BALTIMORE - Ford Childress
may have made his first college start last Saturday against Georgia State, but he got his college football baptism today at M&T Bank Stadium against undefeated Maryland.
Two Childress interceptions and a Ronald Carswell
fumbled punt led to a 30-0 halftime deficit, and after that the Terps were content to run clock and hang onto the football in claiming a 37-0 win over the visiting Mountaineers.
"Give Maryland all the credit obviously. They whipped us on all three sides of the ball," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
Today’s victory snaps WVU’s seven-game winning streak in the series dating back to Maryland’s 41-7 blowout triumph in the 2004 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
This afternoon, just about everything that could go wrong for the 2-2 Mountaineers did, beginning with Carswell misplaying a first-quarter punt and fumbling the ball at the WVU 24. Three plays later, CJ Brown found Dave Stinebaugh for a 6-yard touchdown pass that was deflected right into his arms by WVU linebacker Jared Barber
Then, on the Mountaineers’ next offensive possession, Childress was baited into making a long sideline throw to Daikiel Shorts
that Terp safety AJ Hendy stepped in front of and returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
Another Childress interception – this one an athletic play by backup linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil when he jumped up at the line of scrimmage and tipped the ball to himself at the West Virginia 6 – led to Brown’s 1-yard sneak with 18 seconds left in the half.
In between, Brad Craddock kicked field goals of 50, 36 and 30 yards in a first half the Maryland defense completely owned.
The second half was played mostly in steady rain with both offenses having trouble hanging onto the football. Two Maryland fumbles in West Virginia territory, one by Brandon Ross at the 26, and another by Brown at the 33, were followed by two more West Virginia miscues.
had the football knocked out of his arms on a screen pass and Sean Davis recovered Sims’s fumble at the 20. Then, Wendell Smallwood
was stripped as he was running into the Maryland secondary, the play resulting in a 30-yard gainer after the football rolled all the way to the 11 where it was recovered by linebacker Matt Robinson.
Beyond the turnovers, Holgorsen was extremely disappointed that his team couldn't run the ball better to help out a young and inexperienced quarterback.
"We've committed a lot of practice time and a lot of schemes to running the football and when they have five in the box and we can't get a yard it's going to cause a problem," said Holgoren. "When you can't block it's tough. We put these guys into position to be able to block and we didn't."
After the Smallwood fumble, Maryland (4-0) responded with its best drive of the game, marching 89 yards on 12 plays, scoring a late touchdown when Ross punched it in from the 3. Ross’s TD was set up by a Brown-to-Deon Long, 29-yard pass down the near sideline.
A microcosm of West Virginia’s miserable afternoon was displayed on its final possession of the game, following Dreamius Smith
’s 51-yard run that moved the ball to the Terp 24. Two plays after that, Childress, under heavy pressure, tried to lateral the ball back to Sims, but it bounced off his chest and right into the arms of Hendy. It was only the 10th offensive play West Virginia ran on Maryland’s side of the field.
"Offensively we are as inept as we can possibly be in college football and I accept the responsibility for that," said Holgorsen.
The shutout loss was WVU’s first in 151 consecutive games dating back to a 35-0 defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech in Morgantown on Oct. 6, 2001.
And it was the first time since a 33-0 blanking in College Park that Maryland kept West Virginia off the scoreboard.
Brown completed 16-of-25 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown, and Ross finished the game with 67 yards and one score, but the story was Maryland’s smothering defense that limited West Virginia to just 175 total yards and only six first downs.
Smith ended the day with 74 yards on 12 carries, while Childress completed 11-of-22 passes for 62 yards. His only completion down field came with 3:06 remaining in the game when he hit Cody Clay
for an 11-yard gain.
West Virginia turned the ball over six times for the game.
"We're far from a suffocating defense but I do think we competed defensively," said Holgorsen.
Maryland, off to its best start since 2001 when Ralph Friedgen took the Terps to the Orange Bowl, will begin ACC play in two weeks at Florida State.
The challenge becomes much stiffer for West Virginia next week, playing host to 11th-ranked Oklahoma State at Milan Puskar Stadium in a noon game. Television coverage should be announced on Sunday.
"I told (the players) that they need to look in the mirror and that's what I'm going to do," said Holgorsen. "Obviously what I'm doing offensively is not working so we will do whatever we've got to do to fix it and we need everyone in that room to do the same thing - coaches and players."