West Virginia football had lost some of it’s spark over the past couple years. Former coach, Rich Rodriguez had lofted expectations in Morgantown and the hope was that new coach and offensive wizard, Dana Holgorsen, would put the Mountaineers back in the spotlight. The Marshall game was his debut and the West Virginia offense opened with a three and out followed by an 87 yard punt return TD by Marshall. It didn’t exactly showcase the fruits of his labor. But highly touted Geno Smith quarterbacked his way back into the hearts of mountaineer fans as he led his team on several scoring drives.
This game had a lot riding on it besides being a coaching debut. This instate rivalry is intense with a lot of aggression to win. It’s called “The Friends of Coal Bowl,” but there is little friendly about it. Marshall fans and their band made themselves heard in the massive Milan Puskar Stadium. But, West Virginia fans made most of the noise late – not only because of their team’s resurgence, but because of the new laws allowing on campus beer sales. In West Virginia, this kind of law is right up there in importance with health care. By the third quarter, the skies began to swirl with gray and warnings of nearby lightning were reported. Just then, a crack of lightning was seen…on the field as Tavon Austin for West Virginia took back a kick 100 yards for a TD!
The crowd exploded, and immediately after, were asked to leave the stadium for safety purposes. All fans were herded into the practice facility where folks tossed footballs, made small talk about the weather, took naps, and waited out the storm. After three hours and two delays, the game finally resumed with the Mountaineers scoring another TD. Up 34-13 early in the fourth, lightning was spotted again causing another hour delay and then an agreed upon end to the game. We left during the last delay shortly before they forced quit on the game. The frigid rain began to pelt sideways just as we left. Several fans were rushing to their cars and dodging a merciless rain.With a couple miles to walk and already soaked, we were forced to remove as much wet clothing as possible at our car parked alongside the highway. Embarrassment took a back seat to discomfort at this moment as drivers by turned their heads to catch a glimpse of these two wackos on the highway. By the time we crossed the Maryland border, a little bit of dryness had set in and we heard the game had been ended. The day did not turn out to be the ideal scenario, but it certainly was memorable.