Sunday, August 30, 2009

WV Sunday

Pies and Pints.
The Gauley.
Cathedral Falls
Glen Ferris.

Sometimes I forget just how beautiful West Virginia can be.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Quincy Wilson Play

WVU started the 2003 season with high hopes. Rich Rodriquez and the Mountaineers finished the 2002 campaign on a roll. The head coach's revamped offense was finally clicking and the sky was the limit. Then the season started...

The Wisconsin Badgers visited Morgantown for the season opener. It wasn't pretty. The Badgers left town with a 24-17 win. After beating up on WVU's perennial cupcake, the East Carolina Pirates, WVU lost at home to Cincinnati. Next up was a trip to the DC area for a battle with the Maryland Terrapins. WVU forgot to show up and were sent back to Morgantown with their coonskin cap tails between their legs and a 1-3 record.

Up next was a trip to Miami, Florida to face the number two ranked Miami Hurricanes. Side Note: I just google searched their 2003 roster and found the following players: Ken Dorsey (two time Heisman Trophy finalist), Frank Gore (starting running back for the San Francisco 49ers), Willis Mcgahee (starting running back for the Baltimore Ravens), Najeh Davenport (former Pittsburgh Steelers running back), Ed Reed (2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year), Sean Taylor (former Washington Redskins cornerback who was recently shot and killed as his home was robbed), Clinton Portis (starting tailback for the Washington Redskins), Kellen Winslow (tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jeremy Shockey (tight end for the New Orleans Saints) and so on and so on. You get the point. These guys were a frickin' minor league team for the NFL. WVU was doomed, or so it seemed.

WVU jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter and was happy going into halftime with a 10-10 tie. They were keeping up with the number two team in the country... on their turf! Early in the fourth quarter the Hurricanes mounted a 19-10 lead. WVU followed that up with a field goal and cut the Miami lead to six. A chance is all you can ask for, right? After a few changes of possession, the WVU offense took the field for the final time. On a third and thirteen with two minutes and thirteen seconds remaining WVU quarterback Rasheed Marshall threw a screen pass to Mountaineer running back Quincy Wilson...

WVU takes the lead 20-19 with perhaps the greatest individual effort I've ever seen on a football field. He absolutely ruined 6 Miami defenders. Do me a favor and watch it again. It's worth it. The best part is at the end when he obliterates Brandon Meriweather (starting strong safety for the New England Patriots). I watched this game with my roommate and one of my best friends at our house in Morgantown. During the play our living room turned into a 3 man mosh pit. I kid you not. I remember holding up our TV so it didn't fall over during the fraycus. It was as much utter pandemonium as three 25 year old men could cause. After we regained our compsure we realized there was still more than two minutes remaining and we were indeed the Mountaineers. Miami ended up driving the length of the field and kicked a field goal as time expired to win the game 22-20. It hurt. It stung. We were so close. What a brutal way to lose a game to the #2 team in the country.

The pain from this loss quickly expired, however. This game propelled the Mountaineers to a seven game win streak and a birth in a New Year's Day bowl game. Quincy Wilson single handedly saved the 2003 season. WVU fans across the Mountain State portray Quincy Wilson as a bit of a folk hero to this day. Some people even name their cats after him...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

1993 Continued

WVU had just taken down 4th ranked Miami in the "Biggest Game in Mountaineer History." The only thing that stood in their way of the Sugar Bowl and a chance to play for the national championship was a trip to Chestnut Hill to face Glenn Foley and the Boston College Eagles.

This game took place on Black Friday... the day after Thanksgiving. I remember heading to my grandmother's house with my Dad to watch the game. The rest of my family headed to the mall to do their traditional shopping. The WVU/BC game started at 4 pm and was being aired on ESPN. However ESPN was broadcasting a Maryland/Georgetown basketball game that went into double overtime and ran well passed 4. We missed the entire first quarter of the game. I remember being as frustrated as I'd ever been. Luckily the entire first half was boring. WVU was being outplayed, but their defense never broke, it only bent. WVU took a 3-0 lead into halftime.

The second half started poorly for WVU. Boston College QB Glenn Foley was picking the Mountaineer defense apart and eventually took advantage of the same types of opportunities they couldn't capitalize on in the first half. Early in the 4th quarter BC Tight End Pete Mitchell scored on a twenty yard pass that gave Boston College a 14-3 lead. Was WVU really going to lose their final game of the season? Was an undefeated regular season going down the drain at the hands of Boston frickin' College? The Mountaineers needed a spark... enter WVU back-up QB Darren Studstill.

The offense suddenly came alive. Studstill engineered a drive that ended with a Rodney Woodard touchdown with just over six minutes left. WVU went for 2, but couldn't convert. With a score of 14-9, the WVU defense needed to stop BC's high powered offense one more time. BC was moving the ball down the field. With each first down WVU's national championship hopes faded. And then it happened.With 2:15 left in the game, BC running back David Greene took the handoff and ran around the right side. WVU defensive lineman Steve Perkins reached in and punched the ball out of Greene's hand. WVU cornerback Mike Logan picked up the ball and returned the fumble ten yards to the WVU 45 yardline. That's the break the Mountaineers needed.

Darren Studstill manufactured another miraculous drive to the Boston College 20 yard line. With a minute and eight seconds remaining Jack Flemming made the following call: "Studstill, firing to the endzone AND A CATCH IN THE ENDZONE, TOUCHDOWN WEST VIRGINIA as the ball is pulled in by Ed Hill!!! Tightly covered, Hill gave the defensive guy a little push, he pulls it in and the Mountaineers take a 15-14 lead... HOLY SMOKES!!!!" That's right, WVU scored a TD with 1:08 left in the game. They tacked on a 2 point conversion to make sure WVU couldn't lose on a Boston College fieldgoal.

The game ended when WVU's Mike Logan claimed his second turnover of the game. Glenn Foley tossed up a hail mary as time expired and the experienced WVU cornerback intercepted the pass in the endzone. WVU had done it! They'd completed their second undefeated regular season in five years.

There's no need to mention the Sugar Bowl, however. :)

Rainbow @ Power Park

Last night my wife and I attended a minor league baseball game at Appalachian Power Park here in Charleston. Unfortunately it started raining as soon as we arrived and the game was eventually canceled. The bright spot of the evening was this rainbow. The end of it was just on the other side of the right field fence.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Small Break from Football

Yesterday morning a few coworkers and I headed to New River Gorge for a white water rafting trip. We boarded a bus at Hawks Nest State Park and drove 25 minutes or so to a little town called Fayetteville in the heart of West Virginia. We were the guest of the NCNR (National Committee for the New River) and the NARR (North American River Runners). The NARR is a commercial rafting company that specializes in rafting tours of the New and Gauley Rivers. The NCNR was on a tour of the entire river, from North Carolina to West Virginia.

We entered the river on the outskirts of Fayetteville. I'd say it was close to 7 or 8 nautical river miles from the famous New River Gorge Bridge (the second highest bridge in the world). We passed through a few "warm-up" rapids that were appropriately named. We were even allowed to jump out of the boat and float through a set of rapids that were anything but dangerous, but interesting enough to get some adrenaline pumping. We stopped for a quick lunch and then headed back in the river.

The real fun was approaching. For the next two hours we paddled through a series of rapids that some would consider class threes and fours. Rafters have a scale that ranks their rapids anywhere between a class one and a class six. A class one rapid is the smallest, requiring little skill. A class six rapid is the most dangerous. According to our tour guide, you have a 50% chance to come out of a class six rapid alive. So, needless to say, class three and four rapids were highly entertaining to me.

After passing under the New River Gorge Bridge and a quick stop to enjoy the festivities at "Jump Rock" (yeah, I jumped) we came to the end of our trip. Our raft was then hooked up to a motorboat and escorted the next 4 miles back to Hawks Nest State Park where we took an air tram up the hill to the lodge.

My first rafting trip was an enjoyable one. We all came away unscathed... unless you count the ridiculous sunburns and sore muscles. So if anyone's interested in taking a rafting trip, let me know. I'd be more than willing to do it again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2006 Sugar Bowl

This touchdown was the first of four for WVU in the first half of the 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl. In fact, WVU raced out to a 28-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter. I enjoyed the show. I celebrated with my friends as the Mountaineers built this lead in the Georgia Dome, but deep down inside I wondered if a 28 point lead was enough. My suspicions were confirmed as WVU went into the half up by only ten... 31-21.

Georgia was never able to take the lead from the Mountaineers, though. WVU pulled out a 38-35 victory, but it took everything in WVU arsenal to protect the lead. WVU didn't commit a single turnover, Pat White had a nearly perfect completion percentage, Steve Slaton ran for over 200 yards and WVU punter Phil Brady executed a key fake punt that helped ensure WVU kept the ball from the Georgia offense late in the 4th quarter. WVU played a perfect game.

The scene in the Georgia Dome was amazing. Country Roads was being sang by WVU fans all over the stadium. It was an instant party. Here's a picture of my friends and I after the game. You can tell by the look on our faces we'd just witness something pretty special.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday's West Virginia Word


Monday, August 10, 2009

WVU vs Miami - - 1993 Style

WVU banged and scraped their way to a 9-0 record in 1993. Included in that stretch was a 14-13 victory over Virginia Tech and a 36-34 win over Louisville that had me and the rest of Mountaineer Nation thanking their lucky stars. The tenth game of the season brought "The U" to Mountaineer Field.

The date was November 20, 1993... Miami rolled into Morgantown ranked 4th in the country with their only loss being to Florida State (the number one team in the country and eventual national champions). WVU was ranked 9th and felt slightly disrespected. West Virginia was ready to prove to the nation that they too could play with the big boys.

I remember walking to the stadium that day with my parents. It was cool, but it wasn't cold... probably 35 degrees or so at game time. We parked in the church parking lot that's currently beside Taco Bell on Pattesson Drive. It was a decent hike to the stadium, but I didn't mind a bit. The buzz in the crisp, clean air encouraged me to enjoy every waking moment of this day. The migration was memorable.

In front of 70,222 (still a Mountaineer Field record for attendance) WVU battled to a 3-0 halftime lead. I remember watching the Miami players act like they'd never been cold before. They had benches on their sideline called "Hot Seats" that had heaters inside of them. GIVE ME A BREAK! My parents must have been from the same mold as the Miami players, however. They left at halftime because they were cold and tired of dealing with the crowd. The biggest game in Mountaineer history and they left at halftime. Me and the other 70, 219 fans that didn't leave were in for a treat!

Miami received the second half kickoff and marched down the field and scored a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead. Apparently the halftime adjustments paid off. WVU had a few tricks up their sleeves as well. Late in the third quarter a 3 yard pass to WVU fullback Rodney Woodard from Jake "the Snake" Kelchner gave the Mountaineers a 10-7 lead. Miami answered back quickly with an unbelievable play. Quarterback Ryan Collins rolled right, dodged a sack, rolled left and threw a fifty yard strike to receiver AC Tellison. Tellison was pushed out of bounds at the 4 yard-line. My jaw fell to the floor. Three plays later Miami scored to take a 14-10 lead early in the 4th quarter.

WVU took the Miami kickoff and quickly punted the ball back to the Hurricanes. Luckily the Mountaineer defense stood tall and forced Miami to punt. WVU receiver Mike Baker returned the Miami punt 20 yards to near midfield. Three plays or so later WVU was on the Miami 19 yard line. This set the scene for perhaps the biggest play in Mountaineer history.

With six minutes and 13 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Jake Kelchner handed the ball to Mountaineer running back Robert Walker and he waltzed untouched into the endzone. It was pandemonium! I celebrated with people I'd never met before. It was crazy! Over 70,000 people erupted into a frenzy. WVU had taken a 17-14 lead.

Miami had one more possession, but the Mountaineer defense stifled them. The hurricanes gave the ball back to WVU and the Mountaineers ran the clock out and held on for the 17-14 win. WVU students charged the field. I was amazed as they tore down the goalposts and thought to myself, "Stay and watch this. Don't leave yet. This doesn't happen often." I didn't think this WVU Football season could get any better.

Little did I know...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A WVU Football Memory

So I'm sitting here on a Saturday night pining for the start of football season. Tomorrow brings us the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio that marks the start of the NFL's preseason. Six months of professional and college football are just around the corner! I thought it would never get here.

Because the NFL preseason just isn't enough, over the next month or so I'm going to bring you some of the most memorable football moments I've experienced during the last 25 years or so. As the start of football season gets closer and closer, time moves slower and slower. Perhaps this will speed things up. If it doesn't work for you, maybe it will work for me. :)


It was October of 1994 and WVU was following up their 1993 undefeated regular season with a dismal 2-4 start. The seventh game of the season was at Pitt and nobody knew what to expect. Pitt was having a difficult season as well. However, when these two teams get together, throw out the record books. It gets crazy.

WVU raced to a huge lead. It was something like 32-10. It was an absolute blast. I remember being giddy and celebrating over and over with each WVU touchdown scored. Nothing could go wrong. And then something happened. WVU collapsed in the 4th quarter. Pitt came back to take the lead 41-40 with about 35 seconds left. I was devastated. How could they have let that huge lead slip away?!?!?

WVU received the Pitt kickoff and returned the ball to their own 30 yard line. WVU's quarterback Chad Johnston ran for a ten yard game on the first play of the drive. And then this happened:

Chad Johnston connected with Zach Abraham for the game winning 60 yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left. I lost it. I happened to be watching this game at my grandmother's house with my aunt and my two-year-old cousin. I erupted with a scream and nearly scared my little cousin out of her wits. I remember running outside to tell my grandfather, who was mowing his lawn, what had happened. It was the first time I'd acted like a completely nutty sports fan.

WVU won the game 47-41. They won four of the next five games and finished with a 7-5 regular season record. They received a bid to the Carquest Bowl where they lost to the University of South Carolina. I remember Don Nehlen (former WVU Head Football Coach for those of you unfamiliar) pointing to this play as the moment that turned the season around.

In the overall scheme of things this play really didn't mean much. It was during a forgettable season with losses to Rutgers, Maryland and Virginia Tech, but this moment is one of my all-time favorites. It taught me a little bit about being a WVU fan... there's no safe lead and it's not over until there's zeros on the clock.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Man Vs. Food

Adam Richman is a food enthusiast to say the least. This one-time actor and Yale graduate has a TV show on the Travel Channel called "Man Vs. Food". Richman takes a camera crew with him across the country and samples cuisines from different regions. When I say "samples cuisines," I use the term lightly.

This weekend I watched him eat an insane stack of pumpkin pancakes from Portland, Oregon, a crazy huge cold-cut sandwich from Columbus, Ohio and a 72 ounce steak in Amarillo, Texas. It's not always about quantity with Adam, though. He's also into spicy hot foods. I've seen him eat habenero fritters (batter mixed with habenero peppers and then deep fried) like they were ice cream. And yeah, he got his picture on the Wall of Flame for tackling that feat.

So if you get the chance, check the fellow out. A new episode comes on every Wednesday night at 10. Repeats are on all the time. It's worth a half an hour of your time.