Despite early struggles, the Mountaineers pulled out the victory over the Maryland Terrapins with a final score of 31-21.
West Virginia adds a win to their record and keeps the loss column at zero. Maryland was the most difficult matchup for the Mountaineers this season, and proved to be nothing less than what head coach Dana Holgorsen expected.
"I want to congratulate Maryland on a hard-fought game," said Holgorsen after the game. "Coming into today's game, we talked a lot about how good of a quality team Maryland was. We knew they were going to come in and challenge us; and we had to match that."
Sporting the grey uniforms for the first time in school history, WVU experienced their first slow start of the season. The offense didn't produce any points on the opening drive of the game, something they accomplished against both Marshall and James Madison.
However, after a punt the defense took things into their own hands to put points on the scoreboard. Darwin Cook made a phenomenal play to jump the snap and force Maryland quarterback Perry Hills to cough up the football. Doug Rigg then scooped it up and ran 51 yards to the end zone.
The second drive for the Mountaineers brought things back to normal. In just two plays, WVU traveled 78 yards down the field. Tavon Austin caught a short slant route from Geno Smith and wiggled his way past defenders and down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown play.
Maryland then found a way back into the ball game. Finding success in several screen plays, and highlighting Stefon Diggs and Matt Furstenburg, the Terrapins scored on back-to-back drives tie the game at 14.
That was as tight as the score got for the remainder of the game. Tavon Austin had his best game so far this season. The Baltimore, Maryland native caught 13 passes for a total of 179 yards. He passed Jock Sanders for the number one spot on the all-time receptions list at WVU with 208 catches throughout his career.
Geno Smith didn't produce the same numbers that people have become used to. He struggled to complete passes and find receivers down field, and was seen being yelled at by head coach Dana Holgorsen at the end of the third quarter. He finished the game 30 for 43, 338 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The running game for WVU was almost nonexistent, despite Dustin Garrison seeing action for the first time this season. Andrew Buie took the bulk of the carries with 14, but managed just 33 yards on the ground.
Shawne Alston dressed, but barely saw the field as he is battling with a thigh bruise from last week's game. Garrison had just 2 carries, for a total of one yard rushing.
The defense of West Virginia had its ups and downs. They managed to cause two turnovers through fumbles, but couldn't grab an interception against the freshman quarterbacks of Maryland.
They also struggled to stop Maryland on third downs, allowing the Terrapins to convert on seven of 14 tries. It has been an area of emphasis for this defense so far this season.
True freshman Stefon Diggs had a big day for Maryland, hauling in three passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to get most of his yards in free space after he caught the ball, and Holgorsen knows the team needs to work on that.
"The one negative defensively, and I thought we played good defensively, is we didn't tackle when they completed balls in space," said Holgorsen. "We controlled the line of scrimmage , and they didn't get very many rushing yards. But they got way too many yards after the catch. We'll continue to keep working on it."
The Mountaineers open Big 12 Conference play next Saturday when Baylor comes in to Morgantown. With conference play beginning, the pressure has tightened to play the best football each week.
"We are still young in the season, so there is plenty to work on," said Holgorsen. "We'll get back to work this week after watching tape on all three sides of the ball. But there is plenty of room for improvement."
Baylor is the first "Stripe the Stadium" game at Milan Puskar Stadium. It is set to begin at noon.