COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Despite throwing three interceptions, Tech quarterback Marcus Vick rushed for a career-high 133 yards and scored a touchdown, and Tech's defense kept Maryland's offense in check as the Hokies escaped with a 28-9 victory over Maryland in an ACC game played Thursday night in front of 54,838 fans at Byrd Stadium.
With the win, the No. 3-ranked Hokies remained perfect on the season, going to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC. Maryland fell to 4-3 overall, 2-2 in the league.
Tech won despite committing four turnovers - the Hokies went into the game having committed just two the entire season - and playing sloppily in the red zone, particularly in the first half. The Hokies got inside the Maryland 10-yard line on three occasions in the first 30 minutes, but came away with just seven points. The other two drives ended on a fumble by Mike Imoh and a missed field goal by Brandon Pace.
"We did a lot of things out of character tonight," Tech coach Frank Beamer said after the game. "But I think you draw on things you did well. Offensively, we made some things happen in the second half, and defensively, we were able to stop Maryland after we had committed some turnovers.
"We did things that weren't us. We got to the 1 and didn't score. We turned the ball over. We had some penalties. We've got some things we've got to get corrected. But we hung in there, played hard and got the win."
Tech's defense played a huge role in that, particularly in the second half. Maryland amassed just 96 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes and failed to take advantage of any of Vick's three third-quarter interceptions. The Terps' Dan Ennis missed two field goals in the quarter and Tech held Maryland to three-and-out after the other interception.
"That was a big part of the game," said Tech defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis, who recorded two sacks in the game. "We work a lot on sudden changes. We take pride in that, and we had good outcomes tonight. We showed how good of a defense we can be."
Vick got the Hokies on the board with an 8-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, giving Tech a 7-0 lead. Tech appeared to be ready to add to that lead on its next possession, driving to the Maryland 1. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Beamer went for it, but Imoh fumbled trying to stretch the ball over the goal line. Maryland's Gerrick McPhearson recovered, giving the Terps the ball.
Maryland then cut into the lead. Aided by a personal foul penalty on Tech's Vince Hall after the Hokies had stopped Maryland on a third-and-10, the Terps drove to the Tech 21 before stalling. Yet Hall's penalty enabled them to get on the board as kicker Dan Ennis hit a 38-yard field goal to cut the Tech lead to 7-3 with three minutes to go in the first half.
On the ensuing possession, Tech again went on the march. This time, the Hokies drove to the Maryland 1 again, but Vick failed to get in on a quarterback sneak and then fumbled the handoff on the next play, putting Tech back at the 4. A false start on the Hokies pushed the ball back to the 9, where they lined up for a Pace field-goal attempt. Pace hit the left upright and Tech led just 7-3 at halftime.
In the second half, Vick threw three interceptions - all three in the third quarter and all three on consecutive possessions. But the Hokies put the game away with three touchdowns in the second half, scoring on Imoh's 2-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter and on Imoh's 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Branden Ore's 4-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth accounted for the final score.
Imoh's second touchdown capped a 99-yard drive - the longest in school history - and pretty much iced the game for the Hokies.
"That was a huge drive," Imoh said. "We just played hard and stayed together there. We knew we had to step up and get some first downs. We were able to keep the chains moving and good things happened."
Vick, the redshirt junior from Newport News, Va., completed 14-of-23 for 211 yards, with the three interceptions. He accounted for 344 yards of total offense, but for the first time this season, he failed to throw at least one touchdown pass in a game.
"Three interceptions, that makes it a horrible night for me," Vick said. "I forced some throws and my fundamentals weren't right a couple of times. I just made some poor throws. I'm upset with myself about that."
Imoh, playing in front of many family and friends who made the short drive from his hometown of Fairfax, Va., rushed for 86 yards and scored the two touchdowns. As a team, Tech rushed for 286 yards and finished with nearly 500 yards of total offense.
Tech now gets ready for the second of its' back-to-back Thursday night games as Boston College comes to Blacksburg on Oct. 27th. Kickoff is slated for 7:45 p.m., with ESPN televising the game.