The dawn of a new era. An air of celebration an optimism. A spiffy new entrance.
These were just a few of the reasons for the excitement which greeted the beginning of West Virginia's 2008 lid lifter against the Villanova Wildcats.
However, as the first quarter was winding towards its conclusion, the slightest feeling of doubt was creeping into the minds of gold-clad fans seated inside Milan Puskar Stadium. Villanova's offense, led by junior quarterback Antwon Young, was driving methodically down the field. While the Wildcats had no points, neither did West Virginia.
In fact, the Mountaineers' high-powered offense, led by senior quarterback Pat White and a deep, talented offensive line had seen all of five plays on the afternoon, spanning just two minutes and 10 seconds.
A 25-yard pass from Young to Brandyn Harvey had moved the ball into Mountaineer territory, and a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Quinton Andrews at the end of that play moved the ball 14 yards closer to paydirt. Villanova could smell the end zone.
On third down and 16, Young dropped back to pass. Flying into the backfield came reserve linebacker John Holmes. Down went Young, and out came the ball.
Holmes did his best to pick up the loose pigskin, but looked more like a youngster trying to grasp a greased watermelon in a swimming pool. Finally, senior stalwart Mortty Ivy scooped up the ball. The pregame captain was off to the races.
For all intents and purposes, so were the rest of Bill Stewart's Mountaineers.
One play later, White connected with junior wideout Alric Arnett on a 24-yard touchdown pass, sending West Virginia well on its way to the first victory of 2008.