A week ago prior to the Mountaineers matchup against James Madison, head coach Neal Brown stated that special teams would play a major role in the game, and could even decide the outcome of the game. A week later, that forecast couldn’t have been any more accurate, and Brown feels this was one of the major reasons the Mountaineers came out with the win.
Although the expectedly slow start to the game offensively indicated there were a lot of mistakes that would need to be cleaned up for week two against Missouri, one clear strength was on the special teams unit, that made multiple game-changing plays to change momentum in West Virginias favor.
Down 7-3 late in the second quarter in desperate need of a stop, junior Darius Stills found a crack in the offensive line and blocked the field goal attempt by JMU kicker Ethan Ratke, which seemingly swung the momentum the Mountaineers way the rest of the game.
The blocked field goal courtesy of Darius Stills was the first of his life and gave a much needed boost of energy to the sideline and the crowd for the rest of the game.
One of the most explosive players on the Dukes squad was punt returner D’Angelo Amos, who Neal Brown noted before the game would be a player they will need to keep
“We held the FCS special teams player of the year last year, to four return yards on our punt team, so I think we did a good job on both coverage units,” said Brown.
On the Mountaineers side of special teams, standouts included senior long-snapper Rex Sunahara, who tallied two tackles for the game, and redshirt freshman Kwantel Raines who forced a fumble early in the first quarter. Sunahara has already been named a Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list player and has proven to be a force on the coverage units during the last couple
“I love to play football and I have to know that my teammates know that I can go down there and cover too, and help this team win,” said Sunahara. “I’m supposed to be down there to make sure no one gets outside of me, but if that ball comes towards me I gotta stick my nose in there and make a tackle if I can.
With an even bigger
Kickoff from Columbia, Missouri is set for 12:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN2. You can also follow along for updatea on the Blue Gold Sports Twitter account.