West Virginia throttles Maryland as Caleb Rowe throws four INTs

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — After each of his second-half interceptions Saturday, Caleb Rowe walked to the phone on the Maryland sideline, talked to his coaches in the coaching box and then stood on the sideline next to his teammates, watching the Terps defense. On the field, West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard was having the type of day Maryland envisioned Rowe having when they elevated him to the starting quarterback role nearly two weeks ago.

Howard carved up the Terps secondary all afternoon, marching the Mountaineers up and down the field, seemingly at will in the first half. He completed his short, underneath passes to his slot receivers who were finding the soft spots in the defense and was selective in his downfield shots. The junior threw his first career interception in the second quarter but rebounded to complete 64 percent of his passes.


Maryland couldn't get the same consistency out of the quarterback position in a 45-6 loss to West Virginia.

And by the end of the third quarter, Rowe was watching the Maryland offense on the field, too, after coach Randy Edsall put in backup Daxx Garman. Before an announced sellout of 61,167 at Milan Puskar Stadium for the latest iteration of a border rivalry set to go on hiatus, the Terps had absolutely no answer for the Mountaineers.


"We got to get everybody to do their job and to do their job well," Edsall said. "When we do that, we're good. But we're not consistent enough right now, and we got to get more consistent. And when something goes wrong, we got to have somebody step up and make a play and somebody to take over out there on the field. That's what we have to do. We've got to make our own breaks."

One week ago against South Florida, Rowe seemed to be ushering in a drastic change in the look of the Maryland (2-2) offense when he passed for almost 300 yards and threw four touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions against the Bulls, and his questionable decision making showed up once again against West Virginia (3-0). Rowe threw four interceptions — two in the end zone — and completed 10 of 27 passes for 67 yards.

Garman didn't fare much better in the final 15-plus minutes of action. He completed four of nine passes for 86 yards, a touchdown to freshman wide receiver Jahrvis Davenport and an interception on the game's final play.

Edsall said he considered inserting Garman after halftime, but, "we wanted to give Caleb another shot," Edsall said.

The staff will evaluate both quarterbacks' performances Sunday. However, when asked about Rowe being next week's starter, Edsall said, "I would think that he would be, yes."

Running back Brandon Ross gave a boost to a Maryland running game that had been mostly dormant the past two weeks by rushing 15 times for 130 yards in his second 100-yard performance of the year. He had a 36-yard run in the first quarter and a 55-yard scamper down the left sideline in the second quarter that seemed destined for a touchdown with the Terps trailing 35-0.

But West Virginia cornerback Terrell Chestnut ran across the field and tripped up Ross inside the 10-yard line. Ross lost control of the football and fumbled out the back of the end zone for a turnover and a touchback.

It was that kind of afternoon for Maryland, which suffered its worst loss since a 52-7 drubbing at Wisconsin last October.


Howard finished 21 of 33 for 294 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, by safety Anthony Nixon. Running back Wendell Smallwood rushed 22 times for 147 yards and a touchdown, leading a ground attack that ate up chunks of yardage. The Mountaineers rolled up 601 total yards, and it was nearly an even split between rushing (304) and passing (297).

"We just weren't executing," said outside linebacker Jalen Brooks, who finished with 10 tackles and a tackle for loss. "We got to have all 11 guys doing the best they can every single play. They got to do their assignment. We didn't have that. I doubt we even had one play where all 11 of us did the right thing. When that happens, you can't even keep it in the ballgame."

Saturday's matchup was an opportunity for Maryland to show it could compete with one of the nation's better teams while also asserting itself in a rivalry in which West Virginia has won nine of the past 10 matchups.

Instead, it was another blowout loss for Edsall. Six of Maryland's last eight defeats dating back to the beginning of last season have come by at least three touchdowns. And now, the Terps must turn toward Big Ten Conference play at .500 with an uphill climb toward bowl eligibility.

"It's very disappointing," right guard Andrew Zeller said. "They're not that much better than us. They're not what the scoreboard shows. We can compete with them. But we shot ourselves in the foot."