ATLANTA -- The heavy underdog Maryland football team threw everything it had at No. 9 Georgia Tech last night.
Little-known junior wide receiver Doug Patterson threw a 29-yard option pass to Jermaine Arrington. Tailback LaMont Jordan tossed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Arrington.
And there were other flashes of razzle-dazzle and big plays by the upset-minded Terps in front of a national ESPN television audience.
But Maryland had no answers for Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton and his flashy teammate, wide receiver Dez White.
"A win feels good," said the quarterback who set a school record with 474 yards total offense and tied a career high with 387 yards passing. "We were able to take advantage of some opportunities that Maryland presented to us out there."
Then Hamilton talked about what has driven him and the Yellow Jackets (3-1) into the elite ranks of collegiate football.
"We have the mentality that every time we touch the ball, we're going to get it into the end zone," he said. "Whatever approach I can take, or whatever I can do to make that come true to get it in the end zone, I'm going to do it."
Hamilton and Georgia Tech bolted across the goal line seven times last night in this Atlantic Coast Conference shoot out, dropping Maryland to 3-1 and handing the Terps a loss in their league opener.
Until last night, Maryland had visions of making a leap into the upper echelon of the ACC and there was still a ray of hope after a losing performance that bordered on a moral victory.
"We're a little stung, if you pardon the expression," said Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden. "I had hoped that our defense wouldn't give up so many big plays and it really hurt to give up 14 points in the last two minutes of the first half. You can't afford to do that to Joe Hamilton and Georgia Tech."
Redshirt Maryland freshman quarterback Calvin McCall had tried to convince his teammates they could win every game, which they had until last night.
"Joe Hamilton beat us," said McCall. "That's what happened tonight. And we didn't take an opportunity to seize control of the game in the second quarter. It really hurt us to get down by 11 at halftime."
So exactly what was the total damage done by Hamilton?
He completed 19 of 31 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns and ran 41 yards for a touchdown, winding up with 13 rushes for 87 yards.
If the Terps only had to worry about Hamilton, they might have had a chance. But White is also a force.
White caught five passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns -- all before the fourth quarter.
Hamilton said of White: "He's special. He can stretch the defense on any given play and is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. He opens up the running game. He's a player that needs attention and two or three guys on him. We have so many guys like that out there that you can't give the attention you need to Dez."
But there were some heroes in a losing cause for a Maryland team that kept battling.
Tailback LaMont Jordan ran and passed his way to three touchdowns and junior cornerback Lewis Sanders came up with his fourth interception in four games. Sanders also gained the respect of Hamilton, as the quarterback stayed away from his side of the field most of the night.
There was also an 84-yard kickoff return by Guilian Gary and little-known wide receiver Patterson threw the first pass of his career on an option play.
Patterson tossed a 29-yard completion to Arrington late in the first quarter, setting up a 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter that give Maryland a 17-14 lead.
Jordan threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Arrington with 14 seconds left in the third quarter, cutting the Georgia Tech lead to 42-31.
Jordan also rushed for two touchdowns and wound up with 27 carries for 79 yards.
"We should have kept on scoring," said Jordan. "I could have scored two more touchdowns if I hadn't been tripped on a screen pass when I was open over the middle and if I could have broken loose on another run in the third quarter."
Said Vanderlinden: "[Jordan] just never broke the big one. It really killed us to give up those 14 points in less than two minutes at the end of the first half."
McCall completed 15 of 30 for 221 yards, which were all tops in his young career. But he had no success at running the option and finished with minus-11 yards on three carries.
Hamilton drove the Yellow Jackets 70 yards for a touchdown with 1: 29 left in the first half, giving the home team a 21-17 lead.
Then came probably the biggest play of the game for the Terps. Unable to move the ball, they had to punt and Sean Starner shanked one 8 yards to give Georgia Tech the ball 30 yards from the end zone with 28 seconds left.
It took Hamilton just two plays to hit Kerry Watkins for a 30-yard score and a quick 28-17 lead at half-time.
Next for Terps
Opponent: Wake Forest
Site: Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.
When: Oct. 9, noon
Series: Maryland leads 33-13-1