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Slaton runs wild in WVU's runaway rout

September 15, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Steve Slaton showed the University of Maryland what it was missing.

In fact, the Terrapins defense continued to miss the West Virginia University tailback for an entire game on Thursday.

Slaton, who was bypassed as a recruit by the Terps, might not have set out to exact revenge against Maryland and coach Ralph Friedgen, but it worked out that way in WVU's 45-24 victory on Thursday before a national audience at Mountaineer Field.

"Our speed was evident early, but not late," WVU coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We didn't execute late. Steve made some big runs for us, obviously."

The sophomore rushed for 195 yards and two first-quarter touchdowns to ignite the Mountaineers' bull rush to the win.

Slaton and the Mountaineers exploited what was supposed to be the strength of Maryland's defense. The Terps changed to a 3-4 to put more pressure on the line of scrimmage against runs.

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The idea was to get more players up near the line of scrimmage to stop opponents' running games. It didn't work.

Slaton highlighted WVU's ability to get to the edge of Maryland's defense with 180 of his rushing yards coming on sweeping plays. In fact, Slaton scored on runs of 38 and 37 yards and added a 52-yard run to set up the fourth score of the first quarter, all on wide runs that went against the grain of Maryland's defense and beat the Terps to the corners.

As a team, WVU ran for 196 of its 340 rushing yards on wide, speed plays, while the passing game accounted for 40 of its 43 net passing yards on swing plays to keep the Terps from pursuing the ball.

"We might have thrown the ball more if they were within a score or two," Rodriguez said. "We felt comfortable with the runs. (Quarterback Pat White) had a couple of quarterback zone runs for big plays. That's almost like a pass to us."

From there, WVU's defense just had to control Maryland's offense, keeping the Terps in front of it to keep from any quick scores.

It worked.

"The defense played OK," Rodriguez said. "It made them earn yards."

WVU added the insult to the injured Terps, turning five turnovers into two scores and running a kick back 96 yards for a touchdown after Maryland scored to basically provide the margin of victory.

"There were some examples of luck," Rodriguez said. "Some of the turnovers were forced ... A couple of times, the ball went our way. I hope that keeps up all season."

On Thursday, the breaks - and Steve Slaton's statement - all went WVU's way.

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