COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland stared adversity in the face yesterday, and the Terps blinked. And folded.
Final score: West Virginia 37, Maryland 7 before 40,442 at Byrd Stadium.
The Terps (1-2) came into the game with a lot of injuries. They were missing starting cornerback Scott Rosen (hamstring) and top reserve defensive tackle Darren Drozdov. Also, starting senior quarterback Jim Sandwisch did not start because of a sore elbow and shoulder on his right throwing arm.
But injuries could not be used for an excuse yesterday. West Virginia (3-1) hit Maryland where it hurt, ripping apart the Terps' once-proud defense (turnover ratio of 4-to-1) for 334 rushing and 373 yards of total offense. The Mountaineers thrashed the Terps thoroughly and quickly, scoring 28 points in the first 19 minutes.
Maryland couldn't stop West Virginia's option offense or quarterback Darren Studstill, and the Terps made Mountaineers junior running back Adrian Murrell look like a Heisman Trophy candidate (141 yards rushing on 20 carries; 93 yards rushing with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first quarter).
"We couldn't stop their trap, we couldn't stop their belly option, we couldn't stop their sprint draw, we couldn't stop anything," Maryland coach Joe Krivak said.
"It wasn't a very good performance," Krivak said of the team's worst home loss since 1970. "I apologize to our fans, I apologize to everybody. I'm embarrassed, I really am. This was one of the poorest games played here at the University of Maryland in a long time.
"We didn't have any intensity. We weren't prepared. We didn't tackle very well, we didn't block very well. We didn't do too many things well. That's my responsibility because I'm the head coach."
Krivak, who doesn't like to publicly stress the importance of any game, seemed to know this was a big one.
Krivak showed his desperation by pulling junior starting quarterback John Kaleo with 14:02 left in the second quarter and replacing him with the injured Sandwisch. Krivak also played true freshman Larry Washington, a halfback from Randallstown High.
Kaleo played only three series, completing one of three passes for 35 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Richie Harris on the Terps' first possession.
Sandwisch was just as ineffective, completing 11 of 19 for 71 yards. Maryland had only 207 yards of total offense.
"We missed a couple of signals, and then one time we were third-and-eight, and he overthrew the [receiver], and that's when I decided to change," Krivak said of Kaleo. "It was my decision. But the way we got ripped, it wasn't the kind of game where a couple of plays make the difference. We played lousy."
Maryland's frustrations may not end with yesterday's game. This was the third straight home game for the Terps, who are idle this week. But then Maryland must face No. 20 Pittsburgh and No. 17 Georgia Tech on the road before closing with Penn State, Clemson and North Carolina State.
And this was not a great West Virginia team. The Mountaineers were blown out by Pittsburgh, 34-3, and barely beat Bowling Green, 24-17.
Get the picture? Maryland will be hard-pressed to have a winning season.
"West Virginia is a lot better than they look on film," said Maryland defensive tackle Lubo Zizakovic. "We've got some nationally ranked teams on our schedule, ones that are better than West Virginia, including Pitt, who whipped them. In two weeks, we're going to find out a lot about the University of Maryland football team."
Sandwisch said: "We're going to have to get focused on our goals again. We played very hard against Syracuse and lost, and some guys are having a tough time getting over that. It all starts again for us Monday, because I heard a lot of guys bitching out there. We've got to get it together in two weeks."
It started out so well for the Terps. Maryland scored on its first possession, going 62 yards in eight plays, as the Terps took a 7-0 lead with 9:38 left in the first quarter on a pass from Kaleo to Harris.
"After that, it was like the men against the boys," said Maryland inside linebacker Mike Jarmolowich. "We just didn't have it. They came right back and smacked us in the face."
Not just once, but twice. Murrell led a nine-play, 72-yard touchdown drive with a 44-yard run to the Maryland 28 on the Mountaineers' next possession. Studstill also delivered big plays the drive. He ran for 11 yards after being forced out of the pocket on fourth-and-10 at the Maryland 28, then threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Murrell in the left corner of the end zone with 6:15 left in the first period as he caught Maryland on a linebacker blitz.
West Virginia then came back with another 72-yard, seven-play drive on its next possession. Murrell again delivered the big blows, running for 12, 4 and 30 yards. The Mountaineers scored with 2:13 left in the first period on a 3-yard run around left end by Studstill. That made it 14-7.
That's when Krivak pulled Kaleo for Sandwisch.
"Coach Eisaman [quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Jerry Eisaman] had just told me on the phone I was going back in," said Kaleo. "I started to go out on the field and then they called me back. I had no idea. One minute I'm running in, the next I'm out in the showers."
Sandwisch had about as much success as Kaleo, taking Maryland only 37 yards in its next two series.
West Virginia then went on another scoring drive, as fullback Rodney Woodard ran 6 yards up the middle untouched for a touchdown to finish a 12-play, 63-yard scoring drive that gave hTC West Virginia a 21-7 lead with 4:27 left in the half.
Maryland seemed to have the drive stopped twice, but the Terps were hurt by penalties, both on Zizakovic. On fourth-and-one at the Maryland 21, Zizakovic sacked Studstill for a 9-yard loss, but he was called for grabbing a face mask, giving West Virginia a first down at the Maryland 16. West Virginia got only 5 yards in the next three plays, but Zizakovic was called for offsides on West Virginia's 28-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-five at the 11. Woodard scored on the next play.
"It's hard to explain how I felt on the field and on the sidelines," said Zizakovic. "But just excuse the profanities."
West Virginia had 229 yards rushing in the first half, to 99 yards of total offense for Maryland. The Terps advanced into West Virginia territory only once in the first two quarters.
The Terps continued their offensive inconsistency into the third quarter, as halfback Mark Mason fumbled on the first play after the kickoff, giving West Virginia possession at the Maryland 31. It would be the first of three turnovers in the half that led to 16 West Virginia points.
Ten plays and three third-down conversions later, Murrell took a pitch left for a 1-yard touchdown.
West Virginia's final touchdown was set up by David Mayfield's 59-yard interception return of a Tony Scarpino pass to the Maryland 2. Running back Jim Freeman scored from a yard out two plays later with 3:15 left in the game.