West Virginia, a 12-point underdog, jumped to a 24-point first-half lead and then held off a furious Maryland rally to upset the Terrapins, 24-16, yesterday before 45,123 fans at Byrd Stadium.
While the Terps' 15-game regular season win streak came to a halt, at the end they were the ones going for the jugular, scratching frantically to the Mountaineers' five with 3:05 left thanks to a 56-yard punt return by Vince Kinney.
But running the abll four times against a determined West Virginia defense, the 10th-ranked Terps could get no closer than the two, their final bid stopped when quarterback Larry Dick was slammed to the turf on a fourth-down option-keeper.
Still, the Terps got the ball back one more time following a West Virginia punt, with Dick passing them inside the West Virginia 20 with time running out. But a desperation pass by Dick to Chuck White in the end zone fell incomplete as the game ended.
It was a frustrating finish for the Terps, who appeared out of the game as the Mountaineers, now 2-0, cashed in on four Maryland fumbles and two interceptions to build its huge lead.
The Terps, however, came back with two-point conversion. When Mountaineer punter Kenny Hatton fell on a bad snap in the end zone for a safety, the Terps were in striking distance, 24-16 for a tie. That's when Kinney, who played a brilliant game, took over, returning the free kick to the West Virginia five as the stadium rocked.
Mountaineer flanker Cederic Thomas, who burned Maryland's secondary with a 54-yard touchdown catch for a 21-0 cushion, said, "We have the type of team this year that is not afraid to go up against anyone, including the Redskins. We have a powerhouse. We knew all the time we could beat Maryland."
West Virginia quarterback Dan against a Maryland defense that seemed dazed.
Maryland's offense, meanwhile, moved well between the 20s but sputtered near the goal. Maryland finished with more first downs (23-19), more yards total offense (369-358) and more yards passing (234-160).
But mistakes were the theme of this upset, the biggest in coach Jerry Claiborne's six-year reign.
WVU's first scoring drive started with a Maryland fumble. Chris Ward mishandled a WVU punt and James Tackett recovered for the Mountaineers on the Terps' 31. The short drive was hastened by Kendra passes of 14 and 11 yards before tailback Dave Riley scored from the two-yard line.
The Terps managed a first down before giving the ball back to the hot Mountainers, who scored again when Riley shot through a hole at the line of scrimmage and sped 54 yards for his second touchdown in six minutes, making it 14-0 with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
Maryland embarked on an olderly enough march from its 21-yard line, but then on third and five at West Virginia's 10-yard line, Dick faked a handoff, stepped back to pass, got in traffic, spun around and was sacked - the ball flying loose. Bob Tomko recovered for the Mountaineers.
Again Maryland gave up the ball, this time on an interception that bounced off intended receiver White and several other people before landing in the hands of WVU's Jeff Macerelli.
Then, faster than you could say "Who wants to play Penn State?" Kendra got a third score on the board, ona 54-yard pass to Thomas that sailed 40-yards in the air. Thomas was wide open the left sideline.
"It was a play-fake to the line," said Thomas, "and the cornerback collapsed and that left me wide open."
Maryland safety Jonathan Claiborne blamed himself for the score, which he called the turning point in the game.
"It was just my fault completely. I blew the coverage," said Claiborne. "I just blew it.I should have played deeper.
"I personally think that score was the key. If it has just been 14-0, we might have come back right away. But 21-0 . . ."
From that point, it was clearly all up-hill. Maryland had not trailed by 21-points in a regular-season game in more than two years.
Later in the first half, Maryland recovered a fumble at the WVU 35. But a play later, tailback Steve Atkins fumbled it right back, and West Virginia responded with a scoring drive that was aided by a facemask penalty, a rough-the-kicker penalty and a spearing call.
The march ended with a 49-yard field goal by Bill McKenzie, longest of his career and longest in the school's history. Mercifully for Maryland, it was the final play of the half.
Maryland challenged in the second half, scoring on its first drive, which included 30 yards of W. V.U. penalties. Atkins, who rushed for 87 yards on the day, swept left four yards and followed a block by Dick to make it 24-6. A conversion attempt failed when Dick was rushed and threw incomplete.
The Mountaineers seemed to show signs of cracking, fumbling on their next drive at the WVU 38. Tackle Charlie johnson-recovered for Maryland.
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] 34, Dick found tight end Eric Sievers open in the flat, and sievers broke a tackle to extend the play to 29 yards. That made it first and goal at the five, where wingback Dean Richards took a pitch from Dick and ran around left end for a touchdown. The Terps got [TEXT OMMITTED FROM SOURCE]