- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2005

Maryland missed its share of opportunities and a shot at a stunning upset in the process.

The Terrapins turned four Virginia Tech turnovers into only three points and quarterback Marcus Vick turned in a performance reminiscent of his famous older brother as the third-ranked Hokies toppled the Terrapins 28-9 last night at Byrd Stadium.

It wasn’t a humiliating loss for the Terps (4-3, 2-2 ACC), who were frequently reminded of last year’s 55-6 humbling in Blacksburg. This loss didn’t engender as much frustration for a team that entered with a three-game winning streak and hoped to announce its re-emergence with its first defeat of a top-three team since 1983, but it did reinforce the Terps aren’t too far way from competing with the nation’s elite.

“I think the story of the game was we had opportunities and we couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I thought when we had the ball turned over, especially in good field position, and weren’t able to come away with any points, that was really the difference in the game.”

Maryland actually won the turnover battle and prevented the Hokies from scoring on defense or special teams. Yet Vick, who ran for a career-best 133 yards and a touchdown, kept Maryland guessing throughout the night.

The Terps wore their black jerseys for the second consecutive home game, much to the delight of a student section almost unanimously decked out in black itself. The jerseys, first worn when the Terps scored 45 points in an upset of Virginia, failed to produce the same offensive mojo against Virginia Tech.

The physical Hokies defense never allowed Maryland to establish the run. Lance Ball had 75 yards on 15 carries, though more than half came on the Terps’ late touchdown drive.

Quarterback Sam Hollenbach moved the Terps a few times but was erratic in his first start against a top-10 team. Hollenbach completed 14 of 30 passes for 158 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown, a 10-yard strike to Derrick Fenner with 2:16 left.

Vick turned in his finest footwork on the first drive of the second half, when his 38-yard dash put the Hokies in Maryland territory. Five plays later, tailback Mike Imoh scored from 2 yards out to put Tech up 14-3. The lead didn’t grow until the fourth quarter, though, because Vick was intercepted on the Hokies’ next three possessions.

Maryland, though, couldn’t capitalize on the blunders. Kicker Dan Ennis, so reliable earlier in the season, was short on a 38-yard attempt, then missed right on a 47-yarder on the Terps’ next possession.

“Our offense has to put the ball in the end zone when you get the opportunity,” Friedgen said. “We missed two field goals, and that’s six points right there, but to me we should be scoring touchdowns.”

Maryland quickly punted after Vick’s third interception and pinned the Hokies at their 1. After barely avoiding a safety, the Hokies methodically picked off yardage — keyed by a Vick 23-yard run on third down — before Imoh rolled into the end zone from 10 yards out.

Freshman Branden Ore’s touchdown run with 6:47 left boosted the lead to 28-3.

It was obvious early the Terps wouldn’t endure a repeat of last season’s shellacking in Blacksburg. Cornerback Josh Wilson sacked Vick to force the Hokies to punt on their first drive, and Maryland followed with a march to the Virginia Tech 20 before James Anderson intercepted Hollenbach. Yet the mistake didn’t cost the Terps, who prevented the Hokies from crossing midfield.

Vick eventually energized the Virginia Tech offense, relying on his scrambling to evade the Maryland defense. Vick’s 21-yard scamper pushed the Hokies inside the 15, and three plays later he outran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to the end zone.

Maryland’s quarterback was also busy running, and it almost proved costly. Hollenbach suffered a sprained AC joint in his left (nonthrowing) shoulder on an option keeper late in the first quarter. He remained in the game and started the next drive even though backup Joel Statham warmed up during the Hokies’ first touchdown drive.

“I don’t know how much that affected his throwing,” Friedgen said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he’d been. He got a little rattled from the rush and the first interception. He’s got to learn from this.”

The junior engineered a 14-play drive in the second quarter abetted by Hokies linebacker Vince Hall’s personal foul penalty. Maryland’s push stalled before it could enter the red zone, and Ennis overcame a high snap to convert a 38-yard field goal with three minutes left. Virginia Tech had enough time to drive inside the Maryland 5, but kicker Brandon Pace’s 20-yard attempt clanked off the left upright as time expired in the first half.

“At halftime, we thought it was our game to lose,” Wilson said. “We were excited. We thought we were about to knock off the No. 3 team in the nation. Sometimes the ball doesn’t fall in your corner.”

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