Vernon Davis’ performance against West Virginia is definitely one of the greatest in the series in recent years. Mandatory Credit: University of Maryland
With West Virginia being one of the only true rivals that regularly faces Maryland, it’s one of the most anticipated match-ups on the schedule. Through research and analyzing several games between the two schools over the past ten years, I’ve come up with three individual performances that I feel are the most impressive. I’ve got some Maryland and some West Virginia mixed in here. Since the teams have a storied history, feel free to leave your favorite performances in the comments section.
3.) Tavon Austin – September 22, 2012
This is a wound that is still fresh for many Terps fans. The combination of quarterback Geno Smith and wideout Tavon Austin had a field day against Maryland in last season’s matchup. The Dunbar product put up a mind-blowing 13 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns through the air. This game made it perfectly clear why Austin was a first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Austin used his quickness to run for a ton of yards after the catch.
As for the game, Maryland was obviously a big underdog, especially traveling to Morgantown. It was only freshman quarterback Perry Hills’ third collegiate start but he played pretty well given the circumstances. Stefon Diggs also had a big game with a pair of highlight reel touchdown receptions. However, the Mountaineers just proved to have too much firepower in the end as they ended up winning the contest 31-21.
2.) Torrey Smith – September 18, 2010
The Terps came into the 2010 contest against West Virginia with a lot to prove. The Mountaineers were ranked 21st in the nation and the Terps we’re hoping to deliver the knockoff punch early. That never happened as West Virginia jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the third quarter with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey grabbing two touchdowns apiece.
However, the Terps didn’t lay down for their rivals. Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson threw a pair of touchdown passes to Smith from 80 and 60 yards respectively to cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, it proved to be too little too late as Maryland didn’t register any more points on the scoreboard as they fell 31-14.
Now you may think that three catches doesn’t exemplify a top performance in this series but I believe it does. Smith also had that home run threat and proved it in this game with 149 yards on just those three grabs. If a quarterback hit him in stride within his vicinity, he could take it the house. For example, in this game, Smith piled up 140 receiving yards on two plays. That is mind-boggling and yet another reason why I believe that Torrey Smith is one of the greatest wideouts in Maryland history.
1. Vernon Davis- September 17, 2010 5 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown
This seems to be a common theme here. Even if a Terp went off West Virginia, it was in a losing effort. The story is no different with former Maryland tight end Vernon Davis. Davis came into the 2010 season with a ton of hype and eventually ended up declaring early for the NFL Draft where he was selected sixth overall by the San Francisco 49ers. Coming into the West Virginia game, Davis already have 166 receiving yards on only eight catches and a touchdown. With Maryland down 20-6 in the fourth quarter against the Mountaineers, Sam Hollenbach found Davis for a 73-yard touchdown catch and the Terps were right back in the game. Just 1:58 later, Hollenbach hit Jo-Jo Walker for a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game. However, West Virginia answered with 10 consecutive points in the final five minutes to edge the Terps. Davis ended up finishing the game with five catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Davis may be the most impressive physical specimen to ever play in College Park. Over his career at Maryland, Davis hauled in 83 passes for 1,371 yards and nine touchdowns. Despite playing three years, he only caught five passes during his freshman campaign in 2003. Davis was the perfect combination of size and speed. He had the tight end body but had wide receiver speed. He could also break tackles and run for miles after the catch. Davis was arguably the greatest tight end in Maryland history and still enjoying a stellar career with the 49ers. Many of his performances, including this one, go down in the record books.