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Terps demolish West Virginia to remain unbeaten
Question of the Day
BALTIMORE — No one saw this coming. Not Maryland, and certainly not West Virginia.
A.J. Hendy scored on a 28-yard interception return and recovered two fumbles as the unbeaten Terrapins forced six turnovers in a surprisingly easy 37-0 victory over the Mountaineers on Saturday.
The Terps (4-0) figured this game would serve as an indication of how much they have improved since going 4-8 last year. After beating Florida International, Old Dominion and Connecticut earlier this season, Maryland expected to be tested by a West Virginia team that had won seven straight in this border rivalry.
The game was over by halftime. Off to their best start since 2001, the Terrapins led 30-0 at intermission after limiting the Mountaineers (2-2) to two first downs and picking off two passes.
“West Virginia, they’re always a tough team,” linebacker L.A. Goree said. “To be up 37-0 on a team like that, it’s great.”
Coach Randy Edsall, who was 1-8 lifetime against the Mountaineers, said, “It’s always good to beat West Virginia, especially after seven years of not beating them. It’s also good to be able to shut out a team with the offense that they have.”
C.J. Brown rushed for a touchdown and passed for a score to help Maryland to its most lopsided win in the series since a 54-7 blowout in 1951.
Maryland gets a bye next weekend before opening their final Atlantic Coast Conference season at Florida State.
“Here we are a third through our season and we’re 4-0. We can’t be better than that,” Edsall said. “But there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and we can get a whole lot better.”
Brown and the offense played well, but the defense did most of the damage. Not only did Hendy score, but Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil picked off a pass near the West Virginia goal line to set up another touchdown. The Terrapins also recovered four fumbles.
“The defense did a super job,” Edsall said.
West Virginia finished with 175 yards in offense in its first shutout loss since a 35-0 defeat against Virginia Tech on Oct. 6, 2001.
“Obviously, offensively, we’re as inept as we can possibly be in college football,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers appear to be in full-blown rebuilding mode after losing Geno Smith and Tavon Austin to the NFL. Redshirt freshman Ford Childress was 11 for 22 for 62 yards and two interceptions against the ball-hawking Terrapins.
“Everybody wants to point the finger at the quarterback, but it’s tough,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve committed a lot of practice time, a lot of effort, a lot of scheme into being able to run the football. And when they have five people in the box and we can’t get a yard, it’s going to cause a problem.”
West Virginia ran for 113 yards, but 51 of those came on a meaningless jaunt by Dreamius Smith in the fourth quarter.
“Basically, we just had to stop the run, because if they can’t get the run going they can’t get anything else going,” Goree said.
That made it particularly tough for Childress in his second college start.
“We could’ve had Peyton Manning back there,” Holgorsen said. “If you’re not able to get any yards in the run game, you’re not able to set your feet and throw it down field. I mean, he didn’t have a chance.”
In the first half, West Virginia compiled a mere 65 yards in offense compared to 61 yards in penalties.
Maryland took advantage of a West Virginia miscue to go up 7-0. A bouncing kick went off the leg of Mountaineers punt returner Ronald Carswell, and Hendy recovered on the West Virginia 24 to set up a deflected 6-yard touchdown pass from Brown to tight end Dave Stinebaugh.
On the second play after the kickoff, Hendy picked off a sideline pass by Childress and went the distance for a 14-0 lead.
It began to rain early in the second quarter while Maryland went on a 34-yard march that led to a 50-yard field goal by Brad Craddock.
Another three-and-out by the Mountaineers was followed by a 62-yard march that produced another field goal to make it 20-0, and Craddock added another three-pointer with 1:35 left in the half.
But Maryland wasn’t done. Cudjoe-Virgil deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and fell with it in his hands. That gave the Terrapins the ball at the West Virginia 6, and Brown scored from the 1 with 18 seconds remaining.
It rained hard in the third quarter, and many of the 55,677 fans at the home stadium of the Baltimore Ravens decided they’d seen enough. Only a few thousand were in the stands when West Virginia twice lost fumbles inside the Maryland 25.
The lone touchdown of the second half came on a 3-yard run by Brandon Ross with 4:18 remaining.
By Mark Davis
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