Classic Games: MD/WVU, Gator Bowl Beatdown

TSR takes a look back at one of the classic matchups in the history of the MD/WVU series.

Maryland’s victory over West Virginia in the 2004 Gator Bowl marks the last time the Terps bested the Mountaineers.

It was the second meeting between the teams that season, with the Terps winning in convincing fashion 34-7 in a September showdown in College Park.

The Mountaineers entered the Gator Bowl with revenge on their minds.

They would have to wait one more season for that.

The Terps dominated in nearly every facet of the game on their way to a 41-7 victory to end the season.

Quarterback Scott McBrien led the Terps, completing 21 of 31 passes for 381 yards, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another. Nine receivers caught passes from McBrien, and four receivers had more than 50 yards through the air.

After jumping ahead on their opening drive with a Nick Novak 26-yard field goal, the Terps took to the air as McBrien connected with Jafar Williams from 31 yards out on the last play of the first quarter to extend the lead to 10.

The touchdown was preceded by two West Virginia lost fumbles, the second of which was recovered by Terps linebacker Andrew Henley at the Maryland 47 to set up the scoring drive.

The Maryland defense kept the Mountaineers in check, especially early in the contest. The first six West Virginia drives yielded only 58 yards and ended in the two fumbles and four punts.

The Mountaineers mustered their best drive at the end of the half, highlighted by two completions from quarterback Rasheed Marshall to wide receiver Chris Henry. However, the drive, as well as the half, ended with a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by kicker Brad Cooper.

By that point, the Terps had already built a commanding point lead on the strength of their special teams unit and McBrien’s arm.

The West Virginia offense could not get any thing going on their first possession of the second quarter, going three-and-out. Terps wide receiver Steve Suter fielded the ensuing Mountaineers punt from Todd James at his own 24 and scampered 76 yards to the end zone put the Terps ahead 17-0.

After another West Virginia punt, Maryland again put its faith in McBrien’s arm. The senior quarterback orchestrated an eight-play, 81-yard drive highlighted by a 28-yard completion to tight end Vernon Davis and culminating in Williams’ second touchdown catch, this one from 22 yards out.

The score gave the Terps a 24-point lead midway through the second quarter, an advantage that was never in question.

West Virginia’s offense continued to struggle in the second half.

Though the Mountaineers finally dented the scoreboard with just over six minutes left in the third quarter, they managed only four first downs the entire half.

Marshall, who ran from 15 yards out for the score, threw for only 87 yards on 16 pass attempts. Running back Kay-Jay Harris led Mountaineer backs with 56 yards on six carries.

However, they were no match for McBrien, whose two second half scores, a rushing touchdown and a 14-yard pass to Jo Jo Walker, helped cap the Terps’ victory.

The quarterback’s great performance overshadowed a pedestrian Maryland rushing effort.

The Terps managed 141 yards on 48 carries for an average of only 2.9 yards per carry. Running back Bruce Perry led Maryland with 67 yards rushing.

Despite the less than stellar ground effort, the Terps enjoyed nearly a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage due to the great performances of McBrien and the defense.

The victory gave the 2003 Terps a 10-3 record to close the season. They are the last Maryland team to reach double digits in the win column.

The 34-point victory margin marked the greatest point differential in a Terps’ bowl win. It also served as an emphatic ending for Maryland’s four-game winning streak against West Virginia.

However, the Mountaineers ran off their own four-game winning streak from 2004-2007 before a two-year interruption in the series in 2008 and 2009. They will look to continue their luck against the Terps in Morgantown on Saturday.

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