Countdown to Kickoff: Days 30-21


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. 21: 21-13 final score over Gonzaga in the 1922 East-West Christmas Classic

In December of 1922, 19 players made the trip to San Diego, California, for WVU’s first-ever bowl game appearance. The Mountaineers faced Gonzaga on Christmas Day, one victory away from a 10-win season.

A 12-yard touchdown run from Nick Nardacci and Russ Meredith’s pick-six put WVU up 14-0 a the half. The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Mountaineers held on for the 21-13 victory.

The bowl win over Gonzaga capped a 10-0-1 season for West Virginia in its year under head coach Clarence Spears. In that 1922 season, WVU also shut out seven of its 11 opponents. 

West Virginia’s next postseason appearance didn’t come until 1938.

No. 22: Jim Braxton’s 22 points vs. Cincinnati in 1969

Jim Braxton played both running back and tight end for the Mountaineers in the late 1960s, and he excelled at both.

He kicked off his junior season with a bang as a running back, rushing for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns against Cincinnati, while also catching a receiving touchdown. Braxton would notch 22 total points in that game, bolstering West Virginia to a 57-11 victory over the Bearcats.

Braxton would go on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills, paving the way for OJ Simpson in the backfield.

No. 23: Points scored by Ira Errett Rodgers in 1919 vs. Bethany

Ira Errett Rodgers is one of just three former WVU football players to have his number retired by the program. On Oct. 25, 1919, he accounted for 23 points in a victory over Bethany.

Rodgers grew up in Bethany, W.Va. and racked up 153 yards rushing in the contest. Later that year, he’d become West Virginia’s first consensus All-American.

24. Artie Owens, 1972-1975

After a record-setting high school career in Pennsylvania, Artie Owens racked up 2,648 career rushing yards and 13 career 100-yard rushing games at WVU, both of which were program records at the time. 

The standout running back played in the Peach Bowl in 1972 and 1975 and was named the Ira E. Rodgers Award winner in his final season. 

Owens was also a track star at WVU, and he even competed in a track meet on the same day as the Gold-Blue spring game. 

After his collegiate days, Owens played for the Chargers, Bills and Patriots in the NFL from 1976-1980. He also played one season in the USFL. 

No. 25: Rex Bumgardner, 1947-1946

One of West Virginia’s own won an NFL championship in the 1950s after a stint at WVU. 

A native of Clarksburg, Baumgardner attended WVU and played football for two years after serving in the military during World War II. He was a halfback under coach Bill Kern at West Virginia, leading the team in rushing in 1947. 

Following that season, Baumgardner began his professional career. He played for the Buffalo Bills, then a member of the All-America Football Conference, before joining the Cleveland Browns in 1950. 

Under head coach Paul Brown, Cleveland advanced to the NFL Championship against the Los Angeles Rams in 1950. Baumgardner scored a late touchdown in that game to help the Browns secure a comeback victory to win the title. 

Baumgardner would play in two more NFL Championship games in each of the following two seasons.

No. 26: Renaldo Turnbull’s 26 sack yards vs. Louisville in 1989

Renaldo Turnbull is one of the most memorable defenders of the 1980s, and his memorable performance against Louisville is helping us get one step closer to some WVU football.

On the road at Louisville, Turnbull had 4 sacks, pushing the Cardinals back a total of 26 yards — a valuable chunk of real estate in a close game. The contest would be sealed with 1:26 left on the clock, when Eugene Napoleon would break one for a 46-yard touchdown.

No. 27: Scooter Berry racks up 27 sack yards vs. Maryland (2010)

Former WVU defensive lineman Scooter Berry was a mammoth athlete — and he came up with a mammoth performance on Sept. 18, 2010.

Berry recorded two sacks for 27 yards to help the Mountaineers defeat the Terps 31-17, improving the team’s record to 3-0 to open the season.

West Virginia concluded the 2010 season with a 9-4 mark, and Berry finished his senior year with four sacks.

No. 28: Steve Dunlap’s record-setting 28 tackles at Boston College (1974)

Steven Dunlap will be inducted into the 2019 West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 14, but it was decades ago that earned his place in program history.

On Nov. 2, 1974, Dunlap tallied a record-setting 28 tackles vs. Boston College. However, due to a 35-3 final score in favor of the opponent, Dunlap’s historic performance was overlooked on that day.

Now 45 years later, that historic outing will be forever be ingrained in WVU football’s history when Dunlap officially enters the school’s Hall of Fame.

No. 29: Steve Hathaway’s 29 sack yards vs. Rutgers in 1983

Linebacker Steve Hathaway was a formidable defender for the Mountaineers, which is why he is making a second appearance on our Countdown.

Hathaway had a career game in his senior season against Rutgers in 1983. At Mountaineer Field, he made sure that the Scarlet Knights wouldn’t even get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands: with 2.5 sacks, Hathaway would push his opponents back 29 yards. The Mountaineers would coast to their eighth victory of the season, 35-7.

No. 30: Justin Arndt, linebacker 2013-2016

Homegrown linebacker Justin Arndt wore No. 30 during his WVU career. He played from 2013-16 and, like most local athletes who wear the gold-and-blue, he was a fan favorite. 

Arndt enjoyed his most productive season in 2016 as a senior. He appeared in all 13 games, recording 84 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. He also forced a fumble. 

Arndt began his Mountaineer career as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship after winning the Nickolich Award. He made 47 career appearances for the Mountaineers, recording 102 total tackles.

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