Three defensive turnovers highlighted West Virginia’s 31-21 win on Saturday over Maryland. In all, the Mountaineers tallied an interception and collected two of five forced fumbles.
Two of those fumbles were forced by junior safety Darwin Cook – his first came in the first quarter, leading to Doug Rigg’s 51-yard fumble recovery for a score, giving West Virginia the early 7-0 lead.
“We brought them on a blitz and sort of forced it there,” said defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. “Obviously, he was unblocked and it’s nice to be able to scoop and score. (Darwin Cook) got the ball out and Doug did a nice job of scooping it.”
Cook considered the play to be simply returning a favor for Rigg. The linebacker, of course, forced the fumble against Clemson in the Orange Bowl that sent Cook sprinting 99 yards for a West Virginia touchdown.
“That was good,” Cook said. “Doug Rigg and I have called it a truce. He forced a turnover and I scored (in the Orange Bowl). And now I forced a turnover and he scored. I’m happy about that.”
Cook’s first forced fumble on Saturday was the direct result of a designed blitz that DeForest set up for him earlier in the week.
“That was beautiful. I was so happy when he did that,” Cook said. “I wasn’t getting any action and then he put the blitz in. I was just excited – Terence (Garvin) and I were going over quarterback mannerisms. I just timed the play up very nicely and made a play. It was beautiful and I’m going to think about that tonight.”
The play couldn’t have been executed better.
“I saw Cook come in as soon as the ball was snapped and saw the ball bouncing around,” Rigg said. “My first thought was, ‘Please don’t let me miss this.’ As soon as I got it, there was no way I was getting caught.
“It gave us some momentum on defense and gave our offense a little kick-start too. They were pretty excited. It was a great start for the defense in getting three turnovers and we just preach turnovers and finishing plays – I think we did a good job of that.”
Overall, West Virginia has six turnovers on the season, with two of those resulting in defensive touchdowns.
“You look at the turnovers we’ve caused this year and we’ve had two touchdowns, we got another set up at the three or four and really we’ve created three scores based on turnovers,” DeForest said. “That’s huge in any game and it was big in this game.”