(Saturday, September 18th)
Final Score: (21) West Virginia 31, Maryland 17
Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - Geno Smith threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns, as 21st-ranked West Virginia handled Maryland, 31-17, at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Smith completed 19-of-29 passes while Tavon Austin pulled in seven catches for 106 yards and two scores for West Virginia (3-0), which was coming off a dramatic 24-21 overtime win over instate rival Marshall last Friday. It handled Coastal Carolina, 31-0, in the season opener.
Stedman Bailey added four grabs for 60 yards and a pair of scores while Jock Sanders had six receptions for 86 yards and set up a touchdown with a 66-yard punt return. Noel Devine led the ground attack with 131 yards on 27 touches.
Jamarr Robinson completed 13-of-24 pass attempts for 227 yards and two touchdowns for Maryland (2-1), which earned a 62-3 victory over Morgan State last weekend. The Terrapins opened the season with a narrow 17-14 decision over Navy. Torrey Smith had three grabs for 149 yards and a pair of TDs.
"West Virginia just played better than we did," Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said. "They are a good football team. They played a lot better than us in the first half and that's my fault. Crowd noise was a factor, but once we adapted to that, we came back and fought hard in the second half."
West Virginia put up the first points on its opening drive, going 77 yards on seven plays. The Mountaineers converted a key 3rd-and-14 when Geno Smith hit Austin for a 15-yard gain before Devine galloped for 50 yards down the far sideline to the Maryland 16. Three plays later, Smith found Austin in the back corner of the end zone for the six-yard score.
Maryland was forced to punt out of the shadow of its own end zone on its first offensive try and the Mountaineers turned it into another seven points. The Terps needed only five plays to go 51 yards and a Geno Smith-to-Austin five- yard connection made it a 14-0 contest.
Geno Smith's 26-yard hookup with Bailey in the early stages of the second quarter finished off a seven-play, 62-yard drive. The score was briefly reviewed, but upheld after it was ruled Bailey got a foot inbounds.
It remained a 21-0 game heading into the break.
However, early in the third, Sanders put WVU in outstanding position with a 66-yard punt return to the Maryland eight, and three plays later Geno Smith spotted Bailey for a five-yard TD. Again, the play was reviewed but upheld.
The Terps answered on their next possession when Robinson hit Torrey Smith for a 60-yard catch and run that got the visitors on the board, 28-7. Later in the frame, Robinson's 80-yard strike to Torrey Smith made it a two-touchdown game with 4:07 left in the third.
"I was not pleased with closing the door," said West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart. "You don't let them get back in - they worked hard and got back in. A couple of big passes disappointed me and we need to work hard on that."
Travis Baltz's 35-yard field goal with just under 12 minutes to play drew UM within 28-17. However, West Virginia countered with a lengthy 8:55 drive that culminated in a 23-yard chip shot by Tyler Bitancurt with 3:07 remaining.
A swarming Mountaineers' defense slammed the door on Maryland's next series, forcing a turnover on downs, and WVU took a knee to run out the clock.
West Virginia will visit LSU next Saturday, while Maryland will host Florida International... WVU holds a 24-21-2 edge over Maryland and has now won five straight in the head-to-head series...West Virginia compiled 469 total yards of offense compared to only 217 for the Terps...Bruce Irvin registered three of WVU's eight sacks.
09/18 18:11:38 ET