Get Adobe Flash player

Heart Of Dallas Bowl: Utes Down Mountain Men

December 28th, 2017 · Tags:Cities · Sports · Uncategorized · Wi-Fi

TD Celebration, Called Back

“Never give up on your team.”  I preached that to my kids for years, the kids that I coached, or anyone who would listen.  It makes me a little furious when I see fans leaving the stadium before the game ends … even if their team is behind by three scores or whatever. Never give up.  Plus … just support your team, through the good and bad … (Ha! I guess some people never saw a famous Mike Leach come-from-behind-win … I digress …)

So it was disheartening to see West Virginia fans slipping out early from the cold/wet Dallas environs at the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in the old Cotton Bowl.  (Yes … I have been calling it the Yardbird Bowl, in honor of Zaxby’s extra crispy …)  I mean, the game had so much potential going in, despite the two teams’ records … West Virginia 7-5 and Utah 6-6.  Should have been pretty evenly matched, except for one minor detail … West Virginia was without their star quarterback Will Grier … out with a bad finger (I had to say that rock ‘n’ roll pun … I digress).


Three Utes


Mountain Cheer


Huntley, Protection

Sad to say, I felt like I too had betrayed the Mountaineers.  No, West Virginia isn’t “my team,” but I was favoring them slightly since they have a former Texas Tech/Mike Leach protege at the helm in Coach Dana Holgorsen, but also because the Mountaineers hail from the Big 12 Conference.  So, when I left the field and took the elevator back up to the warmer pressbox, escaping the cold drizzle, I felt like I had turned my back on them.  In reality, I would have gotten out of the cold sooner, but I was waiting for the Mountaineers to make a big play and breathe some life into the game … for a photo opp.  It hadn’t happened.


Up The Ladder, Gary Jennings Jr.

For series after series, I had positioned my camera and my person behind the end zone anticipating some big play from the Mountaineers.  With about 6 minutes left, I gave up.

I never even got to hear the WV mountain mamas sing that song by the Texas Tech guy … “Country Roads, Take Me Home …” (John Denver … Blue Ridge Mountains … Google it.)



So, I returned to my computer upstairs — warming my hands wit Wi-Fi — looked out the window down at the game, just as The Mountaineers scored a touchdown with a few minutes left on the clock — an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ka’Raun White … and of course, I also missed the Mountainmen recovered the ensuing on-side kick.  See!  See!  Never give up.  It ain’t fat until the over lady sings … Wait.  Reverse that.  But … the comeback was not to be.  Utah held on, 28-14.  Perhaps the most interesting stat to me — The WV Punter Bill Kinney had a career day: 424 yards punting, with four of those kicks pinning the opponent behind their 20 yard line.  But sometimes kicks just aren’t enough …

Demari Simpkins Catch

For The Utes, it was their fourth winning season in a row, as they got on the bus at 7-6 for the year.  The 2017 installment of the HOD Bowl is Utah’s fifth consecutive bowl win, btw. The Ute’s stingy defense held the normally potent WV offensive to 153 yards total.  That could be an individual stat — a mediocre one at that — in WV’s home conference.  And while the Ute D didn’t give up much, they took freely, forcing four turnovers down from the mountain on the day.  Zack Moss carried the load for the Utes, with 150 yards on 20 carries.  Ute QB Tyler Huntley won the air battle for the day, 12 of 26 for 165 yards. Huntley added 57 yards with his legs, on 25 carries, with two touchdowns to show for it.  The other bright spot for Utah — Daren Carrington’s four catches on the day, totaling 62 yards.  Matt Gay was three for three on Utah field goals.  And Boobie Hobbs had 46 positive yards on three punt returns, and we are grateful so we could work his name into the blog.  Thanks Boobie!



So it was a cold game and it was not pretty.  It was not exciting, excluding those few choice moments at the end.  It was the kid of day when I had to balance between being upset and also laughing at the West Virginia fans heckling their own sideline: “Open up your playbook, Dana” … perhaps forgetting the starting quarterback’s lack of playing time this season.  “No, you can’t get on the plane yet!” “Beer here!” And, the favorite: “It’s not as cold when you’re winning.”

This game seemed to be one of those that might not have justified its existence (well unless you’re on the team or have a family member on the team for Utah. They have big families too … sorry … I digress.) Have you heard all that … the criticism of so many bowl games now that teams with losing records or .500 seasons are finding their way into post-season play?

Well for the record, I say stretch the football season to go year round.  Nothing in sports is as exciting as college football.  It’s good even on a bad day.

The Art Of Football


And sometimes there are some unexpected diamonds in the rough.  Alumni of my school were skeptical of our alma mater Texas Tech deserving a bowl game with a record of 6-6.  Maybe they were right.  Maybe they are now gloating that Tech lost, ending the season 6-7, after their bowl.  But, I guarantee you, the hot/cold Red Raiders gave the unproven, now 11-2 South Florida Bulls their money’s worth, carrying an upset bid down to 18 ticks on the clock.  Some maintained the game should never have been played.  In actuality, for those who watched, it was one of the better games of the entire bowl season.  Never give up on your team.  I digress …

Now … end of soapbox and time to get into some in-depth, sideline reporting.  If I accomplished nothing on game day at the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but this, I score it a win.  I have always been intrigued by the West Virginia mascot.  The bearded, buckskinned one in the deliciously politically incorrect coon skin cap.  Love it.  I’ve seen that mountain person on TV dozens of times, and dang it … I was gonna grill him with some real “activist” type questions.

Lucky for me, he was in a pretty good mood, early in the fourth quarter, despite the weather … and the scoreboard … and the game … and the scent of wet, re-purposed deer flesh …  

Mountain Unit


WV Mountaineer

After this coonskin-capper-nik put his flintlock rifle down, and quit jumping around scaring everyone, I posed this heady question to the professorial-gone-survivalist looking Trevor Kiess.  (You know how those bearded, professiorial types love a good philosophical question, over at the coffee shop …)

“So. I have a deeply philosophical question for you, sir.  Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett?”  Ha … he looked all serious for the first part of my question, but loaded up a big smile for the payload at the end.

“Hmmm. That’s good.  That’s real good.  … Never thought about it.”  (WH-AAAT?) “I guess I’d have to say Davy Crocket.”  Ah … nice … a purist!  (But hey, it’s not like he was going offend actor Fess Parker’s ancestors, either way he answered. I digress …  Google it.)



Continuing this terse, hard line of questioning, I fired the obvious follow up to such monumental tv trivia.  So, hairy dude, “Ginger or Maryann?”  Ha … this time I could tell the topic hit the mountain man where he lived … perhaps too many seasons in a log cabin in the woods … I don’t know.

“Ginger or Maryann?”

“Oh.”  (Huge smile.)  “Maryann!”

Well played, buckskins!

Know what I sayin?