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Wilson finds a place on 'Greatest Hits' list

December 31, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Quincy Wilson is one of the lucky ones.

The West Virginia University running back only used about 15 seconds worth of the 15 minutes of fame he's entitled to and will probably have it last for at least a year ... maybe a lifetime.

An instance that seemed like a blip on the screen of one player's career made a nation go "oooh" and a national sports network go "Wow."

Wilson's innocent screen pass-turned-memorable touchdown run against Miami was named college football's play of the year by ESPN. At the same time, it was the play that signaled West Virginia was coming out of the early-season funk which dropped it to 1-4 after the loss to Miami.

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"It's crazy," Wilson said. "I've seen all the plays and to see (mine) No. 1 is crazy."

The play with WVU trailing Miami 19-13 in the final two minutes of the game. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall dumped a lateral pass to Wilson on the left side.

Wilson slipped a tackle in the backfield, avoiding a loss, and jetted down the sideline, where he ran over Miami cornerback Brandon Meriweather at the 9 - causing the ooohs and Wows. Wilson didn't stop until he completed the 33-yard scoring run.

"It was just a bang-bang play," Wilson said. "I caught the ball and avoided the tackle. When (Miami's Vince Wilfolk) missed, I had open field down the sideline. When I got (to the 9, Meriweather) tried to take me down high and I powered through him. It was bang-bang."

It gave WVU a short-lived 20-19 lead, which it lost, along with the game, on a field goal as time expired.

The encouraging Miami loss came on the heels of a embarrassing blowout at the hands of Maryland, the Mountaineers' foe for Thursday's Gator Bowl. WVU won its confidence in the near-miss to Miami and went on to win its last seven games.

"We learned we have to play hard against Maryland," Wilson said. "We played lackadaisical and you can't do that. We took a different approach against Miami. In the Miami game, we played hard but we still lost, but we played hard."

WVU turned to Wilson to be the focal point of its offense, which has given the Mountaineers more stability and diversity. Wilson's running opened up WVU's passing, instead of the opposite formula used in the first five games.

Wilson responded with 975 of his 1,331 yards in the last seven games he played, including one over 200 and three over 175 yards. He has 2,559 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career.

When WVU faces Maryland in their rivalry rematch on Thursday, Wilson will ironically face another player who made the play of the year, at least by the Terrapins' standards. Strong-side linebacker Leroy Ambush, who didn't receive as much acclaim for his game-turning hit on North Carolina State quarterback Phillip Rivers, will be one of the obstacles trying to slow Wilson and WVU off the highlight reel.

Obviously, Wilson will be trying to prevent that from happening, which would stop WVU's three-game losing streak to the Terps.

But if it doesn't work, ESPN's play of the year will keep the work of Quincy Wilson memorable for a long time to come.

"If it would become one of the best plays every, I would say 'Wow.'" Wilson said. "If it lasts for five years or 10 years from now, then that would be saying something."

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