COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — C.J. Brown got hit so hard, the helmet flew off his head.
It was one of many punishing blows the Maryland quarterback absorbed in a physical duel against West Virginia.
He walked off the field with several welts and bruises, none of which would have been nearly as painful if the Terrapins hadn't lost 40-37 on Saturday.
Maryland cut a 28-6 deficit to 28-27 in the third quarter, then dug out of a 10-point hole in the fourth quarter before West Virginia's Clint Trickett directed a 65-yard drive to set up a 47-yard field goal by Josh Lambert as time expired.
Brown ran a for touchdown and threw for another. He gained 161 on the ground and was 19 for 35 for 241 yards through the air.
It wasn't enough.
"I'm pretty beat up," he said, "but at the same time it hurts a little more after that loss."
Maryland (2-1) finished with 447 yards, but West Virginia (2-1) amassed 694 yards, 33 first downs and ran 108 plays.
"With all the things we did today, we still had the opportunity to try and win the game at the end," coach Randy Edsall said. "We came up short."
Brown left the game late in the first half after absorbing a jarring hit that popped off his helmet. But the sixth-year senior returned in the second half and sprinted for a 75-yard score on the first play from scrimmage to get Maryland to 28-27.
"I thought he had fun out there even though he might have taken a couple of tough hits," Edsall said. "I think this will give him more confidence; that's the way he has to play to be successful."
The comeback started with a 77-yard pass from Brown to Stefon Diggs, and after Brown was knocked from the game, Caleb Rowe connected with Jacquille Veii for a 26-yard score to bring the Terps to 28-20 at the break.
After Brown's long run, West Virginia got some breathing room when a blocked punt rolled out of the end zone, and Trickett made it 37-27 with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Daikiel Shorts.
But a fumble on a punt return set up a Maryland field goal, and William Likely tied it at 37 with a 69-yard punt return with 9:43 remaining.
At that point, the Terrapins' offense sputtered. Maryland failed to convert its last 10 third-down plays and failed to make a first down in the fourth quarter.
"Third-down conversions were the big thing for us," Brown lamented. "You want to keep the defense off the field and we need to stay on the field."
The game might not have been close except for West Virginia mistakes. The Mountaineers committed four turnovers — three inside the Maryland 30 — and had a field-goal try blocked.
Trickett threw four touchdown passes and for 511 yards, the second-most in school history behind a 656-yard performance by Geno Smith in 2012. Trickett went 37 for 49, and the Mountaineers needed every one of those completions to finally put away the Terrapins.
"We gave up plays, they gave up plays," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. "It was that type of football game."
"I barely even did anything," Trickett said. "I'm throwing two yards to those guys and they take it 90. It makes me look good."
The Mountaineers rolled up 382 yards in offensive in the first half, including 307 in the air.
West Virginia made a statement on the game's first play, a 50-yard completion from Trickett to Wendell Smallwood. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rushel Shell, the Mountaineers' first score against Maryland in two games.
There would be more touchdowns. Many more.
After Trickett threw a 43-yard TD pass to Alford, Maryland countered with a field goal. Less than a minute later, White broke from the right side, caught a short pass and sprinted across the field for a 44-yard score.
Following another Maryland field goal, Alford made a leaping catch in the left corner of the end zone for a 36-yard TD and a 28-6 lead.
The defense couldn't make the margin stand up, but at game's end the Mountaineers were the only ones celebrating.
"It's a great win for the team, the program," linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said. "Points-wise, we gave up a lot, but a win's a win."
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