WVU Football: McAfee trying to kick his nightmare

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- He could hardly sleep. Thursday night melted into Friday morning, the Mountaineers at long last getting home around 8:30 a.m. Friday melted into Saturday. Saturday into Sunday. Still, his eyes were wide open. All he could see was 23 yards, left hashmark, overtime.

All he could hear was the same sound that his mother, eyes averted, heard that Thursday night: clank!

"The worst day of my life," Plum's Patrick McAfee said last night, his first public recounting of the excruciating, 17-14 overtime loss that, indeed, harked to his two close-range, left-hashmark missed field goals in that unforgettable four-point loss in December. "Everything was reminiscent of the Pitt game again." Reminiscent down to the angry e-mails and Facebook.com postings from a few West Virginia fanatics whom he labeled "idiots."

A pointed attackWest Virginia led the Big East in scoring the past two seasons and was second in 2005. Thus far, these Mountaineers have looked little like those teams:TeamW-LPpg.1. Cincinnati2-137.02. South Florida4-035.23. Connecticut4-030.84. Louisville2-130.35t. Pitt2-121.75t. West Virginia1-221.77. Syracuse1-320.28. Rutgers0-313.3

"I couldn't tell you how many times I watched that kick over and over in my head," McAfee said. "I might have watched that kick 5,000 times. I felt terrible. I felt bad for my teammates. A missed kick. As soon as I hit it, I thought it was going to go in. Then it clanked."

His parents and brother were inside Colorado's Folsom Field, though mother Sally couldn't bear to look. "But she heard it clank," her eldest son said. "Off the left upright. My parents take it harder than I do."

McAfee took it hard, all right.

"My personality is, I want to do everything perfectly," he said.

So the worst day melted into his worst weekend, waiting to expunge the memory, replete with soundtrack. It didn't matter that West Virginia had the ball first in that overtime, so Colorado conceivably could've mustered a touchdown on its possession, instead of Aric Goodman's 25-yard field goal, and won just the same. Yet the ball was on McAfee's foot, which was where he and West Virginia (1-2) wanted it, and he ... nearly broke the upright. "That was one of the hardest balls I ever hit in my life," he said.

It wasn't until yesterday when he got the chance to attempt actual field goals: snapper Adam Hughes to holder Jeremy Kash to McAfee's right foot.

McAfee attempted 24 kicks from the left hash, maybe another 20 from the right hash. He felt good about the results. For such things will be his focus the next time he's thrust into that game situation: his recent successes.

"I got to move on for myself and the team."

He figures a small group of apparently misguided followers should move on as well. Same as with the post-Pitt reaction, McAfee received hate e-mail and missives from angry Web slingers. This time, though, there was no vandalism against his car, no threats.

"There are still some idiots," McAfee said. "There are some people I'd like to run into in person. If people are going to act the way they act, it's kind of sad. Oh, well."

He felt for his fellow seniors, for teammates off to a 1-2 start unseen in five years.

"I always like to do my part. It kind of stunk that I didn't. I let down my team," McAfee said. "I'm ready for the next game," Marshall come Saturday at Mountaineer Field.


NOTES -- Backup Jarrett Brown will play Saturday, but not at quarterback, coach Bill Stewart said "Putting that big rascal back there is advantageous." ... Special-teams ace Jim Lewis got hurt at Colorado. ... North Carolina investigators are interviewing West Virginia media about allegations of police brutality against East Carolina students who rushed the field Sept. 6 after that Pirates upset.


Chuck Finder can be reached at cfinder@post-gazette.com .


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