Colton McKivitz Plays His Final Game At Mountaineer Field
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Colton McKivitz took one final look around Mountaineer Field as the clock ticked down to :00 on Saturday. He sighed in disappointment at coming up short against Oklahoma State, 20-13, and headed off the field … for the last time.
After 49 games in a gold and blue uniform, 25 of them at Mountaineer Field with a total of 46 career starts, West Virginia’s senior offensive tackle had played his final home game at WVU.
“How this journey has gone and the overall career has been is something I never envisioned,” admitted the 6-foot-7, 312-pound junior. “We have one more game to go, though, and start No. 47 sounds pretty nice. Hopefully we end it with a win, and that will make it even better.”
The final game of McKivitz’s collegiate career will take place this coming Friday when West Virginia visits TCU. Barring a calamity, the Mountaineer senior will be where he has been for the past straight 45 games – in the starting lineup.
Four years ago as a redshirt freshman, McKivitz got thrown into the fire in the season opener. WVU’s starting left tackle, Yodny Cajuste, went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opening moments of 2016. Enter the youngster from eastern Ohio, who found himself matched up with Missouri’s all-SEC defensive end Charles Harris. Harris would be a first-round NFL draft pick the next spring, but McKivitz held his own that day, and has done so ever since, despite bouncing from left tackle to right tackle and then this year back to left tackle again.
“The whole change of moving to left tackle has been an experience,” he said. “I think I’ve gotten better as a season has gone along. I think that’s true of my whole career, as the experience has helped make me better.”
McKivitz likely has an NFL future, and after the 2018 season, he considered foregoing his senior year and giving the pros a shot. Instead he decided to return to WVU, which was just in the process of hiring a new head coach in Neal Brown.
Despite the Mountaineers’ struggles at times this season, McKivitz hasn’t regretted his decision to return.
“Playing college football and the experiences that come with it make you a better person,” explained the Jacobsburg, Ohio, native. “That’s part of the reason I wanted to stay for my senior year and see what Coach Brown and his staff had to offer. I think it’s headed for a brighter future.”
Saturday’s loss to No. 22 Oklahoma State, which is now 8-3, presented a microcosm of much of the season for the 4-7 Mountaineers. They did some things well, but ultimately didn’t make the key plays that would have lifted them to victory.
One of those game-changing moments came early in the second quarter when WVU moved the ball down to the Cowboy one-inch line after an 11-yard pass completion from Jarret Doege to Sam James. Whether James had actually broken the goal line plane with the football certainly can be debated, but the officials decided he hadn’t.
Still, West Virginia was just a tap-in putt away from tying the game at 7-7.
But Doege was stuffed on two quarterback sneak attempts from point-blank range, and after a false start penalty pushed WVU back five yards, Doege’s pass to Isaiah Esdale in the end zone fell incomplete.
Instead of getting what appeared to be easy seven points, the Mountaineers had to settle for just a field goal.
With 15 touchdowns in 32 red zone trips this season, West Virginia’s TD ratio from inside the 20-yard line is among the worst in the FBS ranks.
That showed on Saturday.
“On the first play, I thought Okie State did a good job getting under us, but on the second one, I thought we did a good job of coming off the ball, but they had a couple guys go over the top and hold Doege up,” said McKivitz. “As an offensive line, that’s on us. If you’re going to win games in the Big 12, you have to score touchdowns. I tried to relay that message to the team on the sidelines. You have to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals. Credit Okie State for playing tough in the red zone, but we should do a better job getting into the end zone.”McKivitz has never been one to toot his own horn. Despite his many successes, he’s never been fully satisfied.
“Personally I think I could have played better,” the fifth-year senior offensive tackle stated. “That’s been my M.O. from the beginning. If it’s not perfect, it’s not your best. That’s how I’ve always tried to look at it. Today I played good, but it wasn’t great. There are always some things you can do better. Overall this year I think I’ve played well, but there is always room for improvement.”
Colton was one of 22 WVU seniors to walk off Mountaineer Field for the final time after a game on Saturday.
While the outcome was disappointing, certainly for McKivitz, it’s been a career to remember fondly.