It wasn’t quite the runaway the pundits predicted, but West Virginia’s 31-21 win over Maryland did keep the Mountaineers perfect as they hed into their first Big 12 Conference next week against Baylor.
Smith was harassed all afternoon, but did enough to push WVU to victory.
That provided a little breathing room for a WVU defense that was pushed around but made just enough plays to turn the tide.
A fumble recovery by Terence Garvin after Maryland was driving, set up the pitch-and-catch play between Smith and Austin that covered 34 yards.
Stefon Diggs caught his second touchdown of the game, a 56-yarder, with 7:26 left in game to cut the lead back to 31-21.
WVU’s defense did have three turnovers in the game, including a fumble recovery by Doug Rigg for the game’s first score. But the Mountaineers gave up over 350 yards in total offense.
The Mountaineers held a slim 24-14 lead at the half.
Smith threw as many incompletions in the first half (9) as he had in the first two games combined, mainly because he was consistently harassed by Maryland’s defense.
Smith still threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, both to Tavon Austin, as WVU went up 24-14 at the break.
Austin broke the WVU all-time leading receptions record in the game.
Down 14-0, Maryland actually tied the score, as freshman QB Hills connected with a wide-open Stefon Diggs from 42 yards out – he beat a WVU defender to the pylon for the score – and then Marcus Leak from 12 yards out.
But Tyler Bitancurt ended WVU’s next drive with a 37-yard field goal – WVU’s first of the season – the Mountaineer defense got a three-and-out and Smith and Austin connected on a 24-yard touchdown to make it 24-14.
Austin then hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0.