- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Steve Slaton started to his left, didn’t find any lanes to his liking and decided to come back to the right side of the field.

A few textbook crackback blocks and moves normally reserved for a video game later, Slaton had scampered 37 yards in highlight-reel fashion and effectively ended any doubt for West Virginia last night in a 45-24 rout of Maryland. He had his second touchdown in the first quarter and was on his way to a 21-carry, 195-yard performance.

As Slaton neared the sideline, he came to almost a complete stop and then blew past Terrapins cornerback Isaiah Gardner before tiptoeing along the sideline and cutting back toward the middle of the field and reaching the end zone for a three-touchdown advantage.

“Everyone was really flowing toward our zone, so I thought I could catch them off guard and cut back on them,” Slaton said. “I was just using my God-given ability. I’ll use whatever I can use.”

Said Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez: “There were maybe four or five guys he ran around. It almost hurt us because he tried to do it a couple of other times. He’s still just a young guy. You have to be careful because you don’t want to limit his creativity, but there are times when he needs to just bang it in there.”

Slaton, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound blur with breakaway speed and shifty moves to match, became the focal point of this heated rivalry in the days leading up to the game when he made no mistake about his desire to make the Terrapins regret rescinding a scholarship offer.

It didn’t take him long to prove his point.

After ripping off runs of 9 and 8 yards with little effort, Slaton ran through a futile Marcus Wimbush arm tackle and raced 38 yards for the game’s opening score.

“He’s out there juking and jiving,” center Dan Mozes said. “Sometimes he almost looks like a made-up player. We stayed with our blocks, but he is just making things happen.”

Said quarterback Pat White: “That was Steve being Steve. When the ball is in his hands, anything can happen.”

Slaton, a sophomore from Levittown, Pa., finished the first quarter with 149 yards on only eight carries. He said earlier in the week he wanted to produce a touchdown every time he touched the ball, and he did nearly score on consecutive touches.

Three plays after the highlight-reel run, West Virginia linebacker Jay Henry intercepted Sam Hollenbach at the Mountaineers 46. Slaton took a handoff with his line moving toward the left, but Slaton decided to cut into the middle of the defense and bolted to the Maryland 2 before being forced out of bounds on the right side of the field.

Even when Slaton fumbled on the next play, West Virginia’s Brad Palmer was there to fall on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Since becoming the starter in the Mountaineers’ sixth game last season against Rutgers, Slaton has now topped the 100-yard mark eight times in 10 starts. He is averaging 149.9 yards in those 10 starts.

“I think he was pretty excited,” Rodriguez said of the matchup with Maryland. “He didn’t practice much because of [an ankle injury], but it would have taken a pretty bad injury to keep him out of this game.”

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