The countdown to the 2019 West Virginia football season has begun. In the days leading up to their Aug. 31 opener against James Madison, we’re going back in time to revisit some of the greatest players, moments and memories in Mountaineer history.
No. 31: Steve Hathaway’s 31 solo tackles in 1983
Linebacker Steve Hathaway was a mainstay on the West Virginia defense in the 1980s. While he didn’t contribute a whole lot in his first year with the Mountaineers, he would grow throughout his time in Morgantown to become one of the top linebackers on the squad.
He capped off his career with a senior season in which he had 31 solo tackles in 1983. for Don Nehlen. The Mountaineers would finish 8-3 that season, and finish with a win over Kentucky in the Hall of Fame Classic.
No. 32: Ryan Clarke, running back 2009-2012
Ryan Clarke was a jack-of-all-trades with the Mountaineers, providing production in every facet of the game.
While he shared backfields with some of the most dynamic players in school history, they likely couldn’t have been so successful without Clarke who served as a fullback for West Virginia in his tenure. He would contribute a total of 16 touchdowns in his career, all of which would come in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also was utilized on special teams and defense, amassing 9 tackles and 49 kick return yards.
No. 33: Quincy Wilson’s “The Run”
With two minutes on the clock in the home of the Hurricanes, it was all about the “Q.”
The unranked West Virginia Mountaineers were making their push to upset the second-ranked ‘Canes hoping to put together a go-ahead drive as time ran down. On 3rd and 13 on the Miami 34 yard line, Rasheed Marshall dumped the ball short to Quincy Wilson, who was able to put some moves on to get to the sideline.
With a burst of speed on the left side, Wilson was on his way, but he still had Brandon Meriweather to beat. Instead of making another move, he decided to flatten his defender — opening up a clear path straight to paydirt.
No. 34: James “Dirty” Davis’s 34 sack yards vs. ECU in 2000
Defense wins games, especially when James “Dirty” Davis is on the field.
One of the fiercest Mountaineer defenders of the BIG EAST era, Davis wreaked havoc in a non-conference game against East Carolina in 2000 when the Pirates visited Mountaineer field. ECU quarterback David Garrard would get sacked 5 times throughout the matchup, 4 of those coming from Davis, pushing the Pirates back a total of 34 yards.
West Virginia dominated the Pirates for the 42-24 victory.
No. 35: Owen Schmitt, fullback 2005-2007
Who could forget the “Runaway Beer Truck?” One of the most unforgettable Mountaineers made his mark at West Virginia paving the way for some of the best backfield players in program history.
His most memorable moment of course comes from the 2008 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. On their own 43 yard line, Pat White would hand Schmitt the ball on a trap play. After making some tacklers miss, he would bust down the sideline all by himself for the 57-yard touchdown.
No. 36: Steve Slaton scores 36 points vs. Louisville in 2005
Steve Slaton was a big piece of one of the most dynamic West Virginia backfields ever. He, along with guys like Pat White, Noel Devine and Owen Schmitt would terrorize BIG EAST defenses for several years.
Slaton made a personal statement in 2005 against Louisville. In a nail-biting barn burner at Mountaineer Field, Slaton would put 36 of West Virginia’s 46 points on the board via his 6 touchdowns on both land and air. The Mountaineers would win that one 46-44.
No. 37: Tom Keane, quarterback 1946-1947
Tom Keane is among one of the most unique Mountaineers to ever be inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. A native of Wheeling, Keane started his career as the quarterback for Ohio State, where he contributed to their 1944 undefeated, co-national championship team. He would then begin serving in the United States Navy, putting his athletic career on hold for nearly two years.
When he returned home, he began his time at WVU, joining the football team. He spent two seasons in Morgantown before getting drafted by the L.A. Rams in 1948. He was inducted into the
No. 38: Phil Brady, punter 2004-2005
Phil Brady punted the football 102 times for the Mountaineers, but it was a different use of his feet that would etch him in West Virginia football history.
With 1:45 left in the 2006 Sugar Bowl, WVU was leading the Georgia Bulldogs 38-35. The Mountaineers were able to get the ball just over midfield before failing to convert on a third down, which brought on their punting squad.
When the ball was snapped, Brady wound up like he was punting to Georgia, but he suddenly changed gear. With a wide-open field, Brady took off for 10 yards and a first down, sealing the Mountaineers’ victory.
No. 39: Josh Lambert’s school-record 39 attempted field goals in 2014
Josh Lambert made a name for himself among Mountaineer fans in 2014, mostly because they heard his name so much that season. As a sophomore, he would be called upon 39 times to take a field goal, and he would convert 30 of those times. Many of those would be from over 40 yards, and some would even be over 50 — including a 54-yard make at home against Oklahoma.
No. 40: Fulton Walker, cornerback and kick returner 1977-1980
Martinsburg native Fulton Walker not only bolstered the West Virginia defense, but was also one of the Mountaineers’ premier special teams threats in the late 1970s.
After he finished his time as a Mountaineer, Walker moved on to an NFL career in which he appeared in two Super Bowls — XVII and XIX. He would go on to break several special teams records in both which are still unbroken today.