By the time running back Darren Evans was finished Thursday night in Virginia Tech's 23-13 win against Maryland, he'd produced a night to remember for a team that needed an offensive spark in the worst way.
Evans had 32 carries for a school-record 253 yards and a touchdown to help Tech get to within a half-game of Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division. He broke the previous single-game rushing record held by Mike Imoh, who ran for 243 yards in 2004 against North Carolina.
Tech (6-3 overall, 3-2 ACC), which increased its record to 15-3 in Thursday night games and became bowl-eligible for the 16th consecutive season, had 400 yards of offense compared to just 228 for Maryland. It was the first time Tech hit at least 400 yards this season. Its previous high was 377, in a win against Nebraska.
"It's good when you're in the game and you're breaking home runs and you're tired," Evans said. "That's the way I like to be. I like to be tired. It makes me know that I'm doing something."
That's an understatement. Evans was responsible for 144 yards on just four carries — runs of 50, 45, 29 and 20. It was the first 100-yard-plus rushing game of his career.
"We said we needed to run the ball better," said Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose team was averaging 160 yards rushing per game coming into Thursday night. "He kind of got in there and got hot. When he got hot, we just kept giving it to him."
Despite being listed as questionable coming into the game with a high left ankle sprain, along with Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon started and completed 14 of 20 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Greg Boone, a tight end who practiced at quarterback the past two weeks, came in to play quarterback for seven snaps.
Glennon capped a first-quarter drive by lofting a 5-yard touchdown pass to Boone, who beat linebacker Alex Wujciak to put Tech ahead 7-0 with 2:49 left.
Maryland (6-3, 3-2) bounced back on the next drive with a 41-yard field goal by Obi Egekeze to trim Tech's lead to 7-3 with 13:36 left in the second quarter.
Tech's next touchdown drive featured more rotation of the quarterbacks than any other drive of the game. Glennon started the drive at quarterback, and Evans ripped off a 50-yard run on first down to get to Maryland's 30-yard line. Glennon proceeded to play four more downs at quarterback on the drive, and Boone came in to play quarterback on three downs.
Evans finished off the eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to extend Tech's advantage to 14-3 with 3:48 left in the half. Tech wasted no time getting momentum turned its way in the third quarter, as defensive end Orion Martin sacked Chris Turner on the first play and forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Cordarrow Thompson picked up the loose ball to set up Tech at Maryland's 18.
Tech settled for a 30-yard field goal by Dustin Keys with 12:44 left to push its lead to 20-3. It looked like a comfortable lead for Tech, but an old habit looked like it was going to return: relinquishing leads. Tech blew 10-point leads in losses to Boston College and Florida State.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey sparked the Terrapins when he took a short pass from Turner on third-and-5 from Maryland's 37 and raced 63 yards for a TD. It trimmed Tech's lead to 20-10 with 6:43 left in the third quarter.
Tech's next drive stalled, and Maryland's Torrey Smith came through the line untouched on fourth-and-5 to block Brent Bowden's punt from Tech's 40. Maryland took over at its 45 and looked ready to give the ball right back to Tech after taking an 11-yard loss via a sack by linebacker Cody Grimm on third-and-9 from the Hokies' 33.
But the Terrapins dodged a change of possession when Travis Baltz's punt bounced off Tech's Kam Chancellor at the Hokies' 11 and was recovered by Maryland's Tony Logan. Maryland could only tack on a 27-yard field goal by Egekeze, reducing Tech's lead to 20-13 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.
But Maryland never crossed midfield again. The Terrapins had just six more plays and didn't pick up another first down. Maryland's Da'Rel Scott, who entered the game leading the ACC with 103 rushing yards per game, finished with 10 carries for 11 yards.
"I like it when we're up by 10 and you don't really relax, but you're not worried about their plays as much," said Grimm, who had seven tackles. "When it gets within seven, it's like 'This can't happen again.' It seemed like we were losing some momentum. … We were just able to buckle down and get the win."
VIRGINIA TECH 23, No. 23 MARYLAND 13Maryland03100 — 13Virginia Tech71033 — 23First Quarter VT—Boone 5 pass from Glennon (Keys kick), 2:49.
Second Quarter Md—FG Egekeze 41, 13:36. VT—D.Evans 1 run (Keys kick), 3:48. VT—FG Keys 35, :09.
Third Quarter VT—FG Keys 30, 12:44. Md—Heyward-Bey 63 pass from Turner (Egekeze kick), 6:43. Md—FG Egekeze 27, 2:29.
Fourth Quarter VT—FG Keys 27, 7:30. A—66,233. MdVTFirst downs1220Rushes-yards18-(-12)51-273Passing240127Comp-Att-Int19-31-014-21-0Return Yards520Punts-Avg.6-48.35-39.2Fumbles- Lost1-11-1Penalties-Yards3-198-55Time of Possession22:2637:34INDIVIDUAL STATISTICSRUSHING—Maryland, Meggett 4-13, Scott 10-11, Heyward-Bey 1-(minus 10), Turner 3-(minus 26). Virginia Tech, D.Evans 32-253, Boone 6-22, Harris 1-8, Roberts 1-3, Oglesby 1-1, Coale 1-(minus 3), team 3-(minus 5), Glennon 6-(minus 6).
PASSING—Maryland, Turner 19-31-0-240. Virginia Tech, Glennon 14-20-0-127, team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Maryland, Heyward-Bey 5-92, Scott 5-57, Smith 4-62, T.Watson 1-11, Oquendo 1-10, Gronkowski 1-4, I.Williams 1-4, Meggett 1-0. Virginia Tech, Coale 3-38, Boykin 3-13, Boone 2-31, D.Evans 2-20, Oglesby 2-1, Roberts 1-13, Pickle 1-11.
Next game WHO: Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC) at Miami (6-3, 3-2). WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. TV: ESPN.