Countdown to Kickoff: Days 60-51

WVU Football

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. 51: 51-yard field goal by Pat McAfee vs. Pitt in 2006

Pat McAfee is making his third appearance in this year’s #CountdownToKickoff. This time, his 51-yard make against Pitt in 2006 is making the list.

In 2006, the Mountaineers took the trip up I-79 to face their rival Panthers in Pittsburgh. The two teams went score-for-score in the first half, maintaining a close fight into half-time. Whenever Pitt scored, West Virginia would answer, and vice-versa. It would even take some tough playmaking to keep either team in the fight, which is where McAfee comes into the picture.

With the game tied at 14 in the second quarter, the Mountaineers failed to convert on a third down, which set up a long field goal attempt. Coach Bill Stewart would call on Pat McAfee to come out and convert, which he did — from 51 yards out.

The Mountaineers would be victorious in this edition of the Backyard Brawl, earning the 45-27 win at the final buzzer.

No. 52: 52-yard field goal by Pat McAfee vs. Cincinnati in 2008

The longest field goal of the 2008 season came off the foot of Pat McAfee against Cincinnati.  

McAfee’s 52-yard boot on the final play of regulation tied the score at 20-20 and sent the game to overtime.

But despite another McAfee field goal on the opening possession of overtime, the Mountaineers couldn’t prevail. They lost 26-23 on a Tony Pike touchdown pass to Kazeem Alli.

No. 53: Paul Woodside’s 53-yard field goal vs. Syracuse in 1984

A 53-yard field goal by Paul Woodside helped WVU earn a 20-10 victory over rival Syracuse midway through the 1984 campaign. The win was part of a four-game winning streak.

Woodside made a 55-yard kick earlier that season in a victory over Louisville, which is tied for the longest converted field goal in program history

No. 54: 54-yard field goal by Josh Lambert vs. Oklahoma in 2014

Josh Lambert booted a 54-yard field goal in a 45-33 loss to Oklahoma during the 2014 season. It was the longest kick of his career – but only for a few weeks.

Lambert also nailed a 55-yarder the following month to secure a 37-34 win over Texas Tech on the road. That 55-yard attempt is tied for the longest converted field goal in Mountaineer history. Paul Woodside also made a 55-yarder in 1984 against Louisville.

No. 55: Gary Stills, linebacker 1996-1998

WVU fans will remember Gary Stills as one of the program’s most dominant linebackers of the 1990s.

Stills, who wore the No. 55 when he played for WVU from 1996-98, racked up more than 150 tackles in his Mountaineer career, as well as 26 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

The New Jersey native was a third round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. He recorded 190 total tackles in his NFL career, which featured stints with the Chiefs, Ravens and Rams.

His sons, Darius and Dante Stills, lined up side-by-side at times on the defensive line for the Mountaineers last season. Dante Stills also wears the No. 55 jersey.

No. 56: 56-yard score by Bo Orlando vs. Maryland in 1987

One year before West Virginia’s unbeaten regular season in 1988, defensive back Bo Orlando recorded his first touchdown in gold-and-blue.

It came during a matchup with Maryland in 1987 – a 56-yard score, in a matchup WVU lost by five points.  

A few weeks later, Orlando returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown against East Carolina. West Virginia won that game 49-0, snapping a three-game losing skid during the 1987 season.

After the 1988 campaign, Orlando was drafted by the Houston Oilers and began an NFL career that spanned a decade.

No. 57: Kevin Koken

Kevin Koken wore No. 57 when he started at center for the 1988 team that played for the national championship.

Koken was a captain for Don Nehlen’s squad during that memorable campaign. He also collected all-ECAC first-team honors and was named an All-America honorable mention by the Associated Press.

No. 58: Career field goals made by Pat McAfee

Before enjoying an eight-year career as a punter in the NFL, Pat McAfee became one of the best kickers in WVU football history.

McAfee made 58 field goal attempts in his career, which was good for second all-time when he played his final game for the Mountaineers during the 2008 season.

Josh Lambert, who played from 2013-16, is now second all-time in field goals made at West Virginia with 69. The program’s leader is Paul Woodside, who hit 74 field goals from 1981-84.

No. 59: David Mayfield’s 59-yard interception at Maryland in 1991

An interception returned 59 yards by West Virginia’s David Mayfield helped cap an emphatic 37-7 victory over Maryland on Sept. 22, 1991.

Mayfield’s interception late in the game set up West Virginia’s final touchdown – a one-yard run by Jim Freeman – and was one of two second half takeaways that led to Mountaineer points.

A product of Morgantown High School, Mayfield had seven interceptions in his WVU career. He also earned the Kennedy Award – given to West Virginia’s top high school football player – as a senior for the Mohigans.

Mayfield’s contributions against the Terps capped a three-game winning streak for WVU, its longest of the 1991 season. West Virginia finished that campaign with a 6-5 record.

No. 60: Skyler Howard’s 60 career touchdown passes

During his career with the Mountaineers from 2014-16, quarterback Skyler Howard racked up an impressive 60 passing touchdowns.

When his career in gold-and-blue concluded, Howard was second all-time in passing touchdowns at WVU, trailing only Geno Smith, who threw a remarkable 98 touchdown passes from 2009-12.

Howard’s 60 TD passes are one more than Marc Bulger’s career total, and four more than Pat White’s. Both of those former WVU signal callers are Mountaineer hall of famers.

Howard is continuing to find success on the gridiron overseas. Last month, he led the Obic Seagulls to a third-consecutive league title in Japan.

Will Grier ultimately surpassed Howard for second on West Virginia’s all-time passing touchdowns list last season. Grier concluded his Mountaineer career with 71 touchdown throws.

Previous countdown moments: 100-91 – 90-81 – 80-7170-61

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