Taulia Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes, including a lead-extending 60-yarder to Rakim Jarrett in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon, as Maryland opened the 2021 football season with a 30-24 non-conference victory over visiting West Virginia.
Dontay Demus Jr. and Chigoziem Okonkwo also hauled in TD receptions for the Terrapins (1-0), who hadn’t faced West Virginia since 2015 and had beaten the Mountaineers just once in their previous 10 meetings.
Running back Leddie Brown scored three times for West Virginia (0-1), which was coming off a 6-4 season that included a Liberty Bowl win over Army.
A high-scoring affair turned into a defensive struggle after the Maryland defense, which had given up touchdowns on three of West Virginia’s first four possessions, held the visitors to three points over the game’s final 41 minutes.
The teams scored on six of the game’s first eight possessions, with West Virginia’s Brown twice giving his team a lead, first at 7-3 on a 20-yard pass from Jarret Doege in the game’s seventh minute and later at 21-17 on a 9-yard run with 11:30 remaining in the half.
Brown also scored on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter and finished with 112 total yards — 69 on 16 carries and 43 on four receptions from Doege, who passed for 280 yards with two interceptions.
Down 21-20 at the half, Maryland took the lead for good on Joseph Petrino’s third field goal, a 25-yarder with 9:16 remaining in the game.
After Doege threw 39 yards to Sam James to the Maryland 13 on the Mountaineers’ next drive, Jakorian Bennett intercepted a pass in the end zone, West Virginia’s fourth turnover.
Tagovailoa then found Jarrett all alone down the left sideline for the 60-yard score with 6:25 to play that gave Maryland the cushion it needed to pull off the mild upset.
Casey Legg’s 24-yard field goal with 2:53 left ended West Virginia’s scoring drought and made it a one-score game at 30-24, but Tayon Fleet-Davis busted loose for a 53-yard run on Maryland’s ensuing possession and the Terrapins were able to run out the clock.
Tagovailoa finished 26-for-36 for 332 yards with no interceptions. Fleet-Davis was the game’s leading rusher with 123 yards on 18 carries, while Demus (six catches, 133 yards) and Jarrett (six catches, 122 yards) both went over 100 yards in receptions.
–Field Level Media
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