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WVU gets its 'W' from team

September 18, 2005|By MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md.

The West Virginia offense grew up a little Saturday afternoon in Byrd Stadium. And they did so as a group.

The Mountaineers rolled up 387 yards - more than 300 on the ground - in their 31-19 victory over Maryland, but trying to pick out one guy who did more than another ... well, that's tough to do.

Six different West Virginia backs ran for at least 38 yards and the Mountaineers went from one quarterback to the other and back again without missing a beat.

Talk about your team efforts.

"We have a lot of depth at a lot of positions and we're young on the offensive side of the ball," quarterback Adam Bednarik said. "I think it shows that we've been working hard and working together."

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Bednarik got the start under center Saturday, but split time with Pat White until leaving the game for good in the third quarter with an injury and the Mountaineers holding a precarious 7-6 lead.

"It's good to have two quarterbacks," WVU coach Rich Rodriguez said. "(Bednarik) could have come back in the end, but he wasn't 100 percent. When Pat goes in there, it's just like he's been there the whole time."

White picked right up for Bednarik, leading West Virginia on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that Owen Schmitt capped with a 3-yard touchdown run to put WVU ahead 14-6 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.

"I knew that I was going to have to come in and step up," said White, who rushed for 62 yards. "I was just trying to set up my teammates."

That included Schmitt, who had 7 yards on three carries in West Virginia's first two games of the season. He finished Saturday's game as the Mountaineers' leading rusher, carrying six times for 80 yards and the touchdown, his first collegiate score.

His celebration was more Jim Valvano than Terrell Owens.

"I knew I was in, I was just looking for all the big guys to hug because they're the guys that did it for me," Schmitt said. "I couldn't believe it happened, I'm really glad it did. It was fun."

It also was fun for Rodriguez, who was all smiles as he received high-fives from coaches and players after the game. It was West Virginia's second straight win over the Terrapins, but this one was much more convincing than last year's 19-16 overtime victory in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers also may have answered some questions about the strength of their team following a bumpy season-opening win over Syracuse and a relative 'gimme' game against Division I-AA Wofford.

"It was a hard-played game on both sides. I'm really proud of the way we ran the football," Rodriguez said. "To run for close to 300 yards on Maryland is a tough feat. Not many people come into their place and do that."

The 2005 Terrapins are not among the elite in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so some still might question the validity of the Mountaineers' 3-0 record.

But if the Mountaineers keep running the way they did Saturday, with ball carriers coming from every direction, they could be more of a factor this season than many thought they would.

"We have to run the ball. First, because it controls the clock a little bit and keeps our offense on the field," Rodriguez said. "Second, because I think that's what we do well. The key for us is having different runs so they don't load up the box."

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