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Virginia loses 5th straight to Maryland 27-20

Associated Press Published: October 13, 2012
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — It was the same message from Virginia coach Mike London after another disheartening loss all but eliminated the Cavaliers from bowl contention.

"The worst thing we could do now is start pointing fingers and blaming and things like that," London said after Maryland extended the Cavaliers' losing streak to five with a 27-20 victory Saturday.

He vowed to continue to work hard and make sure the players are "coached up" so they have a chance to turn things around.

"We want to play well on the field, and we will play well on the field," London said.

Looking at the stat sheet, it doesn't appear the Cavaliers (2-5, 0-3 ACC) played that poorly against the Terrapins. They held Maryland to minus-2 yards rushing and ran for 168 yards themselves — the most allowed this season by the seventh-leading run defense in the nation. They outgained Maryland (4-2, 2-0) 386 yards to 235 yards overall, and had 20 first downs to the Terrapins' 10.

"Not enough good things happened to us today at the end to pull this thing out," London said. "Great effort by these guys, but great effort doesn't end the result with a 'W.' It's still a loss."

The difference was a handful of explosive plays by Maryland — including Stefon Diggs' 100-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff — and a pair of costly turnovers by Virginia quarterback Phillip Sims.

Sims, an Alabama transfer making his second start, threw an interception that led to Maryland's second touchdown — a 20-yard pass from freshman Perry Hills to Justus Pickett. His night ended with a fumble at the Virginia 15 that led to a Maryland field goal that widened the Terrapins' lead to 14 with 6:08 remaining.

Backup Michael Rocco came on and promptly led a 10-play, 81-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jake McGee to make it 27-20 with 4:10 left. But after a three-and-out by Maryland, Rocco's last four passes fell incomplete.

"It's kind of indicative of the season with these plays at the most opportune times that are not being made," London said.

It was a rough night all around for Sims, who had several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and was sacked five times. He finished 13 of 28 for 139 yards and one touchdown, a 20-yard strike to E.J. Scott that cut Maryland's lead to 17-10 late in the third period.

"I don't think anyone wants to be benched. It's disappointing," said Sims. "They just said Rocco is in and there isn't much talking about it in a situation like that."

Rocco took no solace in his one successful drive.

"My job is to win the game regardless of what situation I'm put in or my role on the team," he said. "We came up short."

Maryland coach Randy Edsall said he wasn't surprised to see Rocco in relief, saying he "is the best pure passer of the two."

Kevin Parks did his part for the Cavaliers, rushing for a career-high 129 yards.

But it wasn't enough to offset the big plays by Diggs and others. Along with the kickoff return, Diggs had a dazzling 60-yard catch-and-run to set up the Maryland field goal that made it 17-0 late in the first quarter.

"That was a great start, and to get the first three scores, to put 17 up," said Edsall said.

He credited his defense with stopping the Cavaliers when they got into the red zone, resulting in a blocked line-drive field goal attempt by Drew Jarrett and the first two field goals of Ian Frye's career.

"That's something that I'm really proud of in terms that they hung in there and found a way to get it done," he said.

Parks was at a loss to explain the Cavaliers' red-zone difficulties.

"We're going to keep working and striving every week to fix that problem," he said.


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