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The 12th man

Some strange things happen on the football field. Things that are hard to explain. We see them every year, so the fact that the Cougars and their fans watched an almost certain victory dissolve right before their eyes last Friday night was not the first time that a player has given up the ball just as the referee was about to throw his arms into the air, signaling a touchdown.
Several years ago, Virginia Tech had a fancy running back by the name of Stacey Henley. At a game at East Carolina, Stacy outran the entire East Carolina team, galloping toward the goal line and a sure touchdown. He must have been tasting victory, and wondering whether he would spike the ball in the endzone, or if he would just drop to his knees after crossing the goal. He didn’t have to think too much about it, because as he crossed the twenty yard line, that spirit that I call “the twelfth man” on the ECU team struck, and Stacy fell, fumbled, and the Carolina team recovered it.
Another time, during a crucial game, a Tech running back wes headed for a sure touchdown with the football held loosely in his left hand. Just as he was about to score, the ball slipped from his hand, and onto the ground. It was recovered by the other team. Then there was the time when Tech was playing James Madison, and Michael Vick almost ended his career by doing a flip into the enemy’s endzone and breaking his foot.
On several occasions Tech has had to contend with interference by enemies on the sidelines. Just a few years ago, a Tech runner was headed toward a touchdown when a U.Va. coach on the sideline stuck out his foot in an attempt to trip the runner. This same thing happened in a much earlier game against Villanova, when one of those Wildcats jumped from the bench, ran onto the field, and as the touchdown-bound Hokie ran past, made a beautiful tackle. It is very likely that this one illegal play cost Villanova the game.
It hasn’t always been the other team that caused Tech problems. I’m sure we all remember the night several years back when Tech and Georgia Tech were to play at Blacksburg, and a severe electrical storm hit at about kick-off time, and the teams were unable to take the field. The electrical storm reached down and struck Mr. ESPN’s (Lee Corso) automobile, destroying it completely. That is the first time that I ever heard tell of a football game being cancelled by weather conditions
Another thing that stands out in my memory is the time Tech was playing dreaded West Virginia. The WVU Mascot, who was a mountaineer with a rifle, was prancing around in the Tech endzone. The rifle suddenly fired, blowing one of the mountaineer’s finger completely off. The Tech band members spent the halftime intermission searching for the lost finger, to no avail.
Strange things happen at football games.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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The 12th man

Some strange things happen on the football field. Things that are hard to explain. We see them every year, so the fact that the Cougars and their fans watched an almost certain victory dissolve right before their eyes last Friday night was not the first time that a player has given up the ball just as the referee was about to throw his arms into the air, signaling a touchdown.
Several years ago, Virginia Tech had a fancy running back by the name of Stacey Henley. At a game at East Carolina, Stacy outran the entire East Carolina team, galloping toward the goal line and a sure touchdown. He must have been tasting victory, and wondering whether he would spike the ball in the endzone, or if he would just drop to his knees after crossing the goal. He didn’t have to think too much about it, because as he crossed the twenty yard line, that spirit that I call “the twelfth man” on the ECU team struck, and Stacy fell, fumbled, and the Carolina team recovered it.
Another time, during a crucial game, a Tech running back wes headed for a sure touchdown with the football held loosely in his left hand. Just as he was about to score, the ball slipped from his hand, and onto the ground. It was recovered by the other team. Then there was the time when Tech was playing James Madison, and Michael Vick almost ended his career by doing a flip into the enemy’s endzone and breaking his foot.
On several occasions Tech has had to contend with interference by enemies on the sidelines. Just a few years ago, a Tech runner was headed toward a touchdown when a U.Va. coach on the sideline stuck out his foot in an attempt to trip the runner. This same thing happened in a much earlier game against Villanova, when one of those Wildcats jumped from the bench, ran onto the field, and as the touchdown-bound Hokie ran past, made a beautiful tackle. It is very likely that this one illegal play cost Villanova the game.
It hasn’t always been the other team that caused Tech problems. I’m sure we all remember the night several years back when Tech and Georgia Tech were to play at Blacksburg, and a severe electrical storm hit at about kick-off time, and the teams were unable to take the field. The electrical storm reached down and struck Mr. ESPN’s (Lee Corso) automobile, destroying it completely. That is the first time that I ever heard tell of a football game being cancelled by weather conditions
Another thing that stands out in my memory is the time Tech was playing dreaded West Virginia. The WVU Mascot, who was a mountaineer with a rifle, was prancing around in the Tech endzone. The rifle suddenly fired, blowing one of the mountaineer’s finger completely off. The Tech band members spent the halftime intermission searching for the lost finger, to no avail.
Strange things happen at football games.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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