WVU Stayed Active, Positive During Lightning Delays - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Stayed Active, Positive During Lightning Delays


Applause rang out from the WVU locker room and the biggest question of the evening had an answer without any words being said. The Mountaineers had won their first game of the season despite leaving 14 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Within seconds, the final score was announced and John Denver sang out through storm-drenched speakers to the scattered spectators left in the stands.

The 34-13 final didn't tell much of the story in a game delayed four hours and 22 minutes through two different stoppages. While the fans ran from the rain and the band made repeated trips to and from its seating section, the players were left to their own devices.

"All kinds of stuff," head coach Dana Holgorsen said of what his team did during the delays. "We had Xbox games going on, we had pool games going on, we had some guys playing cards in the corner, had some TVs going on, watching the weather channel, watching the SMU-Texas A&M game, sitting in the weight room. That's about all we can do. We thought about putting in some study hall hours, but the academic people weren't here or we would have."

Meanwhile, Marshall was confined to the visitor's locker room.

The weight room housed lightning refugees in the form of media, mascots, cheerleaders and WVU players and staff. Bruce Irvin kept himself loose on a stair master and a stationary bike. The Mountaineers were able to stay comfortable and to some extent entertained, while the Herd likely burned the batteries on their iPods searching for sanity.

"We were doing a little bit of everything," says senior linebacker Najee Goode. "Marshall has that small locker room and we've got the player lounge. They were in a confined space and everything looked a little dimmer for them. It was a huge advantage."

Perhaps the biggest advantage for WVU was not so much what was happening off the field during the delay but instead what had occurred on it just prior to the storm clearing the stadium.

Lightning struck for the Mountaineers in the third quarter in the form of a Tavon Austin kickoff return that caused such an uproar from the fans that there would have been no way to hear the thunder that apparently filled the skies at just about the same time.

Austin sat down on the team bench at just about the same instant that the public address announcer made it known that the game had been suspended.

"It was a big momentum builder even though we went in after that," says senior offensive lineman Don Barclay. "It just kind of lifted everyone up and gave everyone life and energy and we went out and did better the next time we went out. If he doesn't run that back, we've got the ball going for another drive and we're only up by seven going into the rain delay."

After a quick tease in which the two teams came out for a brief warm-up period and had just gotten ready to kickoff again, another storm cell forced the Mountaineers back to their video games and the Herd back to solitary confinement.

In total, the first delay lasted three hours and three minutes before football came back. But each team had seen the radar reports and were aware of more impending weather that could lead to another trip to the locker room. WVU knew if it could get a quick score, it would change the complexion of the game.

"When that weather hit, I know they were still sitting there anxious to come back and play," says Goode. "When we started making more plays on offense, we were like, if we punch it in, we could take the pride out of them and take the anxiety away from them."

After the Mountaineers defense held Marshall to a three-and-out, the offense went on an 11-play, 54-yard drive ending in a Vernard Roberts touchdown. Immediately after, lightning struck and WVU headed into the second delay with a three-touchdown lead.

Ultimately, the score is what made it so the decision had to be made to call the game.

The players hadn't eaten since leaving the hotel early in the day, so it was no surprise to see Geno Smith and Keith Tandy walk into the interview room with whole pizzas in hand.

Now they face a short week before playing Norfolk State in Morgantown on Saturday, and perhaps for their second win the Mountaineers will actually have to play 60 minutes.

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