Mountaineer Moments in Adversity Part Three

Spread the love

Mountaineer Moments in Adversity Part Three

We continue our mid-Summer coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers by tracking the theme started two weeks ago in Mountaineer Moments in Adversity. We offered Part Two last week. This week, we bring you part three and look at one of the moments since joining the Big XII when it felt like West Virginia climbed a mountain.

Setting the Backdrop

After starting their inaugural Big XII season at five and zero and climbing as high as fifth in the AP polls, the Mountaineers lost five of their last seven games to end the 2012 season. What started strong slid down to the valley just as quickly. Unfortunately, the 2013 season offered more of the same.

The Mountaineers squeaked by William & Mary to open the season with a 24-17 victory. Three weeks later, West Virginia found itself on the receiving end of a shutout, losing 37-0 to hated rival Maryland. Things did not improve as WVU finished the season on consecutive losses to Kansas and Iowa State (before they climbed out of the Big XII basement themselves). They finished with just four wins snapping an eleven-season streak with a record above .500.

With Clint Trickett going into his second year in the program, Mountaineer fans found reason to hope. Some even felt confident West Virginia could beat number-two Alabama in the Georgia Dome to shock the nation. They did not, but they put up a fight, losing just 33-23 after a few controversial calls in Alabama’s favor. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers lost another early-season battle against a top-five opponent, dropping a home game against Oklahoma 45-33. This evened their record at two wins and losses, and that early optimism started to fade.

Not So Fast

In their next game, West Virginia took care of business against Kansas. Then, they traveled to Lubbock to face Texas Tech. The Red Raiders, by the way, ended the Mountaineers’ five-game streak to begin 2012 in the most convincing way possible. Texas Tech won that game 49-14, and the beat West Virginia at home the following season, too.

West Virginia had an ax to grind, but the Red Raiders build a 14-point lead with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the fourth quarter. Would the Mountaineers ever find themselves ahead of the curve? Could they not get and keep a lead on an average Texas Tech team? WVU clawed their way back and eventually won that game 37-34 on a last-second 55-yard field goal by Josh Lambert. Like that, the Mountaineers went into mid-October with a 4-2 record looking like a team on the rise.

In Walks Baylor

The next week, however, would not offer a reprieve. Indeed, the Mountaineers would welcome the undefeated and fourth-ranked Baylor Bears into Milan Puskar Stadium. At that time, the Bears–led by Bryce Petty, Shock Linwood, K.D. Cannon, and Corey Coleman–averaged 52.7 points per game, by far the tops in the nation. West Virginia’s defense, on the other hand, had given up 30 or more points in four of their first six games.

But something felt different. The Trickett-led Mountaineers had something to prove.

The game did not start the way Mountaineer fans hoped. It took Baylor all of 59 seconds to march down the field and score on a Petty-to-Coleman special. West Virginia, however, answered with their own drive capped by a 36-yard bomb from Trickett to Kevin White. Baylor scored on two straight drives, but the Mountaineer defense limited the damage to two field goals.

The Mountaineers took their first lead of the game on an Andrew Buie rushing touchdown five minutes into the second quarter. Baylor retook the lead on a 63-yard touchdown strike by Petty less than two minutes later. With 38 minutes left in the game, West Virginia again found itself behind 20-14. After Lambert ended the half with another last-second 54-yard field goal, however, the tide seemed to have turned. West Virginia took a 24-20 lead into halftime.

Cue Country Roads

For fans who missed that game, we (or I) can personally attest that this ended in one of the loudest renditions of “Country Roads” this author has ever heard. Before that, though, Baylor built more drama in Morgantown. With 38 seconds left in the third quarter, Baylor tied the game on a Linwood rushing touchdown. 27 was as high as the meter went for Baylor, however.

Indeed, Trickett threw a pair of touchdown strikes to White and Mario Alford in the fourth quarter to build a 41-27 lead that Baylor simply could not overcome. West Virginia’s defense gave fans a preview of what would follow the next two seasons and blanked the top-ranked offense in the country for the final frame.

Cue Country Road, and cue one of the biggest wins for the Mountaineers since joining the Big XII (and since). That is not to say that the Mountaineers wouldn’t find themselves right back into adversity, but of the Mountaineer Moments in Adversity, this is certainly a good, and recent, victory to remember.