September 14, 2006

West Virginia turns Maryland test into a joke

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -Steve Slaton's speed and Maryland's sloppiness turned No. 5 West Virginia's first anticipated test of the season into a laugher.

Slaton rushed for 195 yards and the Mountaineers forced two turnovers in a 28-0 first-quarter blitz on the way to a 45-24 victory over the Terrapins on Thursday night.

Slaton, a sophomore, scored twice in the opening quarter of his first career action against Maryland, the school that offered him a scholarship, then withdrew it.

Pat White threw for a TD and ran for another while Darius Reynaud scored twice, including a 96-yard kickoff return, for the Mountaineers (3-0), who extended their winning streak to 10 games, second in the nation to TCU's 12 in a row.

With scouts from the Orange and Fiesta bowls and 15 NFL teams in attendance, West Virginia took a 38-10 halftime lead in beating Maryland (2-1) for the third straight year, the first time that has happened since 1996-98. The teams have met every year since 1980.

Maryland, which had wins over Division I-AA William & Mary and unheralded Middle Tennessee State, watched the Mountaineers compile more than 300 yards rushing for the third straight game.

West Virginia's young defense, pressed to force more turnovers, also delivered, finishing with five takeaways. Maryland's Sam Hollenbach was intercepted twice and the Terrapins fumbled the ball away three times, twice by Josh Wilson on kickoffs.

West Virginia has outscored opponents 139-37 in three home games and heads on the road for four of its next five games.

Slaton has 503 yards this season, exceeding 100 yards in the first half in all three games.

He had 149 yards in the first quarter against Maryland when West Virginia scored on all four possessions.

Slaton had early TD runs of 38 and 37 yards. A fumble recovery on a kickoff set up Reynaud's 5-yard scoring catch from White, who also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.

Jay Henry's interception set up West Virginia's fourth touchdown.

Slaton ran 52 yards to the Maryland 2. He fumbled on the next play, but tight end Brad Palmer pounced on the rolling ball just before it went out of the end zone for his first career touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

Maryland had never previously allowed that many points in a quarter under sixth-year coach Ralph Friedgen.

Maryland drove 80 yards to start the second quarter with Hollenbach throwing a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Joey Haynos in blown coverage. It was the first TD allowed by the Mountaineers in eight quarters.

After the teams traded field goals, Reynaud picked up his own fumble at the 4-yard line in the final minute of the half, took off up the middle and scored West Virginia's first kickoff return for a touchdown in 31 games.

Lance Ball's 11-yard TD run early in the third quarter pulled Maryland within 38-17, but the Terrapins got no closer.

For more coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers, check out WVUSports.com; for more coverage of the Maryland Terrapins, check out TerrapinTimes.com.




 

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