Terps Are Cooked in 15 Minutes

Steve Slaton
West Virginia's Steve Slaton breaks a tackle by Maryland's Marcus Wimbush to run all the way to the end zone for the Mountaineers' first touchdown of the game. (Joel Richardson - The Washington Post)
By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 15, 2006

MORGANTOWN W.Va., Sept. 14 -- Steve Slaton clearly announced his intentions earlier this week, saying that he would show the Maryland football program that it made a huge mistake when it pulled his scholarship offer.

On Thursday night, the West Virginia sophomore needed just 15 minutes to drive home the point he had waited more than a year to deliver: If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Slaton rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, including an electrifying 38-yard, reverse-field dash. Slaton turned a helpless Maryland defense into a captive audience in his revenge romp, finishing with 195 yards on 21 carries to lead No. 5 West Virginia to a 45-24 victory in front of 60,513 at a raucous Mountaineer Field.

"I used it as a lot of motivation," said Slaton, who came to West Virginia after being spurned by the Terrapins. "I feel like it's the first play all over again, I feel like I'm full of energy every play."

Slaton staked West Virginia to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, helped by a slew of Maryland miscues. Slaton, who didn't play in his team's 31-19 victory at Byrd Stadium last season, played late into the fourth quarter, with the game already out of reach.

"I hope he wins the Heisman," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said after watching the Terrapins (2-1) wilt under the spotlight of the lights and cameras.

The Terps came to Morgantown eyeing an upset that could potentially jump-start the program. Instead, they took an embarrassing loss that exposed a defense that at times was incapable of staying with the Mountaineers.

For the third straight game, the Terps' defense missed a bevy of open-field tackles, an unforgivable sin against a potent Mountaineers offense that took advantage by scoring on six of its first-half possessions to build a 38-10 halftime lead.

"We lost to a very good football team in a very tough environment on national television," Friedgen said. "It's embarrassing, but you've got to be able to come back from these things and get better."

Offensively, Maryland reverted to its sloppy ways of last season, turning over the ball four times in the first half alone. The Terps finished with five turnovers as quarterback Sam Hollenbach threw two interceptions and the Terps fumbled three times.

Two of the fumbles came on Maryland kickoff returns, and both led to West Virginia touchdowns.

"You can't beat real good teams like that, and they proved it," said Hollenbach, who finished 24 for 45 for 211 yards. "They took the turnovers, and they made us pay for them. You take those turnovers out of the game, and then you might have a different ballgame."

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