7:45 PM ET, November 13, 2003
Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Josh Allen picked the ideal stage to shed his image as Maryland's "other" running back.
Allen ran for a career-high 257 yards and two touchdowns, and Maryland kept its Atlantic Coast Conference title hopes alive by defeating Virginia 27-17 Thursday night.
Bruce Perry, the sixth-leading rusher in Maryland history, could not play because of a severe ankle sprain. It didn't matter, though, because Allen carried the load all by himself in the nationally televised contest.
"Josh Allen had an unbelievable night," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He really came through for us big-time."
Allen ran for 154 yards in the first half, when the Terrapins scored on four of five possessions to take a 24-7 lead. That proved to be enough offense to provide Maryland with its second win over the Cavaliers in 11 tries since 1991.
The Terrapins (7-3, 4-2) can finish tied atop the ACC if North Carolina State beats league-leading Florida State on Saturday and Maryland wins its final two games.
A year ago, Maryland's bid for a second straight ACC title was ruined by a 48-13 loss to Virginia. Not only did the Terrapins extract a measure of revenge, but they finished unbeaten (6-0) at home for only the 19th time in the 111-year history of the program.
Allen, a sophomore, carried 38 times. The 257-yard effort ranks third in school history and was nearly twice his previous career high of 136 yards.
"I wanted to make sure I could carry the load like my team needed me to," he said. "The offensive line played a great game. My performance is just a reflection of what they did."
His numbers may have surprised the 51,027 fans and the TV audience, but Virginia coach Al Groh knew Allen had the potential to shred any defense.
"He's been doing it for quite a while," Groh said. "Unless you've been out of the country, you know that Josh Allen is a quality back. He played like one tonight."
Matt Schaub ran for a touchdown, threw for a score and nearly brought the Cavaliers (5-5, 3-4) back in the second half. He passed for 186 yards to overtake Shawn Moore as the school's career leader in passing yardage.
"We gave it a good go, but in our business there are no medals for trying. It looked to me like another chapter in the same story," Groh said. "Once again we just made it too hard on ourselves."
Schaub's 14-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Pearman got the Cavaliers to 24-14 with six minutes left in the third quarter, and he directed a 46-yard drive that produced a field goal with 9:15 left.
But Maryland's Nick Novak kicked a 45-yard field goal with 3:42 to go after a 19-yard run by Allen produced a first down at the Virginia 29.
The game was played in a 40 mph wind, and the temperature dipped near freezing.
Maryland took the opening kickoff and moved 84 yards in 11 plays to go up 7-0. Allen ran eight times for 38 yards and the Virginia twice extended the drive with third-down penalties before Scott McBrien threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Latrez Harrison.
The Terrapins made it 14-0 early in the second quarter when Allen scored from 1 after Jafar Williams outleaped Virginia safety Jermaine Hardy on a 41-yard completion.
At that point, Maryland held a 168-53 advantage in total yardage.
Virginia quickly remedied that, moving 80 yards in nine plays to close to 14-7. A well-timed screen pass to Wali Lundy covered 62 yards, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by Schaub on a quarterback draw.
It took Maryland only 14 seconds to restore its 14-point cushion -- the amount of time it took Allen to cover 80 yards after squeezing through a tiny hole on the right side.
After a Virginia punt, the Terrapins moved 45 yards and went up 24-7 on a 33-yard field goal by Novak with 32 seconds left in the half.