7 Plays in 7 Days: Hakeem Bailey’s Game-Winner
7 Plays in 7 Days will highlight the seven most important plays from the West Virginia 2019 Football season, one day at a time. This is the final day, day seven, the most important play of the season.
7) Sam James 44-yard touchdown reception versus no. 11 Texas
6) Casey Legg 51-yard field goal versus no. 24 Kansas State
5) George Campbell 83-yard touchdown reception/Winston Wright 95-yard return touchdown versus no. 12 Baylor
4) Bryce Wheaton 50-yard touchdown reception versus no. 24 Kansas State
3) Four-play goal-line stand versus no. 12 Baylor
2) Isaiah Esdale 35-yard touchdown reception versus TCU
1) Hakeem Bailey interception versus no. 24 Kansas State
A lot of things did not break West Virginia’s way throughout the 2019 season. The Mountaineers were in all but three games in the fourth quarter this season but struggled to make the plays necessary to win.
Interceptions against Texas, a blocked field goal at Baylor, allowing a late touchdown versus Oklahoma State were all ways that WVU lost games they could have won. At Kansas State, it looked like something like that would happen again.
Down by only four, the no. 24 Wildcats were driving down the field against the WVU defense. It almost looked guaranteed that Kansas State would be able to score a touchdown and win the game. This time, however, the Mountaineers were able to step up and make a game-winning play.
Hakeem Bailey’s interception took a would-be touchdown away from Kansas State’s best receiver, Dalton Schoen. Schoen already had a 68-yard touchdown in this game, so it made sense for Skylar Thompson to go back to him. Had he caught the ball, Schoen would have scored easily, there was no one else in the middle of the field. The senior Bailey knew he needed to make a play for his team.
“I just knew I had to go up and get the ball and seal the win for my team,” Bailey said after the game.
Fellow cornerback Keith Washington II said the play looked even better from the field.
“I caught it at the later half, I was guarding my guy, turned and saw the ball and it looked like he jumped thirty feet in the air to catch the ball,” Washington said. “It was a crazy play, I’m happy for Hakeem. That’s what happens when you work hard and step up to be able to make plays like that.”
Defensive end Jeffery Pooler Jr. said the message before that drive was just to in the game.
“If they don’t score they can’t win,” Pooler said. “We can bend but we can’t break. We were up four so we could allow a field goal but we couldn’t let them in the endzone. Our thing was, ‘somebody make a play’.”
The win broke a five-game losing streak for WVU and showed that the system that first-year head coach Neal Brown and his staff were putting into place was working.
“There’s been a lot this year that hasn’t gone our way,” Brown said. “We were due.”