The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 8, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN - Bitancurt off to perfect start as WVU kicker

(Continued)

MORGANTOWN —

He was surrounded by a sea of gold shirts, save for a small section wearing the Liberty red.

“I’d never been out there before 60,000 before,” he said.

That is what makes opening day always a roll of the dice. No matter what you did in high school, no matter what you did in practice, when the lights come on and 57,950 critics are in attendance, no one knows how you will react.

Bitancurt expected to be nervous, but said he was more “excited and pumped up than nervous” when he came through the tunnel and out onto the field.

Coach Bill Stewart had a plan in mind as the game began, a plan that was set up in part because he didn’t want to put too much pressure on a first-time placekicker.

“I told the team last Friday, from the 35-yard line to the 25-yard line, we are in four-down territory. We will not kick a field goal. Once we hit

the 25-yard line, then we’ll think about a field goal. I did not want to put a lot of strain on that youngster,” Stewart said.

Well, first possession the Mountaineers drove to the Liberty 21, just inside the perimeter for a field goal try. Bitancurt hit from 38 yards out.

His collegiate career was three minutes and seven seconds old.

With 2:04 left in the half, another drive stalled at the Liberty 18 and the Mountaineers leading by 7. It was an important kick, one that Bitancurt calmly canned from 35 yards.

Two for two now, and he would get another shot before halftime as a WVU drive puttered out at the Liberty 28, a bit further than Stewart wanted to his young kicker to kick from. But only 20 seconds remained in the half, so he sent him out there.

Just as calmly he nailed it, this from 45 yards.

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Bob Herzel
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