COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)—Now that Virginia Tech has another winning streak going, the Hokies intend to make the best of a season that once appeared in danger of falling apart.
Tyrod Taylor threw for 268 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and No. 20 Virginia Tech built an early 24-point lead before coasting past Maryland 36-9 on Saturday.
Despite the victory, the Hokies were eliminated from the Atlantic Coast Conference title chase when Georgia Tech defeated Duke. But Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2) can still play in a prestigious bowl game and wrap up a sixth consecutive 10-win season.
“Winning two games. That’s our goal now,” said Ryan Williams, who ran for 126 yards—his seventh 100-yard game of the season. He also scored his 12th touchdown, a single-season record for a Virginia Tech freshman.
Consecutive losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina last month sidetracked the Hokies’ march to a possible national championship or a berth in the Orange Bowl. But since then they’ve hammered East Carolina and Maryland.
“We had a couple of tough losses and we’ve hung in there and stayed together,” coach Frank Beamer said. “Hopefully we’ll play our best football at the end of the year. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Hokies amassed 289 yards in the first half and 484 overall. Taylor threw each of his TD passes in the opening 23 minutes to help Virginia Tech go up 27-3.
The junior finished 13 for 23 and also ran for 81 yards on eight carries.
“As long as you have Tyrod, you have a chance to be successful every offensive play,” Beamer said.
Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies are 4-0 against Maryland and have outscored the Terrapins 142-37. This one was not unlike the previous three.
“This is one of the games that we were very good at being a complete offense,” Williams said.
Wearing black and desert camouflage uniforms as a tribute to Army veterans, Maryland (2-8, 1-5) lost its fifth straight—its longest skid since 1998. Sophomore quarterback Jamarr Robinson, making his first college start in place of injured Chris Turner, ran for 129 yards on 24 carries and completed 12 of 32 passes for 104 yards.
“He makes plays with his feet,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “His throwing game has to get better. I don’t think he sees things as he needs to, and that needs to improve. But overall, it was OK.”
Kick returner/wide receiver Torrey Smith had four catches for 55 yards and set a single-season Maryland record for all-purpose yards, eclipsing the mark of 1,840 held by LaMont Jordan.
Unfortunately, the injury-riddled Terps lost two more players, defensive back Kenny Tate (ankle) and punter Travis Baltz (broken finger). Friedgen said both probably will miss Maryland’s final two games.
The Hokies took the opening kickoff and promptly moved 71 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Williams scored on a 1-yard run immediately after a 30-yard completion to Jarrett Boykin.
Robinson misfired on his first four passes, and Maryland’s initial two series produced only 1 yard of offense.
Virginia Tech made it 14-0 when Andre Smith caught a 3-yard touchdown pass to cap a 72-yard drive. Taylor then answered a Maryland field goal with a 10-yard TD pass to Dyrell Roberts.
At that point, Virginia Tech held a 209-21 lead in total yardage.
Following another Maryland punt, Taylor threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Boykin for a 27-3 lead.
In the second half, after two Virginia Tech field goals upped the margin to 30, Maryland’s Jared Harrell recovered a Taylor fumble in the end zone with 11:25 remaining.
When the game ended, Beamer and Friedgen—two longtime friends—met at midfield.
“He told me to hang in there,” Friedgen said.
Friedgen will begin the rebuilding process in two weeks. Beamer expects the Hokies to play into January.
“We talk about needing to be as good as we can be,” Beamer said. “We’ve got some work to do now and it’s not going to be easy. Whatever happens, happens. I can tell you this: I’m disappointed in the two losses right there in the middle, but I’m not disappointed in how much this football team has tried and cared about being good.”