BLACKSBURG – Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown scored on a 3-yard run in overtime after Virginia Tech had hit a field goal on its first possession of the extra period, and the touchdown lifted the Terrapins to a 27-24 victory over the Hokies in an ACC game Saturday at Lane Stadium.
Tech’s loss snapped a five-game winning streak against the Terrapins and left the Hokies at 7-4 overall, 4-3 in the ACC. The Hokies do remain alive for the ACC’s Coastal Division crown, but need help to reach the league’s title game.
For Tech’s seniors, it wasn’t the way they wanted to go out. The Hokies lost their final home game of the season for the first time since 2003.
“We didn’t take advantage of some early opportunities, and the longer they hung around, the better they got,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said of the Terrapins. “That’s to their credit, and that’s the story of it.
“I thought that we would come out a sharper football team than we did today. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but I think if we’d been sharp early, things could have been different.”
Tech rallied from a 14-point deficit to force overtime when it got a 5-yard touchdown pass from Logan Thomas to Willie Byrn with 9:32 left in the game. The Hokies had the ball two more times after that score, but went three-and-out on each possession.
In overtime, Tech lost the coin toss, and Maryland elected to play defense, so the Hokies took over on the Maryland 25. They got to the Maryland 6, but on third-and-goal, Thomas was sacked for a 7-yard loss – one of seven sacks on the day by the Terrapins – and the Hokies settled for a 31-yard field goal by Eric Kristensen, the freshman walk-on who filled in for dismissed kicker Cody Journell.
On Maryland’s possession, the Terrapins got a 7-yard run from tailback Brandon Ross to the Tech 18 to open the drive and then a 15-yard run from Ross to the Tech 3. Another Ross run did not gain a yard, but on second-and-goal, Brown rushed to his left, reached out and touched the pylon for the touchdown.
Officials reviewed the play, but the call stood, and Maryland’s players celebrated the snapping of a three-game losing streak.
“Obviously, that was pretty awful to watch,” Tech mike linebacker Jack Tyler said. “We worked our butts off all week to get this win. We needed it. We just didn’t do enough to get it.”
“I bet we’ll go back and look at how many times we had a chance to win this football game,” Beamer said. “But I don’t want to take away from them because their quarterback made some great runs. We couldn’t catch him a couple of times and couldn’t tackle him a couple of times.”
Brown hurt the Hokies on the ground, running for 122 yards on 23 carries and scoring two touchdowns. He became just the second Tech opponent this season to rush for more than 100 yards against the Hokies.
“I don’t think we tackled sharply, and usually when you don’t tackle well, that means you aren’t full-tilt and ready to play,” Beamer said. “And we’re a good tackling football team, but he broke a lot of tackles and he made some good plays. He made some really good throws once they got going, and I give him credit.”
The Hokies jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the game when a 76-yard drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Trey Edmunds. Kristensen made the extra point to give the Hokies a seven-point lead with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
Kristensen had a chance to add to Tech’s lead five minutes later. The Hokies lined up for a 34-yard attempt, but Kristensen pulled it left, and it glanced off the left upright with 3:49 left in the first quarter.
That seemed to deflate the Hokies, who amassed just two first downs the rest of the half. Maryland tied the game on a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown by William Likely with 7:47 left in the first half, and then grabbed a 14-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Brown with 17 seconds left in the first half.
The Terrapins took a 21-7 lead on their first possession of the second half. Brown threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Terrapins a 14-point lead with 12:58 left in the third quarter.
Tech got back in the game thanks to two touchdown passes by Thomas – a 1-yarder to D.J. Coles and the 5-yarder to Byrn. Thomas completed 19 of 31 for 210 yards and no interceptions.
Thomas, who went over the 10,000-yard mark in his career for total offense, lost for the first time as a starter when he didn’t throw an interception. The Hokies had been 15-0 when he didn’t throw a pick going into this game.
“Going forward, it’s all about UVa,” Thomas said. “That’s the rivalry we’ve got take care of.
“I told the younger guys to remember this game. This is not the way you want to go out on your senior day and not to let it happen again. This is supposed to be a day you remember the rest of your life. I want them to bounce back, and I let them know I care about them.”
The Hokies close the regular season against in-state rival Virginia on Nov. 30 in Charlottesville, Va. The kickoff time has yet to be determined.
“There’s not a more important game on our schedule than Virginia,” Beamer said. “Just ask our fans. So we’ve got that to play for. We’re bowl eligible, and I’ve never been to a bad bowl. It is what is right now.”
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).
For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).