The definition of heartbreak is great sorrow, grief, anguish or an overwhelming distress.
Mountaineer fans have felt those symptoms for a lot of years whether it be Major Harris getting hurt in the National Title Game in 1989, The 1994 Sugar Bowl or the game in December of 2007 that shall remain nameless, just to name a few.
At some point, one would think that the sports pain and agony would turn for the better in Morgantown, and there have been signs over the years that it would.
But those signs were quickly shut down with more sorrow, grief and anguish.
Those exact feelings hit Mountaineer Field this past Saturday when WVU quarterback Will Grier went around the edge, dived and reached for the end zone on what appeared to be the Mountaineers first score against Texas.
Instead, Grier came off the field holding his hand in a funny way to a point where it looked like he was carrying something. That something, unfortunately, was the QB’s finger turned in the complete wrong direction. When fans noticed it on the main scoreboard, a huge “gasp” just overwhelmed Milan Puskar Stadium. It was like someone just walked in and punched everyone right in the stomach and the gasping only increased as Grier went to the locker room before halftime.
As one fan sitting behind me said, “well, we’re done.”
To make matters even worse, the officials reviewed the play, announced Grier had fumbled out of the end zone and that it resulted in a touchback and zero points for the Mountaineers.
So, at that point the score was 0-0 and the game still had to be played.
But not only did the crowd gasp for air, but apparently the players did as well. The defense, which had played pretty well up to that point, started to fold and give up big chunks of yards to Texas. The offense, as expected, struggled. Chris Chugunov (or Chugs as he’s known)relieved Grier, but looked like a deer in the headlights. He was overthrowing receivers frequently and when he did fire a strike, his wideouts didn’t really help him out as they had numerous drops. In fairness, everyone including Chugs played a little better as the game went on.
At halftime, the Longhorns led 14-0, but that deficit felt insurmountable.
It has never been a secret that Grier has been the team’s leader all year and the guy everyone looks to in tough situations. That is even more the case as of today. With him in the locker room and not on the sideline, the team seemed to just fall apart like they were caught up in the heartbreak just like the fans. He was not out there supporting his teammates and without his presence it was like that game could not be won and you could just read that defeat on the player’s faces.
You can question the play-call about running your star–the one player you cannot do without–around the edge from the 1-yard line. Also, what if Justin Crawford doesn’t step out of bounds at the 3-yard line two plays before on a play that was initially ruled a score, but later reversed? Then the injury never happens. Unfortunately, real life is not a DVR and cannot be rewound and hindsight is always 20/20.
It just seems as though WVU’s hindsight always affects a lot of people in the state negatively.
With a huge game looming between WVU and Oklahoma this weekend, the excitement was supposed to be at one of the all-time highs in recent Mountaineer memory. But that excitement has been crushed for a lot of fans. Even if the Mountaineers had pulled the “W” off against Texas, there still would have most likely been a feeling of loss.
What makes things even worse is that Oklahoma State was upset by Kansas State later in the evening which means that WVU would have likely been playing for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game if they knocked off Oklahoma. Not saying that West Virginia would have beaten Texas had Grier stayed healthy, but they most likely would have, and what could have been a chance at a 10-3 finish now most likely looks like a 7-6 mark as Grier will be held out the rest of the season. It was reported he has a dislocated finger on a broken hand. Talk about a double whammy.
The only positive to come from the situation is that ALL Mountaineer fans have been here before so the feeling of heartbreak will not defeat them. They will continue to support their Mountaineers until the next heartbreak feeling.
Let’s just hope before it hits again that the team has done something special to throw a big counter punch at its stomach.