Thursday, February 4, 2010

(Best Wins of the decade) #10. Nehlen Leaves as a Winner: West Virginia-49 Ole Miss-38

December 28, 2000

Recap – The Mountaineers, fully aware of the eight game bowl losing streak they carried into this game, came out emotionally charged up, determined to send legendary coach Don Nehlen out in style. They succeeded. Early in the first quarter, junior Brad Lewis connected with monstrous fullback Wes Ours, who rumbled 40 yards for the score. Lewis stayed hot en-route to winning mvp honors for the game, tossing for 318 yards and 5 touchdowns while leading a West Virginia onslaught that ran up a 35-9 halftime score. WVU continued where they left off after the break, as Shawn Terry ran back the opening kick-off of the second half 99 yards for a score and the Mountaineers extended the lead to 49-9 before an Ole Miss 4th quarter rally brought a degree of respectability to the final score. WVU’s all-time leading rusher, Avon Cobourne, contributed 125 yards on the ground.

Impact on Season – WVU came into the game with a 6-5 record, so the win was the difference in a winning record and an even one. Overall, the season was good but fell short of excellence as the Mountaineers dropped games against the better competition, including conference rivals Virginia Tech and Pitt. This win gave the Eers a victory over a good team from a strong conference with two future NFL stars in RB Deuce McAllister and QB Eli Manning.

Impact on Program – It was only appropriate that the winningest coach in WVU history have his last game marked down as a “W.” Nehlen had brought the program a long way, establishing tradition and longevity along the way. While rarely spectacular, Nehlen’s teams were solid, and the program he built provided a foundation for the explosion of WVU football over the next decade. He left the field that night with 202 career wins to the sounds of Mountaineer faithful chanting his name.

Memorable Quote – “I was going to sleep win, lose, or draw, but I’ll probably sleep better since we won” - Don Nehlen

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