- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2003

Once again West Virginia proved the tonic for Maryland’s ills.

For the second straight year, the Terrapins delivered a breakout effort against the Mountaineers in a dominating 34-7 victory last night before 51,973 at Byrd Stadium.

The Terps displayed the big offensive plays and smothering defense that was expected of them this season and caused the preseason pollsters to rank them No.15 before their 0-2 start. Maryland (2-2) restored its bowl hopes, as well as hopes of a third-straight 10-plus win season, and heads to Eastern Michigan (1-3) — a 32-point loser to Navy yesterday — on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers (1-3) wonder whether their once lofty expectations will be undermined by a lackluster offense that needed a turnover to set up its only score.

“This is like playing in the World Series — we’re either down 3-1 or gaining some momentum,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We’re finally coming out of our shell and playing. I’m hoping this gives us momentum.”

Last week’s 61-0 victory over Division 1-AA The Citadel got the Terps winning again, but last night’s resounding victory over a regional rival earned Maryland much-needed credibility. It was the third straight victory over West Virginia as Maryland took the lead in the series 20-19-2.

“I still think we have a lot of people who don’t believe in us,” said receiver Latrez Harrison who had four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. “We need to win a couple games.”

Maryland wasted little time in showing its dominance and scored on four straight drives for a 20-0 halftime lead.

Terps quarterback Scott McBrien, a West Virginia transfer, emerged from a lackluster early season to complete 14 of 25 passes for 220 yards with one touchdown and one interception against his former team.

McBrien, who ran 43 yards to set up a 17-0 lead in the second quarter that gave the Terps a seemingly insurmountable lead, was most impressive in the pocket finding alternate receivers for long gains. McBrien’s 25-yard strike to Harrison with 13:45 to play in the game was his first touchdown this season.

“I didn’t see [McBrien] patting his feet out there,” Friedgen said. “They’re quick decisions. … He seemed at ease out there.”

Said McBrien: “Last year was a breakout game for us and this year turned out to be the same way. … We just wanted to build on the momentum we had from The Citadel game.”

The Terps also ran effectively as Bruce Perry, Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado combined for 198 yards. Perry appears to be fully recovered from the high ankle sprain that sidelined him in two of the first three games. He gained 79 yards on 14 carries and had two touchdowns.

“He looked like the old Bruce,” Friedgen said. “I don’t have a problem with any of our three guys.”

Maryland hoped to confuse West Virginia’s stacked 3-5-3 defense by running early and the Mountaineers were often caught up the middle for long gains.

Defensively, tackle Randy Starks and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson shined as Maryland regularly stuffed West Virginia’s run and harassed Mountaineers quarterback Rasheed Marshall into a poor passing night. He was 2-for-7 for 25 yards and was replaced late in the third quarter.

“You could tell something wasn’t there [with West Virginia],” Jackson said.

Said Starks: “We’re pretty much clicking now.”

Maryland’s opening drive was undermined by two dropped passes by receiver JoJo Hunter, including one on third down at West Virginia’s 20. Kicker Nick Novak, who converted his first seven field goals this season, came up short on a 52-yarder and the game remained scoreless.

However, the Terps rebounded on the ensuing drive when Perry scored on a 4-yard run for a 7-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter. Maryland benefitted from two West Virginia penalties before Harrison’s 34-yard reception brought the ball to the Mountaineers’ 5.

Novak capped a 12-play drive with a 41-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage with 10:29 left in the first half. Maryland made it 17-0 with 2:23 remaining in the half on Allen’s 3-yard touchdown run. McBrien’s 43-yard run to the West Virginia 17 electrified the crowd. Novak added a 32-yarder with six seconds left for a 20-0 halftime lead.

Notes — Returner Steve Suter became Maryland’s career punt return leader with 922 yards. … Offensive tackle Ryan Flynn left in the second quarter with a sprained left knee. … Receiver Jafar Williams had a hand injury and didn’t play.

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