Invading the House
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
September 17, 2005
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Maryland could not protect its house. West Virginia exploded for 24 fourth-quarter points to down the Terps 31-19 Saturday afternoon at College Park. Maryland came into the game having won 23 of 27 games at home under fifth-year coach Ralph Friedgen, now well known for his Under Armour commercial commanding his players to 'protect their house.'
For the second straight week a vistor came into College Park and won a football game against the Terps. Last week it was the passing of Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst; this week it was West Virginia going to the ground to churn out 301 yards against a Maryland defense known for its ability to stop the run. In fact, WVU’s ground game was so effective that WVU quarterbacks Adam Bednarik and Pat White finished the game attempting just 11 passes, completing eight for 86 yards.
"To run for 300 yards against Maryland ... not many people come to their place and do that," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. "I'm really proud of our backs, our receivers, and especially our offensive line."
Fullback Owen Schmitt was WVU’s most effective second-half weapon, gaining a career-high 80 yards on just six carries. White rushed for 62 yards on nine tries and true freshman Jason Gwaltney was unstoppable in the red zone, crossing the goal line twice and finishing the game with 44 yards on 12 carries.
"I thought it was a hard-played game on both sides," said Rodriguez. "Both teams battled to the end. I'm really proud of the way our guys hung in there. We kind of let them back in the game in the fourth quarter."
The two halves were complete opposites. In the first half, neither team could move the ball and West Virginia’s inability to advance the chains put its defense in a bind for most of the half. The Terps began three drives on the West Virginia side of the 50 and only managed three points when Dan Ennis converted a 33-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining.
West Virginia’s only offensive success in the first half came as the result of a 48-yard hookup from Adam Bednarik to Brandon Myles on a third and 10 play at the WVU three.
A pair of Pernell Williams runs and a 13-yard gain by Schmitt moved the football to the Maryland 27. Bednarik was able to get a first down on third and four from the 21 and tacked on nine more to the Terp eight. Gwaltney finished the 15-play drive with a third-down dive over the pile from the one. Fourteen of the drive’s 15 plays came on the ground.
West Virginia’s offense was stymied by several procedure and holding penalties that made up most of the Mountaineers’ eight first-half infractions.
Maryland’s offensive problems were the result of its inability to run the football. The Terps tried 16 runs for a net of 38 yards. Maryland’s best offensive play of the first half was a 27-yard Sam Hollenbach to Danny Melendez hookup to the West Virginia 22. That led to Ennis’ field goal right before the end of the half.
Instead of looking for more points, Rodriguez chose to run out the clock and go into the locker room with a 7-3 halftime lead.
After an exchange of possessions to begin the third quarter, a Vaughn Rivers 17-yard punt return set up West Virginia nicely at the Maryland 43. But the Mountaineers tried two running plays that gained just four yards and on third and seven Bednarik was sacked for a loss of four back to the 43. Bednarik’s pooch punt was deflected by David Holloway and netted just five yards.
Hollenbach was able to hit tight end Vernon Davis down the seam for 24 yards to the West Virginia 39. On fourth and six at the WVU 35, Hollenbach hooked up with Jo Jo Walker for 10 to the Mountaineer 25. A short pass and a short run gave Maryland a third and five at the WVU 20. Attempting to pass, Hollenbach was flushed from the pocket and pulled down two yards short of the sticks by Mike Lorello.
Ennis made his second field goal from 34 yards to pull Maryland to within one, 7-6.
West Virginia answered the Ennis FG with two impressive drives that resulted in touchdowns, both with backup QB Pat White under center. White re-entered the game when a scrambling Bednarik was knocked out by teammate Jeremy Sheffey on a nine-yard run.
A key play in the drive came at the West Virginia 42 when Maryland’s Conrad Bolston was whistled for offsides on a fourth and one punt. The Mountaineers were able to make the Terps pay for it. A reverse to Darius Reynaud netted 27 yards to the Maryland 31. Then a White-to-Colson pass out of the backfield moved the ball 17 yards to the Maryland 15. On third and five, White hit Rivers for seven yards to the Maryland three. Schmitt finished the drive with a three-yard run off tackle.
The Mountaineers second TD drive was all on the shoulders of Schmitt, who ran 19 yards on first down and later carried 34 yards to the Maryland two. Williams was able to cross the goal line from a yard away to give West Virginia a 21-6 lead.
At that point Maryland came to life.
Hollenbach located Davis open in the secondary and the athletic tight end followed a convoy of blockers down the sideline for a 73-yard touchdown. Maryland got the ball right back when Antonio Lewis fumbled his kickoff return and the Terps recovered the ball at the West Virginia 27. Once again, Hollenbach put the ball in the air hitting Derek Fenner for seven yards on third and three. The Maryland QB then went to the nearside for 12 yards to Jo Jo Walker for a touchdown to pull Maryland to within two, 21-19.
Maryland’s two-point conversion try failed when Hollenbach’s pass sailed high of his intended target.
"We relaxed a little bit with 10 minutes to go," Rodriguez said. "When we got a little bit of a lead I think our guys started celebrating a little bit on the sidelines. Thankfully it was a lesson learned."
West Virginia responded with a back-breaking 73-yard drive -- all on the ground. Reynaud ran for 11 on a reverse and White called his own number for 33 yards to the Maryland 29. On third and seven at the Maryland 15, Jason Gwaltney rode a pair of Garin Justice blocks into the secondary and the freshman carried two Maryland tacklers into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
West Virginia turned back another Maryland drive when Eric Wicks separated Hollenbach from the football on his scramble up the far sideline, and Jay Henry scooped up the ball and returned it to the Maryland 28. WVU worked the clock and tacked on three more when McAfee nailed a 40-yard field goal with 2:18 remaining.
After a tough start, Hollenbach finished the afternoon completing 20 of 21 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Davis led all receivers with five catches for 158 yards and two scores.
Maryland's running attack managed just 50 yards on 29 tries.
"This is a disappointing loss," said Maryland's Fridegen, now 4-2 against the Mountaineers. "We didn't play with enthusiasm that I'd hope we'd play with. I don't know exactly what the reason is and who should take responsiblity for that."
The victory was West Virginia’s first at College Park since 1997 and only the second in the last six tries against the Terps since 2001.
"I think too much was made of last year and the so-called hex they had on us," Rodriguez said. "We just needed to play better. I don't think we played a perfect game ... we made mistakes and they made mistakes. The first half, I think we had an offensive penalty on every possession.
"Once we quit committing penalties we started moving the ball toward the end of the game and had some big drives and used up a little bit of the clock."
The Mountaineers (3-0) put their undefeated record on the line next Saturday when West Virginia plays host to East Carolina in a noon game at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Maryland falls to 1-2.
WV – Gwaltney 1 run (McAfee kick)
Rushing: WV -- Schmitt 6-80, White 9-62, Williams 16-46, Gwaltney 12-44, Reynaud 2-38, Bednarik 9-31, Bruce 1-9, Colson 4-7, Total 64-301; MD -- Merrills 9-35, Walker 2-11, Ball 7-5, Hollenbach 10-2, Lattimore 1-minus 3, Total 29-50.
Passing: WV -- Bednarik 5-6-0-57-0, White 3-5-0-29-0, Total 8-11-0-86-0; MD -- Hollenbach 20-31-0-291-2, Total 20-31-0-291-2.
Receiving: WV -- Myles 3-52, Colson 2-22, Rivers 2-8, Williams 1-4, Total 8-86; MD -- Fenner 6-48, Davis 5-158, Walker 5-48, Melendez 2-32, Goode 1-4, Ball 1-1, Total 20-291.
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