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WVU just hangs on for road victory

West Virginia’s Geno Smith throws while being pressured by Maryland defensive lineman Andre Monroe in the second half.

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West Virginia’s Geno Smith throws while being pressured by Maryland defensive lineman Andre Monroe in the second half.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — One of these days, West Virginia will put together two good halves in the same afternoon.

For now, one outstanding half per game is good enough.

Geno Smith threw for a career-high 388 yards and the 18th-ranked Mountaineers withstood a furious comeback by Maryland to pull out a 37-31 victory Saturday.

One week earlier, West Virginia trailed Norfolk State at halftime before pulling away. The Mountaineers addressed that and used what they learned to build a 27-10 lead at the break against the stunned Terrapins.

The margin swelled to 24 points before Maryland rallied to within 34-31 with 10:29 left.

"We kind of let off the gas, not intentionally, but I just think we came out fired up," Smith said. "We didn't put together four solid quarters. … We need to come back and show more effort and play harder."

Smith directed a 14-play, 65-yard drive that produced a field goal with 4:42 left, leaving the Terrapins no choice but to score a touchdown.

Maryland moved to the West Virginia 35 before Eain Smith intercepted a Danny O'Brien pass with 1:13 remaining to hand coach Randy Edsall his first defeat at Maryland.

"I thought we made too many errors," the former Connecticut coach said of the Terrapins' three turnovers and seven penalties. "…We didn't get it done because West Virginia is a good team and we made some mistakes."

Both teams used no-huddle offenses with uncanny efficiency. West Virginia gained 480 yards, and Maryland amassed 477.

The Terrapins scored three straight touchdowns to cut the gap to 34-31, thrilling the sellout crowd of 53,627.

"They played harder than we did for the majority of the second half," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They got some momentum, and it's a game of momentum."

IOWA 31, PITTSBURGH 27: With all hope apparently lost, the Hawkeyes turned to James Vandenberg and asked the junior to start chucking it.

Vandenberg responded by engineering the biggest comeback in Iowa history. He threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the host Hawkeyes rallied from a 17-point deficit with just more than 12 minutes left to stun the Panthers.

Vandenberg threw for 399 yards — 162 in the fourth quarter — and completed a rally with a 22-yard touchdown to Kevonte Martin-Manley with 2:51 left.

Iowa's Micah Hyde picked off Tino Sunseri with 1:41 left, ending Pittsburgh's last chance.

"We're just not mature right now to be able to close it out like we needed to," first-year Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham said. "I'm hurting for them, hurting for those seniors. That one hurt a bunch."

CINCINNATI 59, AKRON 14: Zach Collaros threw for a touchdown and ran for another and the defense returned three turnovers for scores in the first half for the host Bearcats, who led 49-0 at halftime and got a chance to rest their starters the rest of the way. The Zips have been outscored 142-17 in three games, losing to Ohio State, Temple and Cincinnati.

No. 18 WVU 37

Maryland 31

WVU just hangs on for road victory 09/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:31pm]

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