WVU Plays Giveaway

Six West Virginia turnovers led to 14 points and ended four promising drives in Maryland's 32-20 win Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

It marks the first time since 1995 that Maryland (4-0) has won four games to start the season. WVU drops to 2-2, 0-1 in the Big East and has lost all momentum going into its toughest stretch of the season.

Quarterback Brad Lewis threw four interceptions, and tailbacks Avon Cobourne (two fumbles, both lost) and Quincy Wilson each fumbled as WVU blew several scoring chances.

"The turnovers were the difference in the game," Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said. "You can't turn it over six times and expect to win. They did a good job just to hang in there."

The most harmful turnover came when WVU quarterback Brad Lewis fumbled while going down at the Maryland 48-yard line. The loose ball was scooped up by UM linebacker Mike Whaley and returned 52 yards for a touchdown to put Maryland ahead 19-13. The turnover killed momentum and gave Maryland the lead for good.

Maryland, conversely, had no turnovers and was much more fundamentally sound. Their grind-it-out attack punched the ball in when needed, and was able to eat clock at the end of the game.

"Their idea is great," Friedgen said. "But when you get down there in the red zone it's tough. That's why the call it that. There isn't the room to spread it out and we can jump those short routes. You have to be able to run the ball in there.

"And there comes a time when you have to block somebody man-to-man. It's physical. We were able to block and run, and that's why we were able to pound the ball in."

Indeed, West Virginia again failed to finish. Down by 12, West Virginia was inside the Terp 20 twice in the last six minutes but was stopped a yard short on fourth down both times. It was typical of a WVU team that has found no way to punch the ball into the end zone once it gets inside the 20.

"We are no executing when we need to, especially in the red zone," WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "You are not going to beat anybody with six turnovers, especially a good Maryland team."

The first Blue and Gold push ended in an interception in the end zone and four others ended in turnovers, three of which came inside Maryland territory. Brad Lewis' fumble crushed hopes and Maryland sealed the game by stuffing WVU twice on fourth and one from inside the red zone.

West Virginia was also hurt by the Big East crew, which lacked only a tent to be considered a circus. The officials blatantly missed several calls, including a pass interference on Cobourne than ended a drive and the last play of the second quarter, when Maryland was allowed to run a play with no time left.

Overall, the officials were a joke, but not as much as the Mountaineer offense.

On a high note, WVU return man Shawn Terry brought back another kickoff for a touchdown and WVU's special teams outplayed Maryland overall. On a day without many bright spots, we'll take what we can get.

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