MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Maryland will arrive at Mountaineer Field for Saturday's noon game against No. 8 West Virginia as a 2-1 football team.
However, it could have been a much different story for the Terrapins in Coach Randy Edsall's second season.
Maryland beat Football Championship Subdivision program William & Mary 7-6 in the season-opener and had four turnovers and just 236 yards of offense.
The Terrapins also had All-American defensive lineman Joe Vellano and the fifth-year senior from Rexford, N.Y., affected the game early in the second quarter. With the Tribe marching for a third time in four possessions, Vellano secured his first career interception at the Maryland 26-yard line to keep the Terrapins down just 6-0.
"It was kind of crazy," Vellano said Wednesday. "We were talking all week about how they had a throw-back screen. I stepped down and saw their tackle not really blocking me that hard and trying to sneak out for the screen. I got on his hip and saw the running back leak out. I started going over there to make the tackle, but he got hit and the ball popped up and I grabbed it."
William & Mary had already kicked two field goals, though Vellano made that possible with a tackle on third-and-5 that forced the first field goal from 30 yards.
"Their kicker was kicking pretty well, so we were definitely trying to make a big play and get a turnover down in the red zone," Vellano said. "That was one of the biggest points of the game."
It kept the Tribe from taking a two-score lead at 9-0 or 13-0 and meant Maryland would need just one score to win.
The Terrapins waited a while and finally got the game-winning touchdown with 9:52 remaining in the game.
"When their guy had it, there was nobody else out there to stop him," Vellano said. "It was a good play and you could see it happen as they threw it. They could have easily made a big play there."
Vellano made 11 tackles in the game and has 18 with 4 1/2 tackles for a loss and one sack this season. Twice an all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick in his career at Maryland, he's moved to defensive end as the team has switched to a 3-4 defense this season.
"He's a guy we were concerned with last year," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said of the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Vellano. "He's a big, thick, try-hard guy who anchors their defense."
Maryland allows just 103 rushing yards per game and Vellano, a captain last season and again this season, ranks third nationally with 1.5 tackles for a loss per game. The Mountaineers have run for 331 and 121 yards in their 2-0 start and are No. 2 nationally with 7.4 yards per carry. WVU ran the ball 31 times for 92 yards in the 37-31 win at Maryland last season, when Vellano had three tackles.