The countdown to the 2019 West Virginia football season has begun. In the days leading up to their August 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 71: West Virginia defeats Lehigh 71-0 in 1944
On November 11, 1944, Lehigh came to Morgantown and were served with a 71-0 rout at the hands of the Mountaineers. Interestingly enough, Lehigh was held to just -22 yards while West Virginia blew through for 541 yards. The Mountaineers had earned their fourth win in a row, elevating their record to 5-2-1, awaiting a season-ending matchup with Kentucky the following week.
No. 72: Marshall Mills, wideout from 1972-1974
Tennessee native Marshall Mills was one of West Virginia’s most prolific wide receivers in the 1970s. Making his debut for the Mountaineers in 1972, the speedy Mills would lead his team in receiving for the first two of his seasons in Morgantown.
The 1975 NFL Draft saw six Mountaineers get drafted, including Mills, who would be selected by the Falcons in the 10th round. Unfortunately for the Mountaineer star, he would not see any action in the pros.
No. 73: Quincy Wilson’s 73-yard rushing touchdown vs. ECU in 2002
Quincy Wilson got a ton of notoriety for his 1473-yard, 12-touchdown senior season in 2003, which included a nearly game-winning touchdown in a road loss against the Miami Hurricanes. But even before all that, Wilson was still putting up numbers and driving the Mountaineers’ rushing game.
In 2002, the 2-1 Mountaineers hoped to put another one in the win column against East Carolina in a week four non-conference matchup. With the game still in reach for the Pirates in the third quarter, Wilson punched one through the ECU defense for 73 yards and a touchdown, putting WVU up 34-14 after the PAT. The Mountaineers would end up finishing that one out 37-17 at the final buzzer.
No. 74: Tavon Austin’s 74-yard rushing touchdown vs. Oklahoma in 2012
It is always fireworks abound when Oklahoma comes to Morgantown, and that was especially true in the first Big 12 conference matchup between the two programs in 2012.
After starting the season with high hopes and a five-game win streak, the Mountaineers would drop their next four matchups — all of which were in the Big 12. This set the stage for the visiting 12th-ranked Sooners to come to town, a team still with major BCS bowl aspirations. In order to come out of this matchup with a win, the Mountaineers would have to inject some life into their offense and put up a lot of points.
Insert Tavon Austin, a senior wide receiver from Maryland. Austin spent his high school career not as a receiver, but as a running back — something that Coach Dana Holgorsen would tap into for that matchup.
Austin would absolutely explode during that game, stockpiling a school-record 344 rushing yards on 21 carries (that’s an average of 16.4 yards per carry), while tacking on a pair of touchdowns. His work on the ground is highlighted by a 74-yard rush in the third quarter to cut the Sooner lead to just a touchdown.
The Mountaineers would hold on to the lead late into the fourth quarter, but a Landry Jones touchdown pass to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds on the clock would give Bob Stoops’s Oklahoma the 50-49 victory.
No. 75: Sam Huff, WVU guard 1952-1951
With number 75 comes one of the greatest football products to ever not only to come out of West Virginia University, but the state of West Virginia as a whole: Sam Huff.
A native of Farmington, Huff joined the Mountaineers alongside Bruce Bosley (number 77 on the #CountdownToKickoff) and “Beef” Lamone to put together three consecutive winning seasons for the Mountaineers. This intimidating front line would pave the way for three consecutive Southern Conference titles, and would bolster Huff to be selected in the 1956 NFL Draft.
Huff would win the Super Bowl in his rookie season and have an extensive run in the pros. He would eventually be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
He received an induction to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 before having his number retired and permanently enshrined in Milan Puskar Stadium in 2005.
No. 76: Pat White’s 76-yard touchdown run vs. USF (2005)
Back in 2005, there weren’t a lot of people outside of Morgantown who could say they had heard of Pat White.
The star quarterback burst onto the scene for the Mountaineers that year as a redshirt freshman, quarterbacking West Virginia towards the end of its Big East tenure. His first season under center was a rousing success, dropping only one game to a third-ranked Virginia Tech team led by Michael Vick.
With a major bowl bid on the line in the last game of the regular season, White and the Mountaineers needed a big performance to stay the course — and they got it.
While White did lead the game in passing, he got the job done — again — this time with his quick feet. Racking up 177 yards on the ground himself (he had 220 the week before, and 129 before that), White had his way with the USF defense. He was able to punctuate the game (and, really, the season) with a 76-yard run, willing himself into the endzone through a flurry of defenders.
The Mountaineers won the game 28-13 to maintain a perfect conference record, and would go on to defeat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl the following January.
No. 77: Bruce Bosley, offensive line 1951-1955
Few Mountaineers have their name and number painted in Milan Puskar Stadium. Bruce Bosley is one of those Mountaineers.
Coming in from Green Bank, West Virginia, Bosley came to Morgantown and immediately made an impact on the Mountaineers. After the Mountaineers went 5-5 in 1951, Bosley came in and became an immediate starter as a freshman in ‘52. He helped WVU to a 7-2 season as a freshman, which sparked another five winning seasons — the longest such streak in school history to that point.
Bosley would go on to be drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft in 1956, making it to four Pro Bowls in his career. He was inducted in to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982, and the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. His jersey number was immortalized in Milan Puskar Stadium in 2016.
No. 78: Rich Braham, WVU left tackle 1990-1993
We’re coming to you from the trenches for day 78! Morgantown native Rich Braham was a staple of the Mountaineers’ offensive line in the early 1990s, and eventually earned himself a lenghty career in the NFL through the early 2000s.
While there aren’t many stats to quantify the career of an o-lineman, his tenure at WVU can be defined by several All-America bids, a team MVP his senior year, and an induction to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 (among other accolades).
In his MVP season of 1993, Braham led the offensive line to help running back Robert Walker rush for 1,250 yards — then a school record. He would go on to get drafted in 1994 by the Arizona Cardinals, but would play in the NFL for the Cincinatti Bengals until his retirement after the 2006 season.
No. 79: Tevin Bush takes the handoff for 79 yards vs. Baylor in 2018
At first glance, Tevin Bush doesn’t exactly look like a prototypical college football player. Standing at just 5-feet-6-inches, the New Orleans native might stand out initially because of his smaller frame.
That is, until you give him open space.
Bush earned himself a spot on West Virginia’s roster as an athlete to be used on offense. In 2017, he rushed, received, and returned on the field for the Mountaineers, while amassing a total of 81 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
That total would almost be topped in a single play the following season. With West Virginia already leading 34-0 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Will Grier gave Bush the ball on an end-around. Bush found space almost immediately, taking it 79 yards to the Bears’ 1 yard line. Grier would finish it off himself on the next play, extending the blowout.
No. 80: Danny Buggs’s 80-yard rush against Syracuse, 1972
The tilts between Syracuse and West Virginia were always tough ones, even before the Schwarzwalder Trophy was on the line. This is especially true of the 1972 edition of the rivalry matchup.
After losing a close battle on the road by just 4 points to the then-Orangemen in 1971, the annual game would be rematched 363 days later at Mountaineer Field. On a chilly November day, West Virginia would get their revenge on ‘Cuse, handing out a 43-12 shallacking to close out the regular season.
Highlighting the blowout was wide receiver Danny Buggs, who was competing in his first season for West Virginia under coach Bobby Bowden. Buggs would add an 80-yard touchdown to the scoring stockpile, one of his 12 that season. 1972 would be Buggs’s most productive year of his college career, tallying 1187 yards from scrimmage and making a major impact in his first season.