7 Plays in 7 Days: Legg’s Improbable Kick That Helped WVU’s Unlikely Victory
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 day two, the sixth 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
Most teams’ back-up kickers do not see a lot of playing time, they are not supposed to at least.
For a West Virginia team that dealt with a myriad of injuries this season, it was hardly surprising when redshirt freshman placekicker Casey Legg was forced into action.
WVU’s regular kicker, junior Evan Staley, was injured in the week leading up to the Mountaineers’ Halloween meeting with the then-undefeated Baylor Bears that held him out of action for three games.
In that game against the Bears, Legg kicked a would-be 43 yarder to tie the game, but it was called back due to a delay of game penalty. The ensuing 48-yard attempt was blocked. This was Legg’s first-ever in-game field goal attempt. Not first-ever in college, his first-ever. Legg was a soccer player in high school, not a kicker. Legg made his only attempt in the team’s next game against Texas Tech, a 30 yarder.
Even though Legg was one for two on field goals filling in at this point after the Texas Tech game head coach Neal Brown had a lot of confidence in Legg.
“Every time we have put him in a challenge situation he has risen to the occasion,” Brown said. “That’s not always the case, especially with specialists sometimes. We try to put out specialists in as many, gut-wrenching, pressure-packed situations in practice…He has always risen to the occasion.”
The Mountaineers’ next game on the road at Kansas State is when Legg made the play that landed him on this list. Trailing 20-14 to the then-no. 24 Wildcats with four minutes left in the third quarter, West Virginia was driving down the field trying to either take the lead with a touchdown or make the score closer with a field goal. When a pair of holding penalties put West Virginia in a fourth-and-26 at the Kansas State 35 yard-line, Legg was called upon.
Not only was the 51-yard make the best of Legg’s young career by more than 20 yards, but it was also WVU first field goal of over 50 yards since 2016 and the longest make by a WVU kicker since Oct. 29, 2015, when Josh Lambert hit from 51 yards.
This was also Legg’s second attempt during in that game, he had missed earlier from 37 yards just before halftime. Almost like a fortune teller, Brown knew the team would need Legg later in the game.
“(He) missed a kick there at the end of the half, he was kind of holding his head down and I said, ‘Hey man, we’re going to need you’,” Brown said after the game. “We felt like with the wind he could make it 50-plus and he made a 51-yarder and that ended up being the difference in the game.”
Following Legg’s field goal, WVU scored a touchdown on their next drive (that may or may not end up on this list) to make the score 24-20. The Wildcats’ final drive of the game got down to the West Virginia 30-yard line and, if not for Legg’s field goal, Kansas State could have tried to set up a field goal of their own to win the game. With a four-point deficit, however, they had to try to score a touchdown on the drive, which the Mountaineers did not allow (on another play that may or may not on this list).
The 24-20 win was the Mountaineers’ biggest victory of the season, defeating a nationally ranked team as double-digit road underdogs. The 51-yarder was the last field goal Legg attempted on the season as Staley returned in the next game.