MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior kicker Casey Legg has been automatic for West Virginia this season.
The veteran Mountain State product entered Thursday night’s matchup versus Baylor a perfect 8-for-8 on field goal attempts and 19-for-19 on extra-point tries.
Legg booted five PATs against the Bears, and made a pair of chip-shot field goals. The final of those short kicks had the highest stakes.
With just over 30 seconds remaining in the game, Legg trotted toward the north endzone with the score tied and a win very much hanging in the balance. Despite a thrilling victory being on the line, Legg was calm under the pressure.
He wasn’t thinking about the kick. He was thinking about something, or more specifically someone, else.
“Honestly, I was thinking ‘I wonder what my mom’s doing up in the stands right now,'” Legg, still full of adrenaline, said after West Virginia’s 43-40 win. “So that was floating in my head, and then I was just praying it out.”
Legg said he kept the same routine he always has when the West Virginia offense crosses midfield.
The Charleston, West Virginia native, who grew up a soccer player and is now trying to keep a simple mindset while kicking field goals for the largest university in his home state, said he never had a game-winning goal “like this” as a standout at Cross Lanes Christian.
West Virginia’s offense set him up in a good spot, as he prefers to kick from the left hash mark.
“I felt really confident from there,” Legg said.
The Preseason Lou Groza Award Watch List selection admitted that a shorter field goal attempt, which can be kicked at a more extreme angle at the collegiate level due to college football’s wider distance between hash marks, can be more nerve-wracking than a longer field goal attempt.
That wasn’t the case Thursday night, though.
“To be able to have some extra points, another field goal – another short field goal -, that was really helpful for me,” Legg said. “That gives me the confidence that [Austin] Brinkman’s going to snap it, Graeson [Malashevich] is going to hold it, and I’m going to see it. Just being able to see that over and over in the game really calms my nerves.”
Prior to the windup on his game-winning kick, Legg had successfully attempted four extra-point attempts and a 23-yard field goal. So, not only was he well-practiced in the game, he allowed his mind to focus on his mother in the stands, which further calmed him in the moment.
“She was not on the field [after the game], which is probably a good thing. She struggles, she definitely struggles,” Legg said. “I’m not sure if she watched, honestly. So, that’s typically the discussion after big kicks, or bigger kicks, is whether she was able to watch or not.”
Legg’s parents generally sit in the second deck of Milan Puskar Stadium. He knows where they are seated, but didn’t try to pick them out of the crowd as he walked on the field for his last kick of the game.
“I just try to push that out of my mind, and hoped that seeing them after the game would be a good time, after a big kick,” added Legg.