MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The game began with Maryland committing three delay-of game penalties and a false start and retreating steadily backwards toward its goal line as 60,000 fans in Milan Puskar Stadium howled with delight.
That was the first of a series of forgettable early possessions for Maryland, which surrendered 345 first-half yards and made just four first downs in the half as it fell behind by three touchdowns to 21st-ranked West Virginia.
After that, the game became about whether the Terps (2-1) could overcome such a dreadful first half. The Terps ultimately could not, losing 31-17 -- their ninth straight loss in another team's stadium.
The Terps at least made it interesting. Maryland had scoring passes of 60 and 80 yards from Jamarr Robinson to Torrey Smith and a Travis Baltz field goal in the third quarter. West Virginia was playingÃÆÃâÃâÃ without suspended starting cornerback Brandon Hogan.
It was a play Smith did not make that the Terps are likely to remember. With Maryland down 28-14 in the third quarter, Robinson freed himself and found Smith in the back of the end zone. But the receiver dropped the ball.
Maryland has now dropped five straight to West Virginia. The teams last played in 2007.
Maryland was victimized by West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar), who caught the first two touchdown passes from Geno Smith, who ended the game with four. Austin was heavily recruited by Maryland before committing to West Virginia.
The first half ended with Maryland backup quarterback Danny O'Brien getting sacked by Bruce Irvin and stumbling toward the sideline. O'Brien did not return.
Offensive lineman Justin Gilbert also left the game with an injury. His status was unknown.
Maryland managed to force three turnovers -- two fumbles and an interception -- that helped them stay in the game.