It has been a season to forget for the West Virginia football team.
Through several second-half collapses and a five-game losing streak, the Mountaineers were just looking for something to finally go their way. On Kansas State’s final drive of the game Saturday WVU finally got the break they have been waiting for.
The Wildcats, down by only four, went on a 92-yard drive with less than two minutes to play and were poised to take the lead on a potential game-winning touchdown. From the WVU 30-yard line, K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson threw a ball destined for the hands of Dalton Schoen that would have given the Wildcats the lead with less than 30 seconds left.
It would have been just another heartbreaking loss for the Mountaineers this season if someone did not step up and make a play. Cornerback Hakeem Bailey was that guy for West Virginia. The senior undercut Schoen’s route and intercepted the pass, Thompson’s second interception of the day.
“The guy was open,” head coach Neal Brown. “It’s a route that we’ve had trouble with in the past, not only here but at Troy. They got us in a good look, they made a good call and the ball just hung up and Bailey went in and made a play.”
“I just knew I had to go up and get the ball and seal the win for my team,” Bailey said. “I knew 83 (Schoen) was their guy. They were trying to take a chance and throw a touchdown. He hit me with a hitch and go and I caught up to him and made a play on the ball.”
For Bailey, it was his first interception of the season and second of his career.
“I’m happy we made it,” Brown said. “There’s been a lot this year that hadn’t gone our way so we were due.”
Prior to that final Kansas State drive Brown said he told his defense just to go play.
“It’s been the same deal (all year),” Brown said. “We’ve been talking about ‘man up’ and that’s just be accountable. When we talk about being accountable we talk about strain, being physical, doing what you’re coached to do.
“We felt like time was our friend, they had to go 92 yards in under two (minutes). They went out and did it, we didn’t necessarily execute our best, but we made a play when we needed to.”
Linebacker Josh Chandler said he knew someone would make a play. Even as the final throw was in the air he was confident the Mountaineers would win.
“It’s destiny, we did everything right, somebody had to make a play,” Chandler said. “Hakeem is a veteran guy, been in that situation before and just made a play when it presented itself.”