West Virginia holds off Maryland
No. 18 Mountaineers jump out to early lead, hang on for win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Geno Smith threw for a career-high 388 yards, and No. 18 West Virginia withstood a furious comeback by Maryland to pull out a 37-31 victory Saturday.
After the Mountaineers (3-0) let a 24-point lead dwindle to 34-31 with 10:29 remaining, Smith directed a 14-play, 65-yard drive that produced a field goal with 4:42 left.
The Terrapins (1-1) then moved to the West Virginia 35 before Eain Smith intercepted a Danny O’Brien pass with 1:13 remaining to saddle coach Randy Edsall with his first defeat at Maryland.
|West Virginia at Maryland|
Both teams used the no-huddle offense with uncanny efficiency. West Virginia finished with 480 yards and Maryland amassed 477.
Smith had 232 yards passing in the first half to help the Mountaineers take a 17-point lead. The junior then threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey on West Virginia’s first possession of the third quarter to make it 34-10.
The Terrapins scored three consecutive touchdowns to cut the gap to 34-31, thrilling the sellout crowd of 53,627. But Maryland couldn’t complete the comeback.
Smith went 36 for 49 with a touchdown, a suitable encore to a 371-yard, four TD performance against Norfolk State last week. The Mountaineers trailed 12-10 at halftime in that one, but against the Terrapins, their best half was the first.
It was the first road game for West Virginia under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen, who successfully stamped his name on a rivalry that began in 1919. The Mountaineers have now won the last six games between the two schools.
Tavon Austin had 11 catches for 122 yards for West Virginia and Terence Garvin returned his first career interception 37 yards for a score. Austin and Garvin both played high school ball in Baltimore.
O’Brien completed 34 of 52 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown, but he threw three interceptions. Davin Meggett rushed for 113 yards and a score, but the Terrapins came up short in their effort to build on their 32-24 win over Miami in the opener.
Down 34-10, Maryland failed on a fourth-down try from the West Virginia 7. The Terps then used a touchdown run by Meggett and two by D.J. Adams to get within a field goal.
Stopping Smith, however, proved too daunting a task.
The Mountaineers got to the Maryland 37 on their first possession before Andrew Buie lost a fumble. The Terrapins then kicked a field goal at the end of a 77-yard drive fueled by a pair of 15-yard penalties.
West Virginia responded by moving 88 yards. After Smith completed six straight passes for 63 yards, Vernard Roberts ran it in from the 9.
Just over a minute later, the Mountaineers made it 14-3 on Garvin’s interception return. West Virginia added a field goal after Smith scrambled out of the pocket and connected with Austin for a 47-yard gain.
O’Brien’s second interception followed, this one at the West Virginia 39 by Darwin Cook. Smith lost a fumble on third down, but Maryland couldn’t convert the miscue into points.
After taking over on downs, the Mountaineers zipped downfield to take a 24-3 lead. A 36-yard completion from Smith to Ivan McCartney set up a 10-yard touchdown by Buie.
Kevin Dorsey made an excellent grab in the end zone of an 18-yard pass from O’Brien to cut the gap to 24-10.