A look back: 1962 West Virginia team makes good on coach’s prediction

MORGANTOWN — Back in the good old, pre-social media days, football teams usually did their very best not to antagonize their opponents with what was known as “bulletin board material.” You know, boastful statements that were cut out of newspaper articles and tacked up in the locker room that provided extra incentive to the opposition.

Well, before WVU’s season opener Sept. 22, 1962, against Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt, Mountaineers first-year line coach Hal Hunter must not have gotten the memo, because he was specifically quoted in days leading up to the Saturday afternoon game as follows:

“We can beat Vanderbilt by two touchdowns. You can quote me on that.”

The gauntlet thus thrown, it was up to WVU to defend their coach’s confident declaration, despite the fact that the offense would be led by junior quarterback Jerry Yost who had, at game time, logged exactly 14 minutes of varsity experience.

But, if you can back it up, it isn’t boasting, and the Mountaineer Field capacity crowd couldn’t have been happier with the complete performance of coach Gene Corum’s squad. On WVU’s second offensive possession, Yost engineered an impressive 82-yard drive that was capped by his 1-yard TD sneak. The extra point was missed, but the 6-0 lead remained.

Vandy drove to the WVU 8 early in the second quarter, mostly on triple-threat quarterback Hank Lesesne’s 54-yard run, but WVU defensive back Pete Goimarac’s interception squelched the threat, and the Commodores never threatened again. WVU immediately embarked on an 87-yard drive, finished off on a 28-yard pass from Yost to end Gene Heeter to double the lead to 12-0. Later in the half, a third extended touchdown drive, this one covering 78 yards, featured a 42-yard rollout run from Yost and running back Tom Woodeshick’s 2-yard scoring run to extend the lead to 18-0 at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Mountaineers closed out the dominating day with a 97-yard drive. The final play, in the books as a 1-yard touchdown pass from Yost to Jim Moss, was actually a fourth-down connection that covered all of one foot, but that score and a successful two-point conversion made the final score 24-0.

Yost was terrific, leading WVU in rushing with 82 yards and a TD while also completing 6 of 7 passes for 87 yards and another score, but it was coach Hunter’s line that made the difference, completely controlling both lines of scrimmage. The Mountaineers out-gained their SEC opponent 414-176, with almost a third of those yards coming on that one long scramble by Lesesne.

After the game, a beaming Hunter was able to congratulate his charges with a final happy — and perhaps relieved — quote:

“How d’ya like them apples, and you can quote me on that, too!”

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