College Park, Md. Call it Devine intervention: After entering in the second half, freshman Noel Devine provided three long runs to propel No. 4 West Virginia to victory against a longtime rival.
Steve Slaton ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns, Devine amassed 125 yards on his first three carries, and the Mountaineers cruised past Maryland, 31-14, Thursday night.
The 5-foot-8 Devine served as a Slaton's setup man. Early in the third quarter, Devine ran 31 yards to the Maryland 1, putting Slaton in position for the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs.
Late in the period, Devine rambled 76 yards to the Maryland 1. Slaton scored on the next play to put the Mountaineers up 28-7.
"I think I ran out of gas. I thought I was going to make it in the end zone," Devine said. "At least we got the points."
In the fourth quarter, Devine ran for 18 yards to place West Virginia (3-0) in position for a field goal.
"He continues to run hard and be hungry," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He's done more than we probably expected. He's still learning his way, but he's a gifted guy. I'm happy for him."
Devine finished with 136 yards rushing on five attempts.
"They see my size, I'm so short they may not be able to see me as easily," Devine said with a grin. "I thank the linemen, I ran through some big holes."
Slaton's three TDs - he had a 22-yarder in the first half - gave him 41 for his career, one short of the school record shared by Ira Errett Rodgers and Avon Cobourne.
Slaton likes the idea of having Devine in the backfield, for reasons that have nothing to do with providing him an easy route to the end zone.
"He's quick, talented and shifty. He's in one place and then another," Slaton said. "Other teams have to watch out for him. They can't just key on me, they have to key on everybody, the whole offense. It makes us better."
Keon Lattimore ran for 80 yards and a touchdown for Maryland (2-1). The Terrapins yielded a total of 350 yards in their first two games; the Mountaineers finished with 448.
"Obviously I'm disappointed with the loss, but West Virginia is a good football team," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We kind of got worn down."
West Virginia took the second-half kickoff and moved 63 yards in nine plays to go up 21-7. Three punts later, Devine's 76-yard run - tied for the longest non-scoring carry in WVU history - helped put the Mountaineers up by 21.
It was 31-7 before Maryland's Jordan Steffy threw his first career touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Danny Oquendo with 5:50 left.
A year ago, Maryland fell behind West Virginia 28-0 in the first quarter en route to a 45-27 loss. The Terrapins were determined to get off to a better start this time, but instead were thrust into an immediate flashback of last season's disaster.
On the first play from scrimmage, Steffy mishandled the snap and the Mountaineers' Johnny Dingle recovered.
"He said he never got the ball," Friedgen said of Steffy.
Two plays later, West Virginia quarterback Pat White ran 20 yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds elapsed.
This time, however, the Terrapins bounced back. Five plays after Steffy completed a 33-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on third-and-10 from the West Virginia 49, Lattimore ran in from the 4. It was his sixth touchdown of the season, matching the total of his previous three years.
Early in the second quarter, West Virginia's Owen Schmitt broke loose on a 44-yard run to the Maryland 23. Slaton then ran to the 2, but the march fizzled before Pat McAfee botched a 22-yard field goal try.
The Mountaineers got it right on their next possession. After White completed a 35-yard pass to Darius Reynaud on a third-and-11 play, Slaton scored on a 22-yard run.