In 2003, the WVU football team started the season 1-3, with their fifth opponent being the NFL-pipeline Miami Hurricanes. It was a Thursday night game in South Florida, with the ‘Canes sporting a 24-game home win streak.
This Thursday night showdown was broadcast on ESPN for the whole country to watch; if they stayed awake for the wild finish, falling asleep after was surely difficult.
After fumbles on two early possessions, Mountaineer running back Quincy Wilson scored the first points of the game after capitalizing on a run from just one yard out, making the score 7-0 after the PAT. Miami matched that score with a touchdown of their own, and added a field goal minutes later to take the lead. With just under three minutes in the half, WVU knotted things at 10 with their own kick.
After surrendering three field goals in the second half and getting only one of their own, the Mountaineer offense needed a big play.
The score was 19-13.
2:13 was on the game clock.
It was 3rd & 13 from the Miami 33 yard line.
And the 1-3 Mountaineers just wouldn’t quit.
Rasheed Marshall took the shotgun snap and waited for his running back to flash open. It was essentially a handoff, but the screen pass allowed Wilson to get in the open field without having to knock away defenders.
Once he caught it, though, he was on a mission.
Each team plays with eleven players, and Wilson met – or should I say destroyed – nearly every single Hurricane on the field that play.
First up was Miami‘s future first-round pick Vince Wilfork: Wilson saw the big man coming and used a simple cutback move to escape him. Nice try, Vince!
He then slipped past Thomas Carroll.
As the late, great Sean Taylor came barreling down from his safety position, Wilson simply zoomed past him as well.
Jonathan Vilma, the leader and middle linebacker of the defense, had no chance at catching Wilson down the sideline, getting tangled up with his own teammates and downfield Mountaineer blockers.
Unfortunately for safety Brandon Meriweather, he did get caught by Wilson. As Meriweather – the last line of defense – squared up for the tackle, Wilson buried him into the turf and hurdled his body before scampering into the endzone.
Five future NFL players – Wilfork, Taylor, Vilma, DJ Williams and Meriweather – all had a chance at bringing down the Mountaineer and failed. After Wilson’s heroic score, the Mountaineers led 20-19.
This play, dubbed “The Run”, has become one of Mountaineer fans’ most memorable plays. The outcome of the game, however, is often overlooked when reminiscing.
Kellen Winslow, Jr., another future NFL player, would trump Wilson’s play with a catch of his own on the following possession. On 4th & 13, Winslow, Jr. hauled in an incredible catch over the middle keeping the drive alive. The rest is history as the Hurricanes made a field goal, winning the game 22-20.
This game breathed life into the Mountaineers, as they’d win their final seven regular-season games. This 8-4 record would earn West Virginia a Gator Bowl berth.
Where were YOU when this happened?