Big Plays

With WVU out to an early 14-0 lead against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday, linebacker Bobby Hathaway had two outstanding defensive series to help the Mountaineers score another touchdown and prevent the ‘Cats from gaining any sort of momentum in the contest.

With the Mountaineers leading 14-0, Cincinnati finally got things going on offense, and appeared to be heading toward their first score of the night. The Bearcats had moved from their own 28 to WVU's 45, and on second down and four completed a pass to wide receiver Bill Poland in the flat. Mountaineer spur Eric Wicks hit Poland and forced a fumble, and Hathaway was there to scoop up the loose ball and thwart the drive.

The recovery led to a four-play WVU touchdown drive and a 21-0 lead, and served notice that this night would belong to the Mountaineers. Afterward, however, Hathaway first talked about the bobble he wasn't able to come up with.

"The play before the fumble recovery there was another fumble that I dove on but didn't get," said the Pennsylvania native. "It just popped out on me. That's kind of frustrating, but you can't let it bother you once the next play is ready to start.

"You just have to put it out of your mind and get ready for the next play. This one, I just laid out and got it and tried to hold on tight."

Hathaway was referring to a fumble by UC's Greg Moore, who lost the ball on a Boo McLee hit. Moore ended up recovering his own bobble, but the Mountaineer linebacker was ready for his second chance a moment later. Had he still been brooding over the lost opportunity, he might not have been in position to recover the next Bearcat miscue, but that wasn't the case. True to the lessons he has learned, he put the previous play assigned and moved on to the next one, where his performance led to another Mountaineer score.

Hathaway wasn't finished, however. On UC's next series, he first combined with Dee McCann to make a tackle on a first down run, and then made his second big play of the game. Lining up in his normal outside backer spot, he blew through a block and sacked Cincinnati quarterback Dustin Grutza for a six-yard loss. That play put UC into a second down and 16 hole from which they could not recover, and forced another Bearcat punt two plays later.

"The blitz we called was a good call by the coaches against that formation," Hathaway explained. "I came in there and got off the block. Wicks was the outside rusher and he made the quarterback step right up into me.

"That's a great feeling when you get the chance to get a sack. You work and work to get to the quarterback, and then finally he's right there in front of you and you just want to make sure you get the hit and wrap him up. There's not another feeling like that."

Hathaway made the most of his time on the field, which he splits with five other backers in the busy and effective WVU rotation. He believes that each of the six has settled into a well-defined role that contributes to the Mountaineers' success.

"We all know what we are supposed to do out there, and I think we work well together as a unit," Hathaway said after the Mountaineers shut out the Bearcats and held them to a measly 1.9 yards per carry. "Getting this shutout was really big for the defense, and for the entire team. When we are able to hold a team down like we did, it's a big boost for everyone."

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