West Virginia holds off Maryland

Geno Smith passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns -- all to Tavon Austin -- on 30-of-43 efficiency, as the eighth- ranked West Virginia Mountaineers topped the Maryland Terrapins, 31-21, at Puskar Stadium.

Austin led all receivers with 179 yards on 13 receptions for the Mountaineers (3-0), who showed no signs of slowing down after a 30-point win over James Madison last week.

"This was Tavon's best game," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "He played fast. His energy on the sidelines was tremendous and he was the one guy we had offensively who played his best game."

Perry Hills also totaled three TD passes, including a pair to Stefon Diggs, to back a 20-completion, 305-yard performance for the Terrapins (2-2), who have lost two in a row. The true freshman was sacked five times, lost a fumble which was returned for a touchdown, and was also intercepted once.

"When you get around Perry, and you see his demeanor and his competiveness and his heart and his passion and his ability to be a team guy, you just know a guy like that is going to rebound from some setbacks," said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. "That is the thing -- he is a tough guy."

Diggs ended with 113 yards on three catches, and Marcus Leak contributed a touchdown grab in defeat.

A defensively-oriented third quarter produced no points, but West Virginia struck early in the fourth as Smith and Austin combined one final time, this one a 34-yard score and 31-14 contest. The Mountaineers began on their own 33- yard line after Terence Garvin recovered a Leak fumble.

Maryland, though, responded in just two plays, the latter a 56-yard pass from Hills to Diggs that pulled the visitors within 10 again and 7:25 left in regulation.

But Hills was picked off by Wes Tonkery inside WVU territory with just over 4 1/2 remaining, and the Mountaineers were able to kill off the rest of the clock on an eight-play drive helped by a roughing-the-passer call on the Terps.

West Virginia got on the board midway through the first quarter when Hills coughed up the ball while being sacked and Doug Rigg raced 51 yards the other way for the game's opening score.

It was 14-0 for the hosts on a 44-yard connection between Smith and Austin, but Maryland responded with a 42-yard catch-and-run from Diggs with less than two minutes to play in the first quarter.

Leak then hauled in a 12-yard pass from Hills and the Terps drew even early in the second quarter.

"Everything we did out there seemed hard," Holgorsen added. "Maybe that's because we were spoiled these last three games having the success that we have had. One of the things you have to do when you face adversity is have guys fight through that, and we did. Otherwise we'd be sitting here with a loss."

Tyler Bitancourt connected from 37 yards out on the hosts ensuing series to make it a 17-14 contest, then Smith found a wide-open Austin in the end zone for a 24-yard strike and 24-14 game at the half.

Game Notes

Austin became the school's all-time leading receiver with 208 receptions, moving two ahead of Jock Sanders' previous mark set from 2007-10 ... West Virginia has won the last seven meetings over Maryland, and leads then all-time series 26-21-2 ... The Mountaineers claimed a slight edge in first downs (19-18) and total offense (363-351) ... The Terrapins defense held WVU to 25 yards rushing ... Leak finished with 69 yards on five catches ... West Virginia hosts Baylor in its inaugural Big 12 matchup next Saturday, while Maryland is off until an Oct. 6 meeting with Wake Forest.