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. 61: Preston Waters’s 62 interception return yards vs. Pitt in 1989
There are only three instances of a tie in Backyard Brawl history, with the most recent of which occurring in 1989. On September 30 of that year, West Virginia squared off against Pitt for the 80th edition of the rivalry matchup — and to this day, it is still one of the wildest.
With the Mountaineers getting out to a 22-point lead at halftime, it seemed like a repeat of the previous year’s matchup — a 31-10 victory for West Virginia. Pitt quarterback Alex Van Pelt (a Grafton, West Virginia native) was intercepted four times leading up to the final chapter of the game, with two of those picks coming at the hands of Preston Waters — who would amass 62 return yards.
After mistakes were made by the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter, Pitt attempted an onside kick to get back in the game. Waters, who was already having a career game, was poised to scoop it up — but the ball slipped through his hands for the Panther recovery.
Pitt would come back to salvage the game and earn a tie after scoring 23 unanswered points, 31-31.
No. 62: Pat McAfee makes all of his 62 extra point attempts in 2006
Pat McAfee is one of the most beloved Indianapolis Colts in recent memory (maybe except for a certain quarterback), but West Virginia fans were very familiar with him before he went pro.
The Western Pennsylvania native kicked all four of his seasons at WVU, making a name for himself on the national stage. His sophomore year would see him truly break out, when he would convert on all 62 of his extra point attempts in 2006.
No. 63: New press box opens at old Mountaineer Field
Milan Puskar Stadium is now a staple of all things Mountaineer football. Seeing the blue lot in front of Ruby Memorial Hospital caked in tents and tailgaters is all but normal for WVU fans, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the original Mountaineer Field didn’t even come with a press box when it was first opened.
On September 21, 1963, the old Mountaineer Field, which was located on the downtown campus, debuted its brand-new press box while also hosting West Virginia’s home opener against Navy. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers were not able to hold off the Midshipmen, and were treated to a 51-7 rout in front of their home fans.
No. 64: Dale “Wolfman” Wolfley, guard 1987-1990
It wouldn’t be a proper countdown to West Virginia football if the Wolfman didn’t make an appearance! Our own Dale Wolfley played in the WVU trenches for four seasons, protecting former Mountaineers like Eugene Napoleon and Major Harris.
The Wolfley’s have a Mountaineer pedigree. Not only was Dale a Mountaineer, but as was his older brother Ron. Ron would go on to play in the NFL, becoming a fan favorite on the Arizona Cardinals. His son, Stone, also played for the Mountaineers, but unlike his father, he was a defensive lineman.
No. 65: Jacob Sebulsky’s 65-yard interception in 1931
Everyone remembers the 1931 season opener between West Virginia and Duquesne! That contest saw Jacob Sebulsky, a native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, pick the Dukes off and take it back 65 yards for the touchdown. Funnily enough, Sebulsky also doubled as the Mountaineers’ quarterback.
West Virginia would finish the season with a 4-6 record, and would face some familiar opponents — like Pitt, Kansas State and Penn State — along the way.
No. 66: Chuck Howley, offensive lineman 1955-1957
We’re in the gritty part of the countdown! Wheeling native Chuck Howsley played three seasons at WVU, helping push the Mountaineers in the early 1950s. After he finished at West Virginia, Howsley was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 7th overall pick. He would switch positions in the pros, moving to linebacker.
Despite playing offensive line, Howsley did register some statistics, including a career rushing total of -23 yards!
No. 67: Brian Jozwiak, offensive tackle 1982-1985
Winning football teams require a strong offensive line, and in the early 1980s, Brian Jozwiak did everything he could to make sure that was true for West Virginia football.
The Mountaineers enjoyed steady success during Jozwiak’s tenure, putting up four consecutive winning records as an NCAA independent. Jozwiak also protected some of the biggest names in Mountaineer football — like Jeff Hostetler and Pat Randolph — while building his resume to ultimately become a top-ten NFL draft pick.
Jozwiak is still active in West Virginia, and holds a charity golf tournament every summer. He even had some nice things to say about the future of the Mountaineer program when we last spoke to him:
No. 68: Jerry Porter’s 68 interception yards vs. Miami (OH), 1999
Jerry Porter spent several years in the NFL as a wide receiver. Before his time in the pros, his career at West Virginia was used to figure out his spot on the field.
Interestingly enough, Coach Don Nehlen utilized Porter on the other side of the ball — as a defensive back. In week 2 of the 1999 season, Porter showed off his defensive prowess when the Mountaineers hosted Miami (OH) for a non-conference matchup. In this early season showdown, Porter made one of the highlights of his college career when he intercepted Mike Bath, returning the pick 68 yards for a touchdown.
Porter would get drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2000, where he would remain for several seasons, eventually becoming the team’s primary target in 2007.
No. 69: Astroturf installed at old Mountaineer Field
The final years of football at old Mountaineer Field were played on an artificial surface.
Astroturf was installed at the stadium in 1969 and served as the playing surface until WVU football moved to its current home in 1980.
During the 1969 season, the Mountaineers went 10-1 and won the Peach Bowl in what marked Jim Carlen’s final and most productive season as head coach.
The final decade of football at old Mountaineer field was split between two head coaches: Bobby Bowden (1970-75) and Frank Cignetti (1976-79).
No. 70: Bobby Bowden debuts as head coach in 1970
Bobby Bowden is regarded as one of the best college football coaches of all-time. With over 300 wins under his belt, a bowl record of 21-10-1 and two national championships, it’s pretty safe to say Coach Bowden saw some success in his career.
While the bulk of his time was spent in Tallahassee, Florida, Bowden got his first crack at head coaching in 1970 with the West Virginia Mountaineers. In the decades prior, the Alabama native worked his way up the coaching ranks, eventually earning himself the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator gig in 1966. Just four years later, the legend of Bobby Bowden would get its start. At WVU, Bowden’s teams combined for a 41-26 record, capped off with a Peach Bowl win over NC State in 1975.