PoG: WVU - Pitt

On a day when so many Mountaineers stepped up to make big plays at key moments, it was hard to determine the honors. Well, at least on one side of the ball.


Tyler Bitancurt. Could it be anyone else?

The redshirt freshman scribbled his name into the Backyard Brawl history books in a big way in this one, doing his best Bill McKenzie impersonation by booting the game-winner through the uprights as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

While that 43-yarder will be the one that those who watched this game will remember most, Bitancurt also hit three other field goals that were ultimately of equal importance.

Those kicks, which came from 20, 43 and 39 yards out, helped put points on the board on day in which the West Virginia offense failed to take advantage of multiple opportunities to score touchdowns early.

While the big day should be enough to earn Bitancurt the many honors that are likely to come his way this week, it is only more impressive when one takes note of the way the kicker maintained confidence in himself after head coach Bill Stewart opted not to send him out for two potential field goals in the first half.

The coach and the kicker both said those decisions had nothing to do with Bitancurt's ability to make the kicks; rather, they were motivated by a desire to be aggressive and "go for the jugular," in Stewart's parlance.

Bitancurt said all the right things after the game, claiming that he truly was not bothered by the fact that the offense went for both of those fourth down conversions and was happy to cheer his teammates on from the sidelines.

Brandon Hogan

In the end, those same teammates were the ones who piled on top of the redshirt freshman kicker after he gave WVU an emotional victory on Senior Night -- a moment that Bitancurt said he would never forget.


Brandon Hogan. Perhaps no other player to earn one of our nods as a Player of the Game this season has been more unlikely than Hogan was to do so against Pittsburgh.

But the converted receiver showed why the WVU coaches thought he would do well as a cornerback in this one, almost always staying stride-for-stride with Jonathan Baldwin, the Panthers' top receiver and a player who Stewart said has a long career as a professional in front of him.

Hogan was credited with two pass breakups and eight total tackles on the night.

Of course, Hogan and the secondary did give up a long bomb to Baldwin on the game-tying 50-yard touchdown pass from Bill Stull in the final minutes.

But otherwise, the cornerback was one of the heroes of the night, getting great position on the star receiver essentially every time Stull tried to find him deep downfield.

Even the long bomb wasn't Hogan's fault, as Stewart said that the safety help that should have come over the top of Baldwin in the cover two defense the Mountaineers were playing at the time was slow getting in position.

Hogan's performance took away a big part of the Pittsburgh offense, helping the rest of the defense better focus on trying to slow down Dion Lewis and the visitors' rushing attack.


  • Robert Sands. There was some debate between the assembled Blue & Gold News brain trust in the moments after the game as to whether the safety may have deserved the nod ahead of Hogan.

    He was that good at times, earning a game-high three pass breakups (the entire Pitt defense only totaled one PBU) and intercepting a Stull pass on a drive in which the Panthers had started to build some momentum on the ground with Lewis and reached midfield.

    Sands also dropped another would-be interception in the first half, a play which could have ended the visitors' first scoring drive.

    All of the above statements about the secondary's solid performance against a solid Pitt passing attack apply to Sands as well. The safety's work went a long way in helping the Mountaineers earn their eighth victory of the season.

  • Jarrett Brown. The quarterback simply got it done when it counted -- most notably on his team's game-winning drive.

    Brown made the most of his last drive on Mountaineer Field, rushing for 10 yards on the second play of the possession. On the subsequent snap, he threw for 11 more to Alric Arnett.

    But it was his incredible rush on third-and-10 from the Pitt 45-yard line in the final minute that was most impressive. Brown weaved his way through tacklers and looked every bit as elusive and dangerous of a runner as he did before suffering a concussion against Marshall.

    The nine yards the senior gained were improbable, to say the least. On multiple occasions, it appeared as though the signal-caller was right in a Pitt defender's sights, but the QB would somehow flail his body in another direction just in time to keep moving downfield.

    The subsequent conversion on fourth-and-1 by Ryan Clarke kept the drive alive, but the offense would have never even had the chance to try to move the chains on fourth down if it wasn't for Brown's heroics on the previous play.

    While the quarterback has had his rough moments this season, he ended his career at home on a high note, becoming part of the first WVU team to go undefeated at home since the 1993 squad.

  • WVU Guest Services and Security Guards on the field. While this one deviates from the normal, I personally would give these fine folks the top billing for the night.

    In the midst of the jubilation after Bitancurt's game-winner sailed through the uprights, my trusty iPhone flew out of my jacket pocket and onto the Mountaineer Field turf.

    In the subsequent moments, around 250 football players and around that many media members may have passed by the device. Some gracious person picked it up and turned it into security, who passed it along to Guest Services.

    After panicking and wondering about how much I would have to pay for an early upgrade (though I was due for one in around three weeks anyway) throughout the entire postgame interview session, I borrowed a fellow media member's phone and gave myself a call.

    Fortunately, a kind woman with Guest Services answered and told me I could come pick it up.

    It would have been a shame to have an otherwise perfect night of football ruined by something like losing my phone (though Greg Hunter told me afterwards that if I had to lose my phone for WVU to beat Pitt, it would be worth the trade -- a sort of sacrifice to the football gods).

    Guest Services, like Bitancurt, came through in the clutch for yours truly.

    Just one day after Thanksgiving, I already have something else to be thankful for.

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