Bitancurt's Moment of Glory Seals Big East Title - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bitancurt's Moment of Glory Seals Big East Title


Tyler Bitancurt has had some head scratchers in his time at West Virginia. There have been instances in which his ability to serve as the team's field goal kicker is called into question.

And then there are moments of glory.

On Thursday, Bitancurt connected on his second game-winning field goal in three years with the Mountaineers. For the second time, his teammates flocked him as he ran aimlessly, full of pure joy for what he had just accomplished on the field.

In a 2009 win over Pittsburgh, he said afterward that he may have broken his sternum as his brothers piled on top of him. Luckily, his sternum remained intact after delivering WVU its second-straight share of the Big East title in Tampa.

"Thankfully some of the guys who were on that field with me at Pitt were on the field here and they knew better," says Bitancurt. "Cody Nutter, he was throwing people off, he said, ‘Get off him, get off.' But yeah, that was fun."

When they did get off, Bitancurt jumped to his feet, screaming, "Let's go!" He composed himself as he looked toward the WVU fans losing their minds in the stands and pointed to his head – a sign that he had not lost his own.

Earlier in the game, with zeroes on the scoreboard, Bitancurt missed a 38-yard attempt that hit off the upright and fell back toward him into end zone.

He could have lost his head and all confidence right there, but the team surrounding him wouldn't let it happen.

"After that first miss, as soon as I got to the sideline, my whole team and my coaches were backing me up and said, ‘Clear that out of your head, you're going to have another chance, don't worry about it,' and that definitely helped," says Bitancurt.

As it turned out, there were three more opportunities for Bitancurt, and he connected on each one with a long of 42 yards. When it came time to step onto the field for what would either win the game or send it to overtime, his teammates kept their confidence in him.

"He did it before," says cornerback Pat Miller, who was a freshman for Bitancurt's first game-winner. "When Stedman Bailey made the catch and we spiked the ball with three seconds left, we knew he was going to make the field goal. We didn't have no doubt. No overtime doubt. We knew we was going to win right then and there."

So, what did Dana Holgorsen have to say to Bitancurt before the big kick? Were there any words of extreme wisdom shared from head coach to kicker?

"No, I ignore those guys," Holgorsen said after the game. "The more you talk to them, the more you screw them up, so I ignored them. I stayed completely away from them."

For a player who is asked to do one thing and one thing only, Bitancurt knows what his routine is and may consider anything that deviates from that routine to be a distraction. With that in mind, Holgorsen's move to leave him alone was welcomed.

"He did the right thing. Stay away," says Bitancurt. "I like it when they just let me do my thing because there's obviously a lot of pressure on the kick already, I don't need a lot of people chirping in my ear."

The message he kept giving himself in his head through a defensive penalty and a USF timeout was to put it through. Forget about Skip Holtz calling a timeout, forget about the fact that you've lined up to kick this damned thing twice and still haven't had a chance to go through with it. Just knock it in when it counts.

And so he did, a 28-yarder to deliver the game and a share of the Big East championship.

"It just felt so good. Such a relief," says Bitancurt. "There's many times in that game that we could have just quit and packed up and gone home, but we didn't. We just kept going, we knew what was on the line and we definitely needed to come out with a win. It was just a relief."

It was another moment of glory for Bitancurt, and another reason to celebrate for the Mountaineers.

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