WVU football: Mountaineers shut out for first time since 2002
BALTIMORE -- West Virginia left M&T Bank Stadium Saturday night drenched, dominated and with some deep doubts about its offense.
And as strange as it may seem to say of a day that witnessed their 37-0 loss, the Mountaineers saved their very worst until the very end with turnovers on their final three possessions, each on a play that began inside Maryland's 30-yard line.
"Offensively, we're inept as we can possibly be in college football," Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Maryland handed WVU its first shutout loss in 12 years and worst shutout loss in 38 seasons to end a seven-game losing streak in the series.
The Terrapins last beat the Mountaineers, 41-7, in the 2004 Gator Bowl, which was the last time a WVU team was beaten as badly in a first half as WVU was on a rainy day in the home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
No offensive players were made available to the media after the game.
WVU totaled 175 yards of offense, the worst total in 10 years. WVU was last shut out in 2001, a 35-0 loss at home to Virginia Tech.
"Me being a senior leader on this team, it's my word to you: That's not going to happen again," nose guard Shaq Rowell said. "There's nothing else I can tell you. We're not going to get goose egged again."
Rowell said the outcome was "very embarrassing," and he noted Maryland's players had "talked trash" in the press throughout the week before they walked the walk on the field.
"Maryland's going to be talking (stuff) for a year," Rowell said. "It's 365 days until we play again, but they deserve it. They beat the hell out of us -- 37-0. They hadn't beaten us in a decade. I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed.
"All three sides of the ball, we got our ass kicked. That's never going to happen again when I'm here."
The Mountaineers are now 2-2 and have scored seven points in their two losses, which are also the only two games they haven't played against teams either currently in or just graduated from the Football Championship Subdivision. WVU had six turnovers and six first downs.
"Myself offensively, the coaches, the players, we've got to get better," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "Obviously, that's not acceptable. That's as bad as I've ever seen it. We've got to get a lot better."
Holgorsen had never been shut out in seven seasons as either an offensive coordinator or head coach. His third WVU team plays only Big 12 games the rest of the way, beginning Saturday when the Mountaineers play host to No. 11 Oklahoma State, the preseason conference favorite that was off this weekend.
"We've got to look in the mirror," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. Offensively, it's not working. We'll do whatever we need to do to fix it."
WVU ran 25 times for 113 yards and that was greatly inflated by 30- and 51-yard runs deep in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Ford Childress completed 11 of 22 passes for only 62 yards. Holgorsen's WVU teams had never attempted fewer passes in a game and no WVU quarterback had ever thrown more passes and totaled fewer yards in a game.
Eight of the complete passes went to running back Charles Sims for 33 yards. Six receivers who played in the game combined for one catch for 12 yards, and that catch by Ronald Carswell on the opening drive stood as the longest play of the game until the 30-yard run.
Holgorsen vowed to stick with Childress despite his struggles in his second career start.
"We made a decision he's going to be our guy and he'sgoing to be our guy," Holgorsen said. "He's going to continue to get better and better. He's a redshirt freshman who'd played one game. He's not very experienced, he's not very seasoned. That's not an excuse; he needs to step up, man up and get better.
"The people around him need to step up and do the same. A lot of the guys around him are a lot more experienced than him and they're not doing a very good job right now and that needs to change, including me."
The defense allowed scoring drives of 24, 34, 62, 42, 6 and finally 89 yards when defensive coordinator Keith Patterson blitzed heavily as he tried to get a stop, but saw no rewards. Twenty-eight of Maryland's points were the result of turnovers. The three field goal drives started after WVU punts, each at the end of a three-and-out.
Maryland, meanwhile, passed its first true test of the season after beating winless Florida International, Old Dominion and winless UConn. The Terrapins (4-0) had 330 yards of offense and 38 minutes, 6 seconds of possession. The defense held WVU without a first down for almost two full quarters. The special teams contributed three field goals and recovered a WVU muffed punt.
The Mountaineers had good looks at scores, though when the game was no longer in question.
Late in the third quarter, safety K.J. Dillon disrupted an option play and forced and recovered a fumble at the Maryland 26-yard line. Running back Charles Sims caught a screen pass on the next play and gained six yards, but lost a fumble at the 20.
It was WVU's fourth turnover, equal to the number of first downs they had with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Terrapins lost another fumble on an option that quarterback C.J. Brown kept. WVU took over at the 33, but Childress was sacked before freshman running back Wendell Smallwood lost a fumble at the end of a 30-yard run.
Dreamius Smith's 51-yard run late in the fourth quarter gave the Mountaineers the ball at the Maryland 45. The final turnover would follow when Childress was pressured, spun around and flipped the ball to Sims, who wasn't ready and lost the fumble.
Nothing went WVU's way, beginning early in a first half that saw three turnovers and two first downs. Maryland's Stefon Diggs muffed a punt near his end zone, but recovered.
On third down after the first muff, WVU linebacker Jared Barber read a pass and jumped the route, but couldn't secure the interception.
On Maryland's second punt, Carswell signaled for a fair catch, but had the ball go over his head. He turned to find the ball and had it bounce back and hit him in the shoulder for the first of three first-half turnovers.
The next time Carswell went to field a punt, he let it bounce and waved off his teammates, but fielded the ball at his 11 and stood there, seemingly unaware that his hand signal wasn't a fair catch, until he was tackled.
"Our special teams were extremely average," Holgorsen said, well aware that in both losses special teams miscues have contributed to more points than his offense scored. Special teams errors against Oklahoma led to 10 points in the 16-7 loss.
Following the first turnover, the Terrapins took over at the WVU 24 and Barber had a pass go through his hands and skip into the air and to tight end Dave Steinbaugh for a 6-yard touchdown.
WVU somehow managed to take a delay of game penalty before first down following the kickoff return -- and that would be followed later in second the quarter by separate penalties for having 12 men on the field.
Childress then forced a pass on the right sideline that was intercepted and returned 28 yards for a touchdown by Maryland's A.J. Hendy, who recovered Carswell's fumble and the goofy Childress flick to Sims on WVU's final drive.
WVU punted in the second quarter and William Likely muffed his catch, but also recovered and Maryland took a 17-0 lead on a 50-yard field goal by Brad Craddock, who matched his career high. He'd add field goals the next two drives from 35 and 30 yards away for a 23-0 lead.
The Mountaineers then started at their 10 after a holding penalty on the kickoff return and Childress had his pass on first down batted into the air and then intercepted by linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil. Brown sneaked across the goal line three plays later.
The last time WVU trailed worse than 30-0 at the half of a game was 31-0 to Maryland in the 2004 Gator Bowl.
The Mountaineers had just two first downs and one was on the first play of the game. The next 26 plays produced 54 yards and one first down. WVU went the final 20 plays of the half without a first down and sandwiched four three-and-outs between Childress' two interceptions.