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Mountaineers 're-spond' against Terrapins

September 19, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University football team was in a "re-" running mode on Saturday.

The Mountaineers had a little re-venge on their minds, but it was more a case of re-taining a No. 7 ranking while getting some re-spect along the way.

WVU got it all on Saturday against No. 21 Maryland before a sellout home crowd at Mountaineer Field. Now, after a 19-16 overtime victory, it's a matter if the Mountaineers can re-use it all to make big things happen in the 2004 season.

"It was a big win because (Maryland's) ranked and they're a great program," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We haven't arrived yet by any stretch of the imagination, but we're getting better."


There was an air of re-demption for the Mountaineers, who had lost four straight times to Maryland in the last three seasons, all by lopsided scores. The Terps had their way with WVU by shutting down the Mountaineers' running game and forcing quarterback Rasheed Marshall to shoulder the burden of carrying the offense.

Saturday, WVU's ground attack - behind Kay-Jay Harris and Jason Colson - rolled up 220 yards. And while Marshall didn't have a great game with his statistics, he still connected with receiver Chris Henry on a 7-yard scoring pass in the overtime period to counteract Maryland's go-ahead field goal and win the game.

"It feels good to play good against them," Rodriguez said. "It was nice for the fans to be rewarded at the end. They were huge for us in some plays in this game."

WVU had its struggles against Maryland and only had a 7-3 halftime lead. Penalties and sacks killed four of the Mountaineers' first five drives. The only one they cashed in came on a 6-yard run by Harris after defensive back Adam "Pac Man" Jones made the first of his two interceptions of Maryland quarterback Joel Statham.

"Offensively, we moved well. We just didn't finish drives well at all today," Rodriguez said "We got a few turnovers from them which helped. Our defense did a great job keeping the offense in the game."

WVU came up with five turnovers - three interceptions and two fumbles - to keep Maryland scrambling for points. Four of the turnovers came in the first half.

Maryland worked to take a 13-10 lead in the second half before Brad Cooper hit a 37-yard field goal with 6:20 remaining to tie the game. Maryland's Nick Novak missed a 49-yard kick with 1:15 remaining and Cooper got two tries - a miss called back on a Maryland penalty followed by a blocked 39-yard attempt in the final five seconds - to force the overtime.

After Maryland grabbed the 16-13 lead, Marshall led WVU to the winning score. First he scrambled for a pair of short gains to influence the Terps' defense, then he hit Henry for the winning score.

It started when Marshall faked the handoff to Harris and ran to the right side for a quick 5-yard gain.

"We had been running that play the whole game," Marshall said. "The linebackers came crashing in on Kay-Jay and it opened me up."

Four plays later, Marshall audibled in WVU's no-huddle set and caught Henry on an inside slant across the middle to get the winning score.

"It all kind of happened so fast and everything just clicked," Marshall said.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said he didn't think that Henry was Marshall's primary receiver.

"We were in zero coverage with our linebackers blitzing," Friedgen said. "Their quarterback looked left first and ended up going to the right."

It was a major play for WVU, though, which was tested stiffly by Maryland.

"I kept telling the guys that they had to believe," Marshall said. "After the field goal, a bunch of them were sitting there like we got beat. I said 'We are going to get the ball back. If you aren't going to visualize it, it's not going to happen.'"

Henry's catch ignited a huge celebration for the Mountaineers, but Rodriguez still warned that WVU has a lot of business to take care of before any real celebrations can take effect.

"I knew that we had blown some opportunities. I knew it was going to come down to the fourth quarter, but I didn't think it would take overtime," Rodriguez said. "The more you win, the more is at stake as the season goes on. It all comes down to how you handle it."

On this day, it was a re-sounding success for the Mountaineers.

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