- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 15, 2009

Virginia Tech arrived at Byrd Stadium in all-white uniforms. Maryland countered with black jerseys and pants and played under a dreary gray sky.

By the time it was over, the Terrapins were left feeling blue - again.

The No. 20 Hokies put on a name-your-score performance, routing Maryland 36-9 in a game locked up far before it actually concluded.

In short, it was an apt chapter for the Terps’ lost season. It wasn’t quite like the others. There were no turnovers, no penalty problems. Just a feeble performance against a superior opponent, a whimper with a backup quarterback and a defense unable to contain the pass.

“I didn’t think they had a lot of energy the first half,” coach Ralph Friedgen said of his team. “It seemed like they had it in pregame warmup. I told them I was disappointed with them, but I thought they came out the second half and played with a lot of energy. We’re playing for pride.”

And, perhaps, for a look ahead to next year. Maryland had no choice in the matter at quarterback, where Jamarr Robinson made his first career start as Chris Turner sat out with a sprained left knee ligament suffered a week earlier.

Robinson fared about as well as could be expected for the Terps (2-8, 1-5 ACC), who have lost five straight for the first time since 1998. He had little time in the pocket, throwing for 104 yards, and he did not lead Maryland on a touchdown drive.

But Robinson did energize the Terps’ rushing attack, running for 129 yards - the most by a Maryland player all season.

“I did all right,” said Robinson, who became the first Maryland quarterback to run for 100 yards since Shaun Hill did it against Duke in 2001. “I didn’t do anything spectacular. We didn’t win, so I didn’t do enough.”

Robinson wore a walking boot on his right foot after the game in what he said was a precaution for a “tweak.” It could have occurred at any stage of an afternoon during which the Hokies (7-3, 4-2) chased him throughout.

It was a contrast with Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor, who floated around the pocket and became the latest quarterback to eviscerate the Terps’ pass defense.

Taylor set up the Hokies’ first three scores with long passes into the red zone and also connected with Jarrett Boykin on a 64-yard touchdown strike. A little more than 20 minutes in it was 27-3, and a crowd already slightly tilted toward the Hokies made itself even more comfortable.

There was still more than a half to play, but it was merely delayed an inevitable celebration at the expense of the overmatched Terps.

“That was the backbreaker,” Friedgen said. “I thought we held up pretty good against the run, and that’s what they want to do. That’s what I was worried about. They got three long passes on us, and I think that was a big part of their success offensively.”

There was no offensive success for Maryland besides Robinson’s rushing. Maryland’s only touchdown came when Jared Harrell recovered a fumble in the end zone forced by Jamari McCollough.

And yet things managed to get worse. Safety Kenny Tate was lost for the season with a high ankle sprain, while punter Travis Baltz broke a finger and is also likely to miss the final two games.

“I just wonder what spell we are under,” Friedgen said. “It doesn’t seem like anything can go right.”

Not even the weather broke for the Terps. Maryland played before its largest home crowd of the season, but the cloudy conditions hinted at the program’s murky future.

After six bowl berths in eight years, Maryland is facing the potential of enduring the first 10-loss season in school history if it drops games to Florida State and Boston College to close out the season.

“As soon as we walked out today we saw it drizzling,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “It was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ We could have sworn it wasn’t supposed to be anything out here today. Luck goes into it, but at the end of the day we have to make plays. Other guys on the other team are doing it; we just have to make plays when they present themselves.”

Maryland hasn’t all year, just another part of the blues that show no signs of abating this month.


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