MORGANTOWN, W.Va.-When Kansas State jumped out to a 16-3 lead over West Virginia University on Saturday, the Mountaineers answered the best way they knew how. They rallied together.
“It took a team effort to go out there and win by one,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
In the face of adversity, the Mountaineers responded. When the offense struggled to find their rhythm the defense stepped up.
And WVU’s offense got hot at just the right moment.
“I feel like we fought adversity and we came through the way we wanted to come through,” redshirt senior cornerback Rasul Douglas said.
This may not have been the response in recent years.
“The team last year, I don’t think we would have won that game last year,” senior center Tyler Orlosky said.
Part of that may be due to the chemistry of the players on this season’s team.
“Guys like each other and they’re happy to be here,” Holgorsen said. “And that wins you a lot of football games.”
For the Mountaineers, their belief in each other paid off against the Wildcats.
“We knew that we were in reach,” Orlosky said. We’re a team that can score a lot of points if we do what we’re supposed to. Obviously, coming from behind isn’t something that we are afraid of doing. But it’s something we prefer not to do. We did a really good job of doing that, just focusing at what our task was at hand. I thought everyone came out in the second half and played well.”
WVU didn’t panic when things weren’t going their way.
“Everyone’s composure, no panicking, I don’t even know what to say,” Douglas said. “We just wanted to win and no one panicked. And coach told us, he said, it don’t matter what happens, as long as we win by one point, we will be fine. Crazy thing is, we won by one point.”
The win proved to Mountaineer fans and their opponents that this team isn’t going to go down without a fight.
“It showed us who we are, won’t bend, won’t break,” Douglas said. “We’ll fight no matter what. If we can win a game, we are going to fight. We are going to give it our all each play. No matter what.”
It was Shelton Gibson’s play that fueled the fire WVU needed. In the fourth quarter, Skyler Howard made a 52-yard pass to the junior wide receiver. The ball was inches away when Kansas State’s D.J Reed tore Gibson’s helmet off.
And somehow he managed to make the blind catch at the Wildcats 21 yard line, exciting the fans and his teammates. Four plays later, Howard found sophomore Jovon Durante in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass to give the Mountaineers’ a 17-16 lead.
Gibson knew WVU needed something and he answered the call.
“I kept saying in the huddle, game changers, game changers, game changers,” he said. “And I was like who is going to make a big play? The drive before that there was a couple big plays and everything like that. So I said we are not going to stop here, we got to make another play and my name got called. People was like Shelton let’s go. I ain’t look back at them. I didn’t say I got this, I got this, I got this. I’m just like ok let me lock in and go get this for my team.”
The Mountaineers showed resilience in the face of adversity.
“I’m proud of the guys for fighting through it,” Howard said. “Bad things are going to happen, as they did. Really bad things are going to happen, as they did. You’ve just got to keep plugging, keep on fighting. That’s all we can do.”
WVU rose up in a possible make it or break it game and showed that the Mountaineers aren’t going to lay down for anyone.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie Vanderwijst, BGS