Key Moment: West Virginia - Georgia Tech

West Virginia's Gator Bowl victory over Georgia Tech was full of key moments, but one sequence in particular was absolutely critical to the Mountaineers' 38-35 win over the ACC runner-up.

Heading into the locker room at the half, the Mountaineers had a lot of work to do. They had stopped the bleeding somewhat near the end of the second quarter, but the Yellow Jackets still held an 11-point advantage. Luckily, West Virginia would be getting the ball first to start the second half. All they needed was a field goal or a touchdown on their opening drive, and the Old Gold and Blue would be within one possession of Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets had other ideas though, as head coach Chan Gailey called an onside kick which his pupils executed perfectly. Just a few plays later, the Ramblin' Wreck was back in the end zone courtesy of a five yard run by running back Tashard Choice (27 carries, 170 yards).

West Virginia answered with a 57-yard bomb from Patrick White to Tito Gonzales on a free play where White's cadence drew the Techsters offsides. The Mountaineers scored again on their next drive to pull within four points (35-31).

What happened next completely turned the tide of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, head coach Rich Rodriguez called for kicker Pat McAfee to kick the ball through the end zone. McAfee took note of the wind, and decided to try to kick a line drive. The ball was booted, and squibbed towards Tech's Tony Clark, who had almost no time to react as the ball ricocheted off of his ankles.

"That was the luckiest kick of my life," said the free-spirited McAfee afterwards. "In all of my years of playing soccer, or football, that was the luckiest kick ever."

A mad scramble for the ball ensued, and West Virginia's John Holmes covered up the pigskin tighter than the lid on a jar of jam. A personal foul on Tech moved the ball 15 yards closer to paydirt. Two plays later, White's fifteen-yard run put West Virginia in the lead for good.

"It hit off of the guy's leg, bounced back, and we jumped on it," said McAfee as he continued to discuss the play. "It worked out. I'm happy about it. I was trying to kick a touchback, and I mishit it terribly."

For the second straight season, a unique kickoff played a key part in one of the biggest comeback wins in school history. Last year, an onside kick against Louisville propelled the Mountaineers to the Big East championship. This year, it lifted them to the first Gator Bowl victory in 114 years of West Virginia football.

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