Well, we’ve reached the end of our Twelve Days of Mountaineers. We’ve seen overtimes, basketball tournaments, no-hitters and lots of “Country Roads” sung. What’s one of the most exciting Mountaineer moments in 2020?
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl versus the Army Black Knights.
On Sunday, December 20, the Mountaineers received their bowl berth invitation to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Memphis, Tennessee. The Mountaineers would be taking on the in-state Tennessee Volunteers. About 18 hours later, the Volunteers were out and the Mountaineers were out an opponent. It took a few hour, but bowl and West Virginia officials were quick to replace the Volunteers with the Army Black Knights.
A midday New Year’s Eve matchup against a 9-win team was officially set. Cue the uphill battle for the Mountaineers.
The Liberty Bowl was truly a hard-fought battle between the two teams. West Virginia’s Jarret Doege struggled throughout the first half of the game and was benched for Austin Kendall in the second. Kendall and Doege experienced the same role reversal toward the end of the 2019 season, but this time Kendall hit the field and made the most of his last 30 minutes as a Mountaineer.
Fumbles, a slow start in the first half, quarterback changes, and an on-sides kick combined for the magic recipe for the Mountaineers to have their first bowl win since 2015 when Skyler Howard led the Mountaineers to victory in the Cactus Bowl over Arizona State.
The Liberty Bowl victory came in mere hours before the end of a tumultuous year for just about everyone. For a few hours on New Year’s Eve, Mountaineer nation was able to stress about their team, not think about the world outside and sing “Country Roads” on the last day of 2020.
A good day, indeed.