Kill Shots

Maryland-West Virginia contests are typically hard-hitting affairs, but almost all of the big hits in Saturday's 31-19 Mountaineer win were executed by the Gold and Blue.

As befits any rivalry, the action in any Maryland - WVU game is often heated. The games are physical, there's a little extra "oomph" in the contact, and players usually take a day longer to recover from all the bruises and contusions that usually result from such action.

Over the last four years, each team has gotten its share of big hits as well. The Terps, in winning four of five games over a four-year span, used its big offensive line and speedy, physical linebackers to dish out punishment. WVU didn't lie down during that timeframe, and managed to level some big licks of its own.

Last Saturday, however, the tide turned totally in favor of the Mountaineers. West Virginia fielded a defensive line that could stand toe-to-toe with the Terps' big boys up front, and as the men in the trenches took control, the back eight on the WVU defense began taking aim at their foes in red.

Setting the tone was bandit Mike Lorello, who blew into the backfield on a first-quarter blitz and crushed Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach on a key thrid down play. The hit forced a fumble that pushed the Terps out of field goal range.

Lorello got Hollenbach again in the second quarter, dumping the scrambling QB with a picture perfect tackle to force another fourth down situation.

"That was a situation where I was on both the quarterback and the pitch man, and he had kept the ball every time, so I figured I would just go after him," siad the laconic Lorello, who did just that with a vengenace.

Those hits just set the tone for Maryland's final drive, on which the Mountaineers seemed to punctuate every play with a bone-jarring collision.

First it was cornerback Dee McCann, who blasted Lance Ball after a one-yard catch. Then fellow corner Larry Williams got in on the action, crushing Jo Jo Walker after a reception. Next McCann reintroduced himelf to ball, smashing him and breaking up a pass attempt, and finally Lorello capped his day of big hits by nearly cutting wide receiver Drew Weatherly in half to break up yet another third down attempt.

"I don't know if they were more tired than us, but it just seemed like they were getting set up a little bit, and we were taking the shots where we could," Lorello said afterward. "I think that showed they weren't going to score on us again."

Not only that, the Mountaineers ended the game with those exclamation points on a day in which their lines controlled the action for most of the contest, and in which they physically dominated play. That hasn't been the case in recent encounters with the Terrapins, but not even the most ardent Maryland supporter could argue that point.

The physical play extended to both sides of the ball, where the revamped WVU offensive line paved the way for 301 yards rushing against a stout Terp defensive unit. Even all-world linebacker D'Qwell Jackson admitted that his team was out-hit.

"We just couldn't seem to win the battle up front," he said with evident frustration. They just ran the ball down our throats today, and there is nothing you can say to that."

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