Friday, June 13, 2008

Hall of Fame: Miracle in Morgantown

Shortly after Shayne Graham's kick sailed through the West Virginia night, split a pair of uprights and pierced the hearts of Couch Burners everywhere, I started calling New Orleans hotels.

Nov. 6, 1999, was a great day to be a Hokie. First, Minnesota traveled to No. 2 Penn State and shocked the Nittany Lions, 24-23. Gopher freshman kicker Dan Nystrom booted a 32-yard field goal as time expired to hand Penn State its first loss of the year and clear the way for No. 3 Virginia Tech to control its own destiny for a Sugar Bowl bid.

Just as Nystrom was making his kick and getting mobbed by his teammates on ESPN2, the Hokies were kicking off in Morgantown on CBS. If the Hokies won out, they would most likely earn a berth in the national championship game. But their biggest test would come before they were even handed the No. 2 ranking.

Tech appeared to have the game in hand when Shyrone Stith scored from six years out to give the Hokies a 19-7 lead with under five minutes to play. However, several bounces went West Virginia's way in the next few minutes.

The Mountaineers fumbled the ensuing kickoff but recovered, returned it deep into Tech territory and were the beneficiaries of a late hit call. West Virginia quickly scored to cut Tech's lead to five. On the second play of Tech's next drive, Stith fumbled and West Virginia was again in business deep in Tech territory.

Brad Lewis found Khori Ivy in the end zone four plays later to give West Virginia the lead and leave the Hokies stunned. Their perfect season appeared lost. But the two-point conversion failed, leaving it a one-point game and hope for a final, desperate drive.

The next 1:15 went like this:

The final five minutes of that game saw at least four complete nervous breakdowns on my part. And who knows how many more in the state of Virginia. But Michael Vick and Shayne Graham were able to save the season. I knew after that game this team wasn't going to get beat. By the end of the night I had my hotel and flight reserved for New Orleans. A few weeks later, the Hokies beat BC and clinched a spot in the Sugar Bowl.

As for that Sugar Bowl, let's just pretend it didn't happen. At least not the fourth quarter, anyway.

1 comment:

Z said...

I found this page that I think you guys will like - it had news feeds from the top Hokie news websites: