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by Joedy McCreary
MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University's players made it their mission to virtually end their game with Maryland by halftime. Mission accomplished.
The No. 19 Mountaineers (1-1) used four touchdowns in a 15-minute first half span to cruise past Maryland, 42-20, in a not-as-close-as that game Saturday evening at Mountaineer Field. Marc Bulger and Amos Zereoue overcame first-quarter fumbles to post impressive numbers. Bulger passed for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and Zereoue rushed for 135 yards and two scores, as the Mountaineers totaled 468 yards of offense.
For Bulger, winning the game was a lot like removing a Band-Aid: Quickness counts.
I thought about winning quickly, especially when we had those two turnovers, and during the second quarter, we took over," quarterback Marc Bulger said.
"We moved the ball well the entire game. We just had to stop hurting ourselves," Bulger commented.
Zereoue, who rushed for 135 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns in a little over two quarters of work, reasserted himself after his minus-3 yard second-half performance against Ohio State two weeks ago.
And Bulger completed 20 of 25 attempts for 293 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Maryland, which took No. 10 Virginia to the wire a week ago, had 165 rushing yards, with the bulk of those coming against WVU's second-stringers.
WVU held a 42-3 advantage in the third quarter before WVU coach Don Nehlen called off the dogs.
Coming back from a 39-point deficit would prove too much, said Terp coach Ron Vanderlinden.
"It would take the greatest comeback in the history of football to come back from that," Vanderlinden said.
The backbreaker for Maryland was David Carter's blocked punt, which he returned for a touchdown with 1:33 left in the second quarter.
The Terps had the ball at their own 14-yard line, with punter Russ Edwards standing near his own goal line.
Carter rushed through the middle, blocked the punt at the goal line and scooped the ball up in the end zone for the Mountaineers' final touchdown of the first half.
It capped a wild, wacky 15 minutes of the first half in which the Mountaineers' offense worked with efficiency not seen since last season.
The Mountaineers started their scoring spree on the final play of the first quarter.
They marched 92 yards in the quarter's final 4:0. Khori Ivy turned in a diving touchdown catch on a Bulger bootleg as time expired.
Bulger passed for three first downs to three different receivers on that drive. He hit Foreman for 21 yards, Pat Greene for 13 and Ivy for a 28-yarder on which he took a bone-crushing hit from Cliff Crosby.
But the Terps countered that drive with one of their own. Maryland went 51 yards on 10 plays before stalling at the WVU 26. That forced Brian Kopka to kick a 43-yard field goal, making it 7-3.
That was as close as the Terps would get.
The Mountaineers scored touchdowns on their next two possessions to make it 21-3.
Following the field goal, WVU went 89 yards in eight plays, starting with a 42-yard pass to tight end Anthony Becht and finishing with a 5-yard touchdown run by Zereoue.
Maryland went three-and-out, and WVU took over at its own 47.
And Bulger went to work, hitting Ivy out of the shotgun for 30 yards and Shawn Foreman for a 16-yard score.
That set the stage for Carter to block Maryland's punt -- and with it, the Terps' upset hopes.
"Quote from Carter on the punt"
West Virginia started the second half the same way it ended the first half. On fire.
The Mountaineers scored touchdowns the first two times they had the ball to put things even further out of Maryland's reach.
After the Terps punted on their first possession, WVU rode Zereoue's legs on a 6-play, 41-yard touchdown drive. Zereoue gained 31 yards on five carries on the drive, which ended on Pat Greene's 10-yard touchdown reception from Bulger.
Maryland then fumbled on its second play, and Chris Edmonds recovered it at the Terps' 13.
Three plays later, Zereoue scored his second touchdown of the night, a 3-yarder that made it 42-3 with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
Maryland fullback Matt Kalapinski tacked on two late touchdowns and Kopka added another field goal to close the gap to 22 points. Ivy led WVU's receivers with five catches for 93 yards, including a touchdown catch.