Another (almost) season in the books for WVU football, the 126th season in team history. And it’s been a real rollercoaster of a season. The Mountaineers opened up 0-1 with a heartbreaking loss to Virginia Tech then went on to win 3 games in a row over ECU DSU, and Kansas. After getting back into the top 25, WVU lost in Fort Worth 31-24 and fell to 3-2. Wins against Texas Tech and Baylor brought them back (again) into the top 25. Then Oklahoma State came to Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers, dropping them out of the top 25 yet again. The Mountaineers then went on to win two games over Iowa State and Kansas State, a 7-3 record for the season, and then disaster struck. Star QB Will Grier broke his finger in the first half of the Texas game. And while Chris Chugunov has played well, WVU lost both games under his leasdership to Texas and Oklahoma. With a record of 7-5, the Mountaineers will play Utah in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26. It was a truly crazy season and these are the top ten plays that changed the Mountaineers fate.
10.Hail Mary TD at the Half vs Kansas State
WVU was coming off a big win against Iowa State heading into Manhattan, Kansas. The Mountaineers played a nice first half of football and had a 21-20 lead with one play left in the first half. Kansas State just had just threw a interception at their own 30 to give WVU one more chance to score. Grier took a snap and pressure was on its way, he avoided many tackles and scrambled and fired a ball into the left corner of the endzone with double zeros on the clock. Ka’Raun White broke free and made the wide open catch to send WVU into the half with a 28-20 lead. This was huge play because WVU had failed to score in the second half and this TD proved to be the game winner in a 28-23 road conference win.
9.Kennedy McKoy First Downburst vs Iowa State
Two plays from this pivotal game made this list, first up is Kennedy McKoy’s first downburst. WVU had just made a huge defensive stop to get the ball back when they were up by 4. McKoy lost yards on his first two rushes and WVU was in trouble of possibly giving ISU the ball back with plenty of time left. The Mountaineers faced a 3rd and 17 and decided to play it safe. They was a HB draw handoff to Mckoy and he ran a counter and bursted for a gain of 17 and a first down. On the next set of downs WVU ran out the clock and won the game to move to 6-3 record and get a big win over ISU, the leader of the Big 12 at the time.
8.Baylor Failed Two Point Conversion Late in 4Q
The Mountaineers were up big in Waco, Texas on the win-less Baylor Bears. Baylor was down 38-13 and stormed back with 23 unanswered points to make it a two point game. Baylor just scored a TD on a broken play to set up a game tying 2 point conversion attempt. The Mountaineer defense, who couldn’t make a play in the 4th quarter, finally made a big one with the game on the line. Charlie Brewer took the snap and rolled right, the coverage by the WVU secondary was exceptional and leaving Brewer with no one to throw to and time for Xavier Preston to charge into the back field and make the tackle. This play resulted in the 38-36 win.
7.WVU Defensive Stand vs Iowa State
The second play from the ISU game to make this list is the defensive stand in the 4th quarter. The Mountaineers had a great start vs Big 12 leader Iowa State. They led 20-3 at the half but ran into trouble in the second half. The Cyclones scored 13 unanswered in the second half and made it a 4 point game. Will Grier threw a interception in the endzone and Iowa State got the ball back. Iowa State had a second and 7 from their 37. ISU’s QB, Kyle Kempt, at his teammates covered by WVU inexperienced defensive backs Hakeem Bailey and Kenny Robinson. But Bailey and Robinson made three straight big plays and forced a turnover on downs to get the ball back. Leading up to play number nine on this list and a 20-16 WVU win.
6.WVU First Half vs ECU
Coming off the tough VT loss the Mountaineers had a lot of questions. Most of those were answered when the Mountaineers were heading into the locker room up 49-3 at the half vs the East Carolina Pirates. Will Grier had 4 touchdowns and was on a historic pace. Justin Crawford had 100+ yards and 2 touchdowns and the defense had only given up 3 points. This obviously was not a Big 12 competitor but the dominance by WVU revealed the true nature of this team. It showed Will Grier was the real deal. It showed David Sills was also a big time target. It showed that Tony Gibson’s defense, who got a lot of criticism after the VT game, was also very talented. All in all, this was exactly what the Mountaineer fans needed after the Virginia Tech loss.
5.Ka’Ruan White Highlight Reel Catch vs Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers were in a big hole vs Texas Tech. The Red Raiders came into Morgantown with victory on their mind and jumped out to a 35-17 lead in the third quarter. Grier threw for a couple TD’s and 2-pt conversion to make the score 35-32. After getting the ball back with 12:06 left in the third quarter the Mountaineers were poised to take the lead. A long drive found WVU with a 1st and 10 at the TTU 17. Grier took the snap and threw a jump ball to Ku’Ruan White who leapt up to make a unreal TD grab. The score gave WVU the lead after 22 unanswered points by WVU. The Mountaineers went on to win 46-35 and climb their way back into the top 25 rankings.
4.Will Grier 4 INTs vs. Oklahoma State
This isn’t a so much a play, but a collection. WVU had a something to prove vs Oklahoma State, both teams were in the top 25. OSU made enough mistakes to basically give West Virginia the game, but Grier made 4 of his own. The timing of the interceptions were rough too. His first was right after J.D King fumbled inside OSU territory to give WVU great field position. One play later, Grier gives the ball right back. His second was after the half. WVU had scored late in the first to make it a 23-10 game and got the ball to start the second half. Grier threw a deep ball that was picked off. The third interception was right after WVU forced another fumble to get the ball back down 30-10. Once again, Grier threw another pick. The last was a killer and the nail in the coffin. WVU scored two non offensive touchdowns to get the score to make it a one score game and then OSU scored a TD. It was 37-24 and Grier threw another INT that gave OSU great field position. They scored on the next drive and made it 44-24 and put the game away. To be fair, the weather was a big factor in Grier’s worst performance of the season, resulting in a WVU loss, 50-39.
3.TCU’s Trick Play TD
The Mountaineers were coming off 3 wins in a row heading into Fort Worth. The 8th ranked Horned Frogs were 4-0 and the big top 25 matchup drew College Gameday into town. Just like the Virginia Tech game both teams got of to a slow start in the first half with TCU taking a 7-3 lead at halftime. Then the Horned Frogs made it 14-3 in the third. Led by Will Grier the Mountaineers stormed back to tie the game at 17. TCU got the ball back after the tie and started to move downfield. On 2nd and 8 from the WVU 48 yard line TCU decided to run a little trickery. Kenny Hill took the snap and handed the ball off to KaVontae Turpin. He faked the run and turned and threw the ball back to Kenny Hill. The Quarterback had his blockers and ran it 48 yards for the score. The Mountaineers fell behind and ended up losing 31-24 in Fort Worth and falling to 3-2.
2.David Sills Drop Vs Virginia Tech
The Virginia Tech game had it all. One of the best College Football games in Mountaineer history ended with a sour taste. After Virginia Tech missed a field goal that would’ve made it a two possession game, the Mountaineers, behind Will Grier, marched down the field looking determined to tie the game at 31. With nine seconds left, it was 2nd and 10 from the Virginia Tech 15 yard line. Grier avoided pressure and with two seconds to spare, fired a pass across the middle of the field. David Sills broke away from his defender and dove for the ball. Sills was is position but the ball sailed through his hands and hit the ground. The Mountaineers went on to loose and this loss changed the season all around. Had Sills made the catch, the game would’ve headed to overtime and the Mountaineers might have pulled it out. A win would have skyrocketed the Mountaineers in the polls and led to a 1-0 start to the season.
1.Will Grier Suffers a Broken Finger vs Texas
Will Grier was putting together one of the best seasons in the country and in WVU history. He had 34 TD passes in 10, but really 9, games (He sat out about two combined halves). WVU headed into the Texas game with a 7-3 record and were in the top 25. The score was tied in the second quarter when WVU was driving. The Mountaineers were inside the ten when Grier saw some room and decided to make a break for it. He got hit at the one and lost the ball into the endzone for a touchback. That was the least of WVU’s worries as Grier came out of the pile with a middle finger that was bent sideways at a sickening angle. The injury led to WVU losing the last two games of the season and finishing 7-5, a disappointing record considering they started 7-3.