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Second half does in Maryland

September 14, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. - West Virginia had done this before.

Maryland hadn't.

It seemed as simple as all that, but really it wasn't.

After a pretty nondescript first half - at least by West Virginia standards - the No. 4 Mountaineers relied once again on second-half adjustments to pull away from the Terrapins on Thursday night for a 31-14 victory before the fifth-largest crowd in Byrd Stadium history.

The consistent pressure of WVU's offense, and the youth of Maryland's, proved out over the course of the game. WVU has been used to big plays and high scores for the last three years. Maryland is still trying to find that formula.

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West Virginia's dynamite offense was put down to firecracker mode, but it was efficient enough to wear down the Terrapins' defense, both statistically and on the scoreboard.

The Mountaineers would be considered pedestrian with their 448 yards of offense as the big plays popped out gradually against a stout defensive effort by the Terps.

Most coaches believe teams have to play four quarters to win and most teams want to control the fourth quarter. In Morgantown, the second half and winning the third quarter are enough to win games.

And it was all in typical WVU fashion for the 2007 season. The Mountaineers have hovered in the first half only to use halftime sessions and adjustments to find the things they do well. WVU had a similar performance in last week's 48-23 win over Marshall when it trailed 13-6 at halftime before pulling away.

Thursday, WVU used patience and the sleight of hand of quarterback Patrick White on handoffs to build a 14-7 halftime lead. The Mountaineers established control in the second half to win their fourth straight game against Maryland.

Steve Slaton, WVU's Heisman Trophy candidate, scored three touchdowns - including two in the second half - but only had 34 of his 137 yards after intermission. Maryland managed to control White, who scored WVU's first touchdown on a 22-yard run after the Terps fumbled away the first snap of the game. He only had 26 yards rushing and 95 yards passing after that, far off his usual standards.

WVU glowed using Plan B in the second half - turning more to passing on the first drive to get Maryland's aggressive defense off the offensive line. The first and last drives of the third quarter ended with 1-yard touchdown runs by Slaton, giving the Mountaineers a 28-7 lead and all but taking away any chance Maryand's workmanlike offense had to rally for the win.

WVU outgained Maryland 159-38 yards in the third quarter alone after making the adjustments.

Defensively, WVU became more aggressive to knock Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy off his game and control Terps running back Keon Lattimore. The Mountianeers sacked Steffy four times and got two interceptions while Lattimore, who finished with 80 yards and a touchdown, was held to seven yards on three carries in the second half.

And if it wasn't enough for Maryland to control Slaton and White, new weapon, freshman Noel Devine, broke the game open with five rushes for 136 yards - all in the second half - to put WVU in position to put the Terps away.

Maryland was long out of the game when it finally cracked the second-half scoreboard when Steffy found Danny Oquendo on a 22-yard scoring pass with 5:50 remaining. The drive represented 91 of the 126 yards Maryland got in the second half.

For the second straight week, it only took WVU 30 minutes to win a 60-minute game.

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