COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Tony Gibson saw a busted coverage give Maryland’s most dangerous receiver an easy 77-yard stroll, and he watched the Terrapins quarterback turn an innocuous-looking keeper into a 75-yard touchdown.
He wasn’t satisfied with the 447 yards his unit surrendered, which equated to a brutal 6.9 per-play average and showed some all-too-familiar breakdowns.
Gibson’s biggest takeaway, however, was what West Virginia’s defense didn’t allow—stopping Maryland on its final 10 third-down attempts, including one after the Terps recovered Jordan Thompson’s fumbled punt at the Mountaineers’ 8-yard line.
“A year ago could we have been able to win that game? I don’t think so,” he said. “Our kids have matured and believe in
I hate giving up 37 points, but I thought the kids responded. The whole fourth quarter they felt they could go out, make a play and get a stop.”
In actuality, Gibson’s defense yielded 27 points—with West Virginia’s special teams responsible for the other 10. Maryland tied the game on Will Likely’s 69-yard punt return, and Thompson’s turnover gifted a field goal.
Still, he witnessed mistakes that haunted WVU’s previous two defensive coordinators the past two years.
Defensive back K.J. Dilllon “got his eyes in the wrong place” and released Stefon Diggs to run free down the middle for a 77-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
On the opening play of the second half, quarterback C.J. Brown energized the Byrd Stadium crowd with a 75-yard dash down the sideline.
“That’s the first play all year that you could be disappointed in effort,” Gibson said. “I think we had a lot of guys stop and think the quarterback was going to run out of bounds, and he kept going, so I saw some loafing.”
“We can’t give up one-play drives, and today we did it two times.”
Yet, Brown’s touchdown run was the last time Maryland’s offense produced anything. On its last seven possessions, the Terrapins ran 24 plays that netted 59 yards.
“The kids settled in,” Gibson said. “The last seven drives, to hold (Maryland) scoreless, was just a great effort by those kids. They didn’t panic at all.
“It was probably the most up-and-down game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Brown gets loose: Maryland’s quarterback accounted for 161 of his team’s 168 yards rushing. His 18 carries included the 75-yarder that was the longest by an FBS quarterback this season.
“I was just trying to set up the blocks and see where it would go,” Brown said. “As soon as I made it through the last guy, I heard the crowd and thought oops there must not be anyone around me.”
Brown also threw for 241 yards and one touchdown on 19-of-35 completions.
Brown gets belted: On a scramble late in the first half, Brown lost his helmet after being leveled by linebacker Shaq Petteway.
“I tried to get down but he got me pretty good,” said Brown, who squatted on the field helmetless as trainers checked him for concussion. He didn’t have a head injury, but was buying time for Caleb Rowe to get settled, and the backup closed th drive with a 26-yard scoring pass to Jacquille Veii,
Brown returned in the second half, though he admitted two sacks and the downfield hit by Petteway left him “pretty beat-up.”
“It was a physical game,” he said, “but it hurts a little bit more after that loss.”