It was CAT that called it-indeed I will have a recap from one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever witnessed live and in person.
The West Virginia Mountaineers prevailed over the hated Pittsburgh Panthers 19-16 thanks to a last second field goal by freshman kicker Tyler Bitancurt.
First let me take take a moment and walk you through what will go down as one of the most memorable moments in WVU football history.
Kick is up————And it sails through the uprights.
It was a bone chilling moment, and not just because temperatures dropped into the low 30s. The crowd of 60,000 went silent as the kick went up, paused for a second and broke into a thunderous cheer as the referees motioned their arms in the good and upward position signaling a made field goal.
Seeing the distraught Pitt players lay on the ground in sorrow brought the biggest notion of joy. These Panthers from Pittsburgh not only have bestwed a mantra of hatred upon me but they are also the reason my love for Pittsburgh sports does not extend beyond the black and gold of the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins.
I love Pittsburgh. The city is a beautiful place and really underrated in terns of livability and cleanliness. It gets a bad rap for being a rundown area and a city lost in the economic times. However it is very beautiful and a great place to be.
It is not the steel city’s fault that a university like Pitt is in it’s city limits. Don’t get me wrong-it is a great school, a degree from Pittsburgh will go a long way. It is the sporting teams that have always rubbed me thr wrong way.
Many people say “How can you ‘put on for Pittsburgh’ and cheer for the teams, but turn around and hate the Panthers?” The institution of the pro teams and college team is right there in plain colors-well, its the colors. Blue and Gold belongs to the Mountaineers, seeing the Panthers adorn nearly the same colors as WVU and go against the black and gold of the ‘Burgh is a parallel that has always set me off.
Also, it is how I was raised. My family is born and bred in the Mountain State of West Virginia. If you are from WV-you are a Mountaineer fan-by birth. It is really second to none the pride and passion that flows from the blood of the citizens of West “By God” Virginia. The uniqueness of being such a lowly populated, mostly poor and rural area is one thing-but to have the loyalty of an athletic club like the Mountaineers to cheer for is great. With ni pro teams in teh state it is only natural to cheer for the pro teams of Pittsburgh. While cheering for the PROFESSIONAL teams it is clearly natural to root against the natural rival of your beloved Mountaineers-Pitt.
I was raised this way along with many, many others. West Virginia University is filled with students from Western, PA. The saying goes once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer rings true when these people bring their loyalties to Morgantown. They are fully allowed to cheer with their black and gold from back home while adopting the old gold and blue of WVU.
Jack Fleming is one of these people. As the voice of the Mountaineers for a handful of decades, Fleming had a voice that would send chills down your back. His radio calls are still played with great honor commemorating the great plays of WVU history. Fleming doubled as the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers as well. His most famous call may be that of the “Immaculate Recpetion” by Franco Harris.
He was a die hard Steeler and Mountaineer. Contradictory? Not at all!
The 19-16 victory on Friday night was much more fulfilling because revenge was on the line. Everything tastes sweeter when revenge was on the line. Not only are Pitt and WV bitter rivals, this was the 102nd edition of the famed “Backyard Brawl.” In a rivalry game, facts and figures are thrown out the window as pride and bragging rights are on the line. Pitt owns WV in the all time series and have beat us the last two years. The Most stinging loss came in 2007. This game was defined by these two numbers-13-9.
WVU was ranked 2nd in the nation and had a clear path to the National Title game. I was a freshman at the time and the electricity was well electric. It was unlike anything ever felt before as we had our tickets book to the National Championship game in Miami. All we had to do was get by a 4 win Pittsburgh team. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the 28 point underdogs came into our house and beat us. On Friday, Pittsburgh was ranked 9th as we were unranked so the history remains the same as it often repeats itself.
The season for the Mountaineers is far from over. We are 8-3 with one game to play next week at Rutgers, It won’t be easy but a win over the Scarlet Knights will put us in a position for a New Years Day Bowl Game, most likely the Gator Bowl.
It was a season that looked to be darkened after 3 tough, very winnable losses. Anythin
g can happen in the Backyard Brawl and the win was definitely a springboard for the rest of our season.
Last night was truly a great night to be a Mountaineer and one I will never forget.