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...