Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Pat McAfee’s gold team tops Pat White’s blue team in WVU’s annual spring game

MORGANTOWN — Pat McAfee’s team topped Pat White’s team as the two WVU greats returned to Morgantown Saturday to coach on opposite sides of the Mountaineers’ Gold-Blue game inside Milan Puskar Stadium.

“I’m very thankful for Pat White and Pat McAfee coming back,” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “I wanted to do something where they could be around our players.”

McAfee’s Gold team won 34-24 over White’s Blue team. McAfee’s team scored 16 points from competitions and 18 points in live 11-on-11 play. White’s team scored nine points from competitions and 15 in live play.

Brown said he felt it was important to get two program greats like McAfee and White back to be able to interact with the current players.

“I’m very appreciative of them, that added something,” Brown said. “Our guys were excited about that and I know that our fans were.

“For them to take the time and invest time back into here, that meant a lot to everyone.”

Brown said he feels it’s important to teach current players about the program’s history. Players are young enough now that they might now have grown up watching White, one of the best players in WVU’s history, and don’t know enough about him.

“When you show them the highlights they’re like ‘Whoa, okay,’” Brown said. “Rasheed (Marshall) introduced him in front of the team today and it was about a five-minute introduction because he went through all of his accolades.”

“He’s a legend,” current WVU quarterback Garrett Greene said. “Right when I committed here I really started watching his stuff and the things he could do were really electrifying and really fun to watch.”

West Virginia Clay Ash rushes the ball during the Gold-Blue game on Saturday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)


Through four separate portions of live play, WVU’s offense managed to score two touchdowns and two field goals, while the defense picked off three passes.

Backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol had a very strong showing, completing 10 of 19 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown to receiver Hudson Clement. 

It wasn’t all good for the redshirt sophomore, however, as he threw a red-zone interception six seconds before halftime.

“He’d like to have that one throw right before half back,” Brown said. “Those are great teaching moments. It’s hard to replicate that in practice so I’m glad we have it on tape so we can teach off of it. The deal is you’ve got six seconds so you want to make sure you either throw it in the endzone or you’ve got to kill the clock and give yourself a chance to get three points. The only thing you can’t do there is turn it over.”

Greene completed 8-13 passes for 79 yards with an interception. He ran six times for 13 with all of his runs being blown dead at the first sign of contact.

“It’s hard on the quarterbacks because Garrett would’ve had a couple of really explosive runs,” Brown said. “If we were doing stats, he probably would’ve rushed for over 100 yards.”

Walk-on quarterback Jackson Krist threw a late touchdown to receiver Preston Fox, finishing 3-3 for 48 yards. Scott Kean was intercepted on a last-second Hail Mary attempt.

Traylon Ray led all receivers with four catches for 55 yards.

Walk-on running back Clay Ash got the majority of looks out of the backfield. Ash carried the ball six times and caught two passes for 34 total yards. 

On defense, cornerback Ayden Garnes, linebacker Josiah Trotter and safety Aden Tagaloa-Nelson collected the interceptions. True freshmen Obinna Onwuka and Elijah Kinsler were credited with a sack each.

Trotter and fellow linebacker Trey Lathan both impressed in their returns from season-ending injuries. They both had three tackles.

True freshman safety Zae Jennings made an impact with three tackles and a tackle for loss.

Starting kicker Michael Hayes made a 44-yard field goal while backup RJ Kocan booted one from 54 yards.

West Virginia’s Avery Wilcox was selected as the walk-on player of the year during the Gold-Blue game on Saturday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)


Redshirt junior safety Avery Wilcox was awarded the 2024 Tommy Nickolich Memorial Award at halftime as the team’s most outstanding walk-on.

“Whenever they called my name, I was definitely surprised,” Wilcox said. “I’m glad that it happened, it’s an honor to be recognized with an award like that.”

Wilcox is following in the footsteps of his father, Ray Wilcox, who also walked on at WVU and won the Nickolich Award in 1992.

“I thought it was extremely special for his dad to win the award,” Brown said. “And I didn’t know that. We chose the winner before I knew that.”

Despite growing up in South Carolina, Wilcox said he grew up a WVU fan thanks to his father.

“I’ve heard some stories. He tells me the numbers he lifted and the plays that he made. He loves looking back with me,” Wilcox said. “He set a great example for me coming into this program and understanding the standard that needed to be met.”

Wilcox has played in 15 games as a Mountaineer. He grabbed his first career interception in last year’s victory over Duquesne.

“He really struggled here in year one from a football-playing perspective and he worked,” Brown said. “He’s made himself into a really good special teams player. It was a two, three-year process, but he stayed with it.”

Wilcox said he’s been able to lean on his father when dealing with any hardships as a walk-on.

“Knowing my dad went through a similar struggle, it was easy to be able to confide in him,” he said. “He offered me advice throughout the process. Being able to go through it with other walk-ons was a big thing for me.”

Also at halftime, the Iron Mountaineer Award, given to the most outstanding performers in WVU’s offseason strength and conditioning program, was awarded to Greene, Fox, offensive lineman Wyatt Milum, defensive lineman Sean Martin and long snapper Austin Brinkman.