powerful legs. Running behind that line helped him a little bit, too.”
It was far from a debilitating blow to Maryland, which remains in control of its Atlantic Division fate. But it was far from the performance the Terps, who have lost five straight Thursday night affairs, desired on a national platform.
It was no help for the Terps that their offensive line, which bounced back from a midseason slump to play well in back-to-back games, was throttled throughout the night. That Da’Rel Scott returned from his left shoulder injury didn’t matter; Maryland’s rushing game was doomed to anemic returns.
Scott managed only 11 yards on 10 carries after a week of noncontact work in practice. It couldn’t have helped, but there were other issues at play as well.
“I didn’t think he had a whole lot to run with, either,” Friedgen said.
Oddly enough, the Bizarro Terps summoned their better selves after trailing 20-3 early in the second half. Chris Turner (19-for-31, 240 yards) connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 63-yard touchdown pass, and Maryland managed a field goal after recovering a punt that deflected off Virginia Tech’s Kam Chancellor late in the third quarter.
But it was still on the Terps’ defense to hold back the Hokies - a task it couldn’t handle throughout the night. Evans bounced off would-be tacklers throughout the first half, rolling up his first 100-yard outing before the break.