Virginia falls to Maryland 27-26 in rivalry finale
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Virginia ran 93 plays, amassed 505 yards in offense and was poised to secure an Atlantic Coast Conference victory on the road in the closing seconds.
Coach Mike London would prefer to remember those aspects of Saturday’s game rather than the final score: Maryland 27, Cavaliers 26.
“I’m very proud of the team. I’m very proud of the effort,” London said.
Coming off a 14-3 loss at Pittsburgh and an embarrassing 48-27 defeat at home against Ball State, Virginia (2-4, 0-2) gave the Terrapins (5-1, 1-1) all they could handle in what was likely the final installment of a border rivalry that began in 1919.
“The kids were resilient,” London said. But he added, “We’ve got to do better so we have the opportunity to win games like that.”
Caleb Rowe threw for 332 yards and hit tight end Dave Stinebaugh for the go-ahead score with 5:14 left for Maryland in a back-and-forth duel that featured five lead changes and 973 yards in offense.
Rowe’s 12-yard touchdown pass made it 27-26. Virginia moved to the Maryland 24-yard line in the closing seconds before Alec Vozenilek’s 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 10 seconds remaining.
“Alec should not shoulder the blame or anything like that,” London said. “That’s his first miss since he’s been here kicking. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
Rowe made his second career start in place of C.J. Brown, who sustained a concussion in last week’s 63-0 loss at Florida State. Rowe went 18 for 34 and directed an offense that accumulated 468 yards.
Brandon Ross ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns for the Terrapins, who ended a three-game skid at home against the Cavaliers.
The Terrapins and Cavaliers have played every season since 1957. But Maryland is leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference next year to join the Big Ten, leaving the future of the series in doubt.
As it stands now, Maryland leads 44-32-2.
“We know that’s probably the biggest rivalry we have in football here at the University of Maryland,” Terps coach Randy Edsall said. “So to be able to beat them the last time, it’s something special.”
David Watford went 27 for 44 for 263 yards and a score, and tight end Jake McGee had eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown for the Cavaliers. Kevin Parks ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Khalek Shepherd contributed 81 yards rushing to an offense that did not commit a turnover.
“It was a tough game but we stayed in there. We battled,” Watford said. “They threw punches, we threw punches back. It was a hard one. Just knowing we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that we had, that’s the toughest part for me.”
The Terrapins trailed 23-20 in the fourth quarter when a Virginia punt hit a Maryland player and was recovered by the Cavaliers. That led to Vozenilek’s fourth field goal with 7:11 remaining.
Rowe brought the Terrapins back with the help of two exceptional receptions. First, Deon Long leaped between two defenders to grab a floater on a third-and-22 for a 47-yard gain to the Virginia 13.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but Deon ran the wrong route,” Rowe said. “He just made a great catch. Deon is a great player and I just gave him a jump ball and he came down with it.”
London might remember that play more than any other.
“We talk about the missed field goal at the end, but on third-and-22 like that, you get off the field,” London said. “It’s a critical difference.”
Down at halftime, Maryland got two field goals from Brad Craddock in the third quarter to take a 20-16 lead. Craddock’s second 3-pointer came after Rowe ran 19 yards on a third-and-13 and followed that with a 21-yard completion to Stefon Diggs.
The advantage disappeared when Parks scored on a 6-yard run with 13:15 left in the game.
Vozenilek kicked three field goals, and the Cavaliers took advantage of two Maryland turnovers in going up 16-14 at halftime.
Virginia’s first possession ended with a punt. William Likely fumbled the kick, Darius Lee recovered for the Cavaliers and Vozenilek made it 3-0.
Minutes later, Watford completed passes of 16 and 38 yards to McGee in a drive that produced another field goal after Parks was twice stuffed at the 1-yard line.
“One score in the red zone might have been the difference in the game,” London said.
The Terrapins went up 7-6 late in the quarter when Ross turned a screen pass into a 77-yard gain, then ran it in from the 1.
After a holding penalty wiped out a Maryland touchdown, Rowe lost a fumble. But the Terrapins got the ball back, and Ross made it 14-6 with a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Cavaliers then closed to 14-13, using a 44-yard run by Shepherd set up a 4-yard TD pass to McGee.