West Virginia rolls to blowout victory over Terrapins; here's a look at some unique odds-and-ends from the 52nd rendition of the Border War.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia's offense moved the ball at will against the Terrapins, scoring on its first three drives of the game, starting a tidal wave of momentum that overwhelmed Maryland and carried the Mountaineers to victory.

·         This was the 52nd Border War between WVU and Maryland. Coming into today’s game, West Virginia led the all-time series 27-22-2. This will be the last time these two teams meet until 2020.

·         With Maryland driving on the first possession of the game, the Terrapins were stopped short on 4th-and-1 from the West Virginia 39. Running back Wes Brown took the pitch on the edge with one man to beat to secure the first down, unfortunately for him, that man was safety Karl Joseph, who sprinted into the backfield and laid a crushing hit, stopping Brown and the Terrapins' momentum in its tracks.

·         Skyler Howard showed off his mobility again early, but it almost cost him big time on the first drive of the game. Howard was hit as he was going out of bounds, trying to extend the gain, and he took an absolute shot from safety A.J. Hendy. There is no questioning Howard’s toughness, as he popped right back up from the hit, but head coach Dana Holgorsen’s heart must have skipped a beat when he saw his quarterback taking such a devastating hit. Howard is far and away WVU’s best option at QB this season, and he must have the awareness to avoid hits whenever possible. He did do a much better job as the game went on sliding when he got the chance and making himself a smaller target when he did get hit.

·         West Virginia took full advantage of Maryland’s turnover-on-downs, driving the ball 61 yards on seven plays and capping its first possession of the game with an easy touchdown pass off of a play action rollout pass from Howard to Elijah Wellman, shifting the momentum heavily in the Mountaineers’ favor early on.

·         A week off seemed to do the Mountaineer offense plenty of good. West Virginia’s first three drives were lighting quick, and efficient to boot. With great starting field position on all three drives, the Mountaineers scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions. The longest of the three drives took 2:32 off the clock.

·         West Virginia dominated the first quarter against the Terrapins, racking up 21 points, 196 total yards and holding Maryland to just 80 yards. The Terps had trouble getting out of their own way, committing six penalties for a total of 50 yards in the first quarter.

·         Shelton Gibson’s speed was far too much for the Terrapins’ secondary. The redshirt sophomore torched the Maryland defense early and often, and Skyler Howard had a field day chucking it up deep, just to watch Gibson glide underneath the ball for big gains and scores. Gibson even had his way against the speedy corner William Likely, who he burned for a 41-yard score early in the second quarter.

·         It took 179 passing attempts to happen, but Skyler Howard threw the first interception of his collegiate career when he was picked off by Anthony Mixon late in the first half. Truth be told, it wasn’t really Howard’s fault, as the ball careened off receiver Jovon Durante’s hands and popped up in the air, making for an easy pick.

·         Running back Wendell Smallwood broke the 100-yard barrier on the ground before the end of the first half. Coming into this game, Smallwood was fifth in the Big 12 with 92.0 rushing yards per game.

·         The second half started rather inconspicuously for WVU, as K.J. Dillon fielded the kickoff eight or nine yards deep in the end zone and decided to bring it out. He would pay for that decision, as he fumbled the ball and Maryland recovered in excellent field position. The Terrapins couldn’t make WVU pay however, as Caleb Rowe threw his third interception of the day on the very next play. Karl Joseph made a leaping grab in the end zone, crushing any hope of gaining momentum Maryland had left.

·         Rushel Shell showed signs of breaking out of his early season funk today, chipping in hefty contributions on the ground and in the passing game. Through the first two games, Wendell Smallwood has been the clear-cut better option of the two-back system, so much so that some have advocating ditching that and making him the feature back, but Shell stepped up against the Terrapins and showed why the WVU coaching staff has faith in him.


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