Maryland routs Va. Tech in Pinstripe Bowl

Terrapins hoist George M. Steinbrenner trophy as Tagovailoa earns MVP honors

December 30th, 2021

Virginia Tech wore the Yankees’ famed interlocking ‘NY’ on their helmets, but the University of Maryland looked most at home during Wednesday’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa completed 20 of 24 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, earning honors as the game’s most valuable player while leading Maryland to a 54-10 rout of Virginia Tech in the Bronx.

“It’s a great feeling,” Tagovailoa said. “Coming into this game, we knew what was at stake. We are just happy it didn’t get canceled. It means a lot for our Maryland family, our fans. They’ve been waiting a long time for us to have a winning season and make bowl games and win a lot of games. We feel like the best is ahead.”

29,653 were on hand to watch the Terrapins improve to 7-6, celebrating their first bowl victory since 2010 by hoisting the George M. Steinbrenner trophy.

Tarheeb Still set a Maryland record by returning a punt 92 yards for a touchdown and Tagovailoa -- the younger brother of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa -- hit Darryl Jones for touchdown receptions of 70 and 32 yards, respectively.

“Our players had a tremendous experience here,” said Maryland head coach Michael Locksley. “The way they ran this thing all week long was a first-class bowl event. The icing on the cake is playing in Yankee Stadium, where so many champions have played. It’s something that sets the trajectory for where this program could be.”

Virginia Tech finished its season with a 6-7 record, despite the Hokies doing their best Mariano Rivera impression by taking the field to Metallica’s "Enter Sandman" and a meaningful tweak to their gameday uniform.

The school’s helmets featured the Yankees’ white interlocking "NY" outlined in Hokies orange on the maroon headgear. The gesture was similar to one that the Yankees made in March 2008, when the big league roster wore maroon "NY" caps during a visit to the Blacksburg campus for an exhibition game.

Following an April 16, 2007, mass shooting on campus, Steinbrenner personally directed the New York Yankees Foundation to make a $1 million contribution to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

“I thought of The Boss,” said Yankees president Randy Levine. “I thought, ‘What a beautiful tribute,’ and that he’s looking down being happy. It was done from the heart; no one asked them to do it, just like nobody asked him to do what he did. It’s a great honor, and it really moved me.”

Wednesday’s contest concluded a week of Pinstripe Bowl festivities for both schools in New York City. The Empire State Building glowed in team colors on Tuesday as the respective clubs made final preparations for the game. New Yorkers could spot Virginia Tech’s orange and maroon alongside Maryland’s red and gold atop the iconic 102-story skyscraper.

“I can’t say enough of how we’ve been treated,” said Virginia Tech interim head coach J.C. Price. “The Yankees and everyone have been gracious hosts. This has been one of the best-run bowls I’ve been to in my 20 years as a player and as a coach.”

Members of both teams took in the sights from the top of One World Observatory and experienced the 9/11 Memorial and Museum ahead of Wednesday's contest.

“It was definitely the most impactful part of our visit,” Price added. “To watch our players go through that museum, and the time and detail those guys took to read those things, I think we probably could have spent eight hours there. That was very moving. It will probably be something I’ll keep near and dear to my heart forever.”

The inaugural Pinstripe Bowl was held in 2010. As the game’s most valuable player, Tagovailoa received the David C. Koch MVP Trophy.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going into the offseason and next season,” Tagovailoa said.