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Thursday, September 19, 2013
Forty years ago, Danny Bartlett swore he would never leave another football game early.
I'll wager he hasn't.
Danny, when not working as an anesthesiologist, was an avid West Virginia University football fan.
He lived across the street from me for a time while I was in high school, and one day in 1973 he asked the following question:
"Hey, West Virginia is playing at Maryland on Saturday. Do you want to ride up with me to College Park?"
So began the trip that ended all too soon.
Most of it was a blur. Being a basketball junkie, I remember checking out Maryland's Cole Field House, which had hosted the NCAA men's Final Four only 3 1⁄2 years earlier.
What I didn't recall was that West Virginia's football team was coached that day by Bobby Bowden and that Maryland was led by former Virginia Tech coach Jerry Claiborne.
The football game - which was WVU's season opener on Sept. 15 - didn't offer much in the way of excitement. Or so it seemed.
The game was tied late in the fourth quarter when WVU lost a fumble at its 1-yard line, leading to a touchdown that put Maryland up 13-6.
That was enough for Danny.
"Let's go," he said. "We've got a long drive back."
We had barely set foot in the parking lot when West Virginia connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the kickoff, tying the game at 13.
We were still in the car listening to the radio play-by-play when WVU's Danny Buggs caught a Maryland punt, reversed his field, somehow avoided a wave of tacklers and returned the ball 69 yards for the game-winning TD with nine seconds left.
Final: West Virginia 20, Maryland 13.
WVU plays Maryland on Saturday in Baltimore. I'll be thinking about Danny Buggs' punt return.
And Danny Bartlett's decision to punt to the parking lot.
I'll bet he's still kicking himself somewhere.
NORTHSIDE 17, Salem 14. Northside's only win in this series since 2002 came in overtime on its home field two years ago.
WILLIAM BYRD 28, Magna Vista 25. Byrd's last 4-0 start was in 1999 when the Terriers finished 9-2.
LORD BOTETOURT 38, Richlands 14. Richlands is known for bringing a crowd, but this is a 298-mile round trip for a regular-season game.
E.C. GLASS 22, William Fleming 14. Fleming's last three games against Glass were losses by a combined eight points.
GILES 41, Narrows 6. Brett Whitlow of Giles is averaging a Timesland-best 194.5 rushing yards per game.
PATRICK HENRY 28, Albemarle 7. After tonight's trip to Charlottesville, PH won't have to leave Roanoke to play a game for the rest of the regular-season.
BLACKSBURG 21, Radford 20. The last time these two programs played each other in 1993, Blacksburg's roster included a wide receiver named Shane Beamer.
GLENVAR 31, Grayson County 29. Four of Glenvar's next five games are on the road, beginning with this one.
HIDDEN VALLEY 21, Bassett 14. Pretty good rivalry. These teams have split their last four games against each other with the Titans winning the last two.
CAVE SPRING 24, Alleghany 17. One of these teams will feel pretty good about itself with a 2-2 record after this game.
CHRISTIANSBURG 24, Franklin County 14. Christiansburg has won both meetings in this series including last year's 31-28 overtime classic in Rocky Mount.
PULASKI COUNTY 35, Staunton River 7. Tough stretch for Staunton River. The Golden Eagles play Northside and William Byrd in the next two weeks.
NORTH CROSS 32, Blue Ridge 22. North Cross plays its home opener Saturday after three straight road games.
ALTAVISTA 40, Galax 36. Altavista is one of five Dogwood District teams that is still unbeaten.
AUBURN 35, Roanoke Catholic 13. One school made the Group 1A West playoffs last year with a 2-8 record. Auburn already has two victories.
PENDLETON COUNTY, W.Va. 21, Bath County 14. Bath closed the regular season last year with a home win over Pendleton.
HOLSTON 27, Bland County 19. Bland has lost to Hogoheegee District teams each of the past two weeks and now the Bears go on the road to Damascus.
COVINGTON 30, Eastern Montgomery 20. EastMont hosts a second Pioneer District team after losing 21-13 to Bath County in the season opener.
CRAIG COUNTY 25, Montcalm, W.Va. 16. Craig hopes to even its record with a win over a program that has been a tonic for Timesland teams for several years.
DAN RIVER 33, Martinsville 13. The Bulldogs are looking for their first win of the season against a Dan River team that already has beaten Magna Vista.
GEORGE WYTHE 24, Floyd County 12. Winfred Beale's next win at Floyd will be career victory No. 200.
MARION 28, Rural Retreat 6. Marion has a decent shot to win its next four games and threaten for a playoff Group 2A West playoff berth.
FORT CHISWELL 33, James River 16. The last meeting between these two teams was a 38-14 Fort Chiswell win in the 2009 Region C Division 2 playoffs.
LIBERTY 36, Harrisonburg 32. Harrisonburg hasn't played since giving up 63 points to John Handley at home two weeks ago.
GREENBRIER EAST, W.VA. 28, Parry McCluer 20. Parry McCluer goes for a second win this year over a much larger school.
AMHERST COUNTY 20, Rockbridge County 13. Did Amherst's early schedule of Northside, George Washington and Lake Taylor pay dividends or do damage?
CHILHOWIE 23, Tazewell 20. Tazewell should be accustomed to road trips. This is the fourth one for the Bulldogs already.
Last week: 19-8 .704
Overall: 60-21 .741
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