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Terrapins were their own worst enemy
Question of the Day
So often in Maryland’s recent meetings with West Virginia, the Mountaineers’ surplus of athleticism created a rather predictable formula: build a comfortable lead thanks to big plays against an overmatched defense.
The Terrapins couldn’t help but to find a different culprit Saturday as they looked back on a 37-31 loss at Byrd Stadium.
“We let them off the hook a couple times,” defensive tackle Joe Vellano said.
It was especially apparent with Maryland’s ill-timed penchant for penalties. Terp defenders were flagged four times, all on possessions the Mountaineers eventually managed to score.
A pass interference penalty on third-and-13 extended an eventual touchdown drive that might have ended with a 41-yard field goal attempt. An illegal hands to the face call put the Mountaineers on the Maryland 10; a play later, they scored.
A facemask penalty negated what would have been a third-and-23 for the Mountaineers early in the second half. West Virginia eventually collected a touchdown and a 34-10 lead as a result.
Toss in a holding penalty during the Mountaineers’ field goal drive to cap the first half, and penalties indirectly helped West Virginia score 24 points. A case can be made the Terps (1-1) gave away a minimum of 11 points as a result of their infractions.
“It’s something we stress all the time,” coach Randy Edsall said. “It’s frustrating.”
It was a significant shift from Maryland’s season-opening victory against Miami. The Terps were assessed four penalties during the 32-24 win, and only two were on the defense.
One, however, was a holding penalty on a third-and-17 to permit Miami to continue a possession that ended with a field goal to give the Hurricanes a 24-23 lead late in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes people will make mistakes; that’s understandable,” Edsall said. “When there are mistakes from one game to another, that starts to be a cause for concern. As a staff, we have to make sure there is somebody in to play [penalty-free] if those mistakes occur game after game after game.”
In this situation, the timing of some of the infractions simply exacerbated greater concerns. West Virginia threw for 388 yards, shredding the Terps underneath with their elusive receivers, and scored on six of its first nine possessions.
Every Maryland mistake made it easier for the Mountaineers to escape with their sixth straight win in the series, a major lesson as the Terps move forward to Saturday’s meeting with Temple (2-1) in College Park.
“That was a big deal,” safety Matt Robinson said. “Most of those penalties were on third and long. We get a flag or they get a big gain, and that really hurt us. We’re ready to stop them and get our offense back on the field, but we just weren’t able to do that at some points.”
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About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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