BLACKSBURG, Va. –Maryland’s entire offense on Thursday night at Lane Stadium rushed for a total of minus-12 yards. Virginia Tech’s Darren Evans did a little better – 265 yards better than the Terps ... all by himself.
The redshirt freshman tailback ran wild over the Terrapins in a 23-13 Tech victory, tallying a school-record 253 yards on 32 carries to lift the Hokies over Maryland in ACC football action and improve their record to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play. No. 23 Maryland dropped to 6-3, 3-2.
With the win, the Hokies snapped a two-game skid and became bowl eligible for the 16th consecutive season. Tech is now 15-3 in Thursday night games televised by ESPN (9-2 at home) and is 4-1 against ranked opponents in such games. The victory was the second for the Hokies in such games over a ranked team when unranked themselves – they also beat No. 10 Clemson at home in 2006.
Evans, whose previous high this year was 94 yards, broke Mike Imoh’s mark of 243 yards – also on 32 carries – set against North Carolina in 2004. He also caught two passes for 20 yards and added a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“You think about [having this type of game] all the time,” Evans said after his performance. “You always visualize busting out and having big games. Sometimes, it doesn’t work the way you want it to work, but tonight, it worked out beautifully. The offensive line was pushing the defensive linemen back and making good blocks. They made it easy for me to go and do what I do.”
“We said we needed to run the football better,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “And when Darren got in there, he got hot. There were some holes there and when he got in there, he ran strong … really strong at the end.”
Evans’ effort was a huge part of what turned out to be Tech’s highest offensive output of the season – 400 total yards. Redshirt senior Sean Glennon made the start at quarterback for the Hokies after a week of speculation following ankle injuries to himself and Tyrod Taylor and he played well, completing 14 of 20 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown to tight end Greg Boone in the first quarter.
“They wrapped me tightly and made this brace for me to stabilize it,” Glennon said of his ankle injury. “With that, I was probably 75-80 percent. Without it … whew. I don’t know how I could have played.”
“I am really proud of our offense – give [offensive coordinator] Bryan Stinespring credit,” Beamer said. “I think they did a good job. I am as proud as I can be of these guys.”
Playing at home for just the second time since Sept. 13th, the Hokies’ defense was stout in this contest as well. Though the Terps’ Chris Turner piled up 240 passing yards, 63 of those came on a busted coverage play in which Darrius Heyward-Bey raced to an easy touchdown with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter. Tech allowed less than nothing on the ground, though, accumulating eight tackles for a loss of 44 yards – including three sacks for minus-26 – to hold a team to negative rushing yardage for the second time in less than a year. Tech held Miami to minus-2 yards rushing on Nov. 17th of last season.
“Hats off to the defense,” Glennon said. “Aside from that one play, they played a heckuva game.”
The toss from Glennon to Boone opened the game’s scoring at the 2:49 of the first quarter and capped one of Tech’s longest drives of the season, an 11-play, 71-yard march that lasted 6:22. It was the second scoring pass of the year for Glennon and the second touchdown catch of the season for Boone. Evans tallied 49 yards on the ground during the drive.
Maryland answered on the ensuing possession with a 41-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze, but Tech added 10 points in the final four minutes of the half to give itself a healthy, 17-3 intermission lead. The Hokies’ second scoring drive was once again keyed by Evans, who bounced off some would-be tacklers and rumbled down the left side for a 50-yard gain – the first run of 25 yards or more by a Tech tailback this season. It also tied Taylor’s 50-yard romp against Furman for the longest rush of the year by a Hokie. Seven plays later at the 3:48 mark, Evans finished off what he started, diving over the top for a 1-yard touchdown plunge, his ninth scoring play of the season.
Dustin Keys’ 35-yard field goal capped the half’s scoring with nine seconds on the clock.
Tech looked like it might run away with the game early in the third quarter after Orion Martin sacked Turner on the first play from scrimmage, jarring the ball loose and enabling Cordarrow Thompson to recover it at the Maryland 18. It was Martin’s fifth sack in the past six games, and soon thereafter, Keys chipped in a 30-yarder to set the score at 20-3.
A Maryland three-and-out was followed by a 45-yard jaunt by Evans, but the Tech offense stalled after that, and a few timely plays by the Terps – as well as some gaffes by the Hokies – got Maryland right back into the game.
Tech punter Brent Bowden pinned the Terps on their own 2 with 11:04 left in the third, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the Hokies got Maryland out of trouble. Five plays later, Turner hit Heyward-Bey on the 63-yard scoring strike that cut the deficit to 10.
Tech ran four plays on its next possession before being forced to punt, but Maryland’s Torrey Smith partially blocked it and gave the Terps good field position at their own 45. The Tech defense held strong and forced Maryland to punt it right back, but the ball bounced off of Kam Chancellor and into the hands of Maryland’s Tony Logan at the Tech 11. Egekeze’s 21-yard field goal at 2:29 made it 20-13, setting things up for the all-important fourth quarter.
That’s when Evans got back to business, though, and the Indianapolis, Ind., native rushed for 97 yards in the fourth quarter alone to etch his name into the Tech record books. Keys added three insurance points with a 27-yard kick at 5:58 – the Lou Groza Award semifinalist has now converted 19 of 22 field-goal attempts on the season and is three shy of tying Tech’s single-season mark – to set what ended up being the final score.
The Hokies return to action next Thursday at Miami with another 7:30 p.m. ESPN game that will be key in the ACC’s Coastal Division race.
“It’s just what we needed,” Glennon said of the Maryland win. “Coming off two losses and yet still being able to control our own destiny, we needed to start things off a bang. What better way to start it than with a home game on a Thursday night? We took care of business offensively and defensively, and now we head to Miami next week.”
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).
- INTEGRITY - SERVICE - HONOR - EXCELLENCE - STRONG TOGETHER