Reviewing The Mountaineer Year – Part II

West Virginia offensive lineman Mike Brown celebrates the win over James Madison
West Virginia offensive lineman Mike Brown celebrates the win over James Madison

Reviewing The Mountaineer Year – Part II

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — We continue our review of the 2019 WVU sports year with a look at the events of July through December.

Part 1: January to June recapped the first six months of the calendar, and Part 3 will highlight the top stories of the year.

Part II

Aug. 3: WVU women’s basketball coach suspends star player Tynice Martin for violation of team rules

Tynice Martin, a first-team All-Big 12 player last season, was suspended from the WVU women’s basketball team for an unspecified violation of team rules and would not be reinstated until Nov. 7 after she entered a plea of no contest to a domestic battery charge and was sentenced to community service.

Aug. 11: WVU completes tour of Spain with 3-0 record despite not having Oscar Tshiebwe

Despite being without 5-star recruit Oscar Tshiebwe, who could not make the trip due to visa problems, West Virginia completed a 3-0 tour of Spain, winning the three games by an average of 41.6 points. Logan Routt led the scoring as he filled in for Tshiebwe at 17 points per game while Derek Culver averaged a double-double with 16 ponts and 10 rebounds a game.

West Virginia wide receiver George Campbell cradles a touchdown pass against James Madison
West Virginia wide receiver George Campbell cradles a touchdown pass against James Madison

Aug. 31: Neal Brown era of WVU football opens with win over James Madison

West Virginia didn’t play well but rallied in the second half to beat James Madison, 20-13, before 61,891 fans who turned out for Neal Brown’s debut as Mountaineer coach. While the defense had a strong outing, the run game went nowhere with 34 yards in 24 carries. WVU’s two touchdowns came on passes from new quarterback Austin Kendall to Florida State transfer George Campbell and slot receiver Tevin Bush.

Sept. 7: Neal Brown suffers his first loss as WVU coach at Missouri

Neal Brown suffered his first road loss as Missouri buried the Mountaineers, 38-7. WVU gained only 30 yards on the ground and had just 64 yards rushing in two games. It is a problem that will hurt the offense all season.

Sept. 10: Olympic champion Ginny Thrasher a nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year

Former West Virginia University rifle standout Ginny Thrasher was selected as one of the top-30 nominees for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The Springfield, Virginia, native was the first-ever WVU student-athlete to be selected as a top 30-honoree since the award’s inception in 1991. She also was the first rifle athlete to land on the prestigious list.

Sept. 14: WVU bounces back from Missouri to bury N.C. State

WVU reacted to adversity the way Neal Brown wanted, defeating North Carolina State and former WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, 44-27, before 57,052 fans at Mountaineer Field. Quarterback Austin Kendall completed 27 of 40 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns, the last one a pretty 9-yard strike to true freshman Ali Jennings to put the Mountaineers ahead by two scores with 12:24 remaining.

Sept. 21: Martell Pettaway comes off bench to score two TDs as Neal Brown wins his first Big 12 game

Running back Martell Pettaway, who had rushed for just 14 yards in WVU’s first three games, came off the bench to score two second half touchdowns in the victory over Kansas. The running game finally clicked with 192 yards.

“The two touchdown runs he had were big-time plays,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “He breaks a couple of tackles and squirts out for about 20 yards on the one and his second was a really physical run. He got north and south, something he didn’t do the first two games he played.”

Oct. 9: Thrasher becomes one of nine finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year award

Thrasher became the first WVU student-athlete to be selected as a finalist for the award that was established in 1991.

Oct. 16: Oscar Tshiebwe named Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year

Bob Huggins’ biggest recruiting coup at WVU comes into the season is tabbed as the league’s top freshman. Tshiebwe is just the second 5-star recruit ever signed by WVU basketball.

Nov. 1: WVU ends its run through “Murderer’s Row” by nearly upsetting Baylor

The Big 12 schedule maker played a cruel trick on WVU by having it play Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor all in a row and the result was a predictable four-game losing streak. But the Mountaineers showed improvement as they went along. The Mountaineers extended Baylor to the limit in a 17-14 loss, in a hard-fought defensive struggle. The key moment in the game came when back up kicker Casey Legg kicked a game-tying field goal that was wiped out when the bench didn’t get a time out called in time and wound being penalized. His next try was blocked.

Nov. 8: A freshman leads WVU to victory in basketball opener, but it’s not Tshiebwe

Bob Huggins opened his 37th season as a college basketball coach with a 94-84 victory over Akron. All eyes were on prized recruit Oscar Tshiebwe, but he struggled with fouls and finished with five points and five rebounds in just 11 minutes of play. Fellow freshman Miles “Deuce” McBride came off the bench to provide the victory spark. McBridge had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Nov. 9: WVU football losing streak grows to five in a row with home loss to Texas Tech

Quarterback Jarrett Doege made his debut at quarterback fr WVU in relief of Austin Kendall and freshman wide receiver Sam James carved his name alongside WVU’s greatest receivers with 14 catches for 223 yards but the defense had rare bad game as Texas Tech prevailed, 38-17.

Nov. 15: Oscar Tshiebwe rises to the occasion as WVU beats Pitt in ‘Backyard Brawl’

Oscar Tshiebwe registered his first collegiate double-double in his second game and it was a big one as he scored 20 and pulled down 17 rebounds as WVU wins the 187th edition of the Backyard Brawl, 68-53, over Pitt. It was WVU’s fourth win in a row in the series for the first time since Bob Huggins was playing at WVU.

Nov. 16: Jarret Doege gets first start at QB, WVU losing streak ends at five

Neal Brown gives transfer Jarret Doege his first start at quarterback and he responds by throwing three touchdown passes to lead West Virginia to a 24-20 victory over No. 16 Kansas State, the team that earlier in the season upset Oklahoma. Two of Doege’s TD passes were thrown to his roommate, George Campbell, as the Mountaineers ended a five-game losing streak.

Nov. 17: WVU men’s soccer team takes Mid-America Conference title

Freshman midfielder Luke McCormick’s 86th-minute goal helped the West Virginia University men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over Bowling Green in the 2019 Mid-American Conference Championship Final in Akron, Ohio. The victory marked the Mountaineers’ first-ever MAC Tournament title, and it clinched a berth into the NCAA Tournament. McCormick scored on a header goal off a deflection to give WVU the late lead and eventual win.

“What a credit to my kids,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “What a credit to the resilience, the fight and the character for us to go from where we’ve been to where we are now. That’s a testament to the character and the championship mentality of this team.”

Nov. 23: WVU says goodbye to 22 seniors in Senior Day loss to Oklahoma State

West Virginia sent 22 seniors out with a loss, costing them a chance to play in a bowl, as they don’t have enough firepower on the offensive side of the ball to beat Oklahoma State, losing, 20-13. Jarret Doege completed 20 of 30 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown pass to George Campbell. But the key moment in game came when a questionable call took away what appeared to be a touchdown and the Mountaineers unable to score a touchdown with first and goal inside the one-yard line.

Nov. 23: WVU rifle ends fall season unbeaten

The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team concluded its 2019-20 season with its seventh consecutive win, defeating No. 11 Navy, 4715-4655, at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range, in Annapolis, Maryland.

Nov. 24: WVU women’s soccer team sees strong NCAA run end

Their record was just 10-7-2 entering the NCAAs but Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown’s women’s soccer team made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before falling, 3-0, to Washington State.

“I’m proud of this run and I’m super proud of this team,” Izzo-Brown continued. “This is a young team that’s faced a lot of adversity throughout the season and they never gave up. It’s been an incredible run.”

Nov. 24: WVU men’s soccer ends season with loss to No. 11 Marshall in NCAAs

The WVU men’s soccer team’s run into the NCAA Tournament as MAC champions ended with a 2-1 loss to Marshall in Huntington in the second round. The Mountaineers conceded an early goal in the 10th minute before responding with a tally by senior defender Logan Lucas in the 39th. Less than four minutes later, however, the Thundering Herd found a second goal, which proved to be the difference in WVU’s first loss since Nov. 7. WVU finished wth a 10-9-2 record.

“From our standpoint, we looked like a team that was playing its fifth game in 13 days. We were gassed, and it showed a little bit in our press, which has been one of the best things we can do as a team,” Coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “That said, we were in the game right until the bitter end. I’m proud of my team; our guys fought hard. We’ve put on about 2,000 miles in the last two weeks, and along the way, we won a championship and shocked everybody with what we did at Butler three days ago.”

Nov. 26: Ceili McCabe namd Big 12 Women’s Newcomer of the Year

Freshman Ceili McCabe of the West Virginia University cross country team was named the 2019 Big 12 Women’s Newcomer of the Year. “Ceili arrived in August and has done everything that was asked of her in order to be a great teammate and athlete,” Mountaineer coach Sean Cleary said. “This award represents a very consistent series of races that were performed at an extremely high level. We are very proud of her achievements.”

Nov. 28: Tshiebwe celebrates his birthday with a big time double-double

Oscar Tshiebwe bounced back from a bad game against Northern Iowa in the the Calcun Challenge to celebrate his birthday with 19 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Mountaineer to a 75-63 victory over Wichita State to claim the tournment championship. Tshiebwe was named the tournament’s most valuable performer.

Nov. 29: Neal Brown’s first season ends with victory over TCU

It had been a tough transitional year for all involved in the WVU football program but it ended on a high note, the the Mountaineers winning two of their final three game over No. 24 Kansas State and then beating a TCU team playing for a bowl bid.

West Virginia receiver Isaiah Esdale (88) cradles the winning touchdown pass over the outstretched arem of TCU's Vernon Scott (26)
West Virginia receiver Isaiah Esdale (88) cradles the winning touchdown pass over the outstretched arm of TCU’s Vernon Scott (26)

The two victories were close, 24-20, at K-State and 20-17 at TCU, but they were vital for the Mountaineers moving forward.

“I’m proud of our guys,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “It was a huge win to finish the year. It was a long year, but I thought our guys battled. I’ve talked about it. I thought our guys really played just three poor halves, and we’ve been in every league game with the exception of Oklahoma in the fourth quarter, and we haven’t won enough.

“The last three games, winning two of those on the road against two really proud programs, is big for us in this first year of building a program.”

Dec. 4: Colton McKivitz named Big 12’s co-Offensive Lineman of the Year; Darius Stills makes first team all-Big 12 defense

West Virginia offensive tackle Colton McKivitz capped a dream senior season by being named co-Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big 12 while sharing All-Big 12 first team honors with defensive lineman Darius Stills. Dante Stills, Keith Washington and Josh Norwood were named to the second team defense.

Dec. 8: Mountaineer women stun No. 10/8 Mississippi State in Starksville

Led by a career-high 17 points from freshman guard Kirsten Deans, the West Virginia University women’s basketball team upset No. 10/8 Mississippi State, 71-65, Starkville, Mississippi. The win marked the highest-ranked opponent the Mountaineers have defeated since March 6, 2017, when WVU knocked off the No. 2-ranked Baylor Lady Bears in the 2017 Big 12 Tournament Championship. It also was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent WVU has defeated in program history.

Up next: Part III: Top Stories of 2019