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Hank Hersch
November 28, 1988
A win over Syracuse gave West Virginia a perfect season and its fans a ton of pride
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November 28, 1988

Cause For Hollerin'

A win over Syracuse gave West Virginia a perfect season and its fans a ton of pride

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Harris had his usual productive game. Syracuse went with a two-deep zone to deny him the long strike, and indeed his two bomb attempts fell incomplete. So he scrambled and threw short, completing eight of 16 passes for 114 yards.

Syracuse's attack was inept. On their first seven possessions the Orangemen turned the ball over five times. The last of these was Edwards's interception, which happened with 8:34 left in the third quarter. Edwards flew in front of Daryl Johnston in the flat, tipped the ball with one hand, latched onto it with both and streaked down the sideline untouched to give West Virginia a 21-3 lead.

From then on West Virginia's D, which had been overshadowed all season by an offense that scored 44.1 points a game, was in the forefront. "Notre Dame will find out that those guys are good," said Syracuse's quarterback Todd Philcox.

As people find out about West Virginia, they can't fail to notice the sweet purity of the state's pride in its team. The university is a highly publicized center of achievement in a state with a gloomy 8.7% unemployment rate. But West Virginians were true to their school long before this crop of Mountaineers rose to the top. Said safety Bo Orlando, "When we were 4-6 [in 1986] and the seniors got introduced before the game, the fans were just as loud then as they were today."

Now, the spotlight of a possible national title game in Tempe, Ariz., will fall on these folks—Major, musket and all. "What I like about this is you have the tradition of Notre Dame—which is the most traditional team—and you have the Cinderella story of West Virginia," says the Fiesta Bowl's executive director, Bruce Skinner.

Says Harris, "Every player dreams of winning a national championship. Now the dream is coming true."

Almost heaven, West Virginia. Almost.

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