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West Virginia Football: Top Ten Plays Of 2015 - Number Four

Continuing our series of the top ten plays of the 2015 season with Karl Joseph's three interceptions against Georgia Southern in the season opener. Karl cemented his first-round status with three interceptions all in the same quarter.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
The play:

2nd and 8 at GASO 27 (14:55 - 3rd) Favian Upshaw pass intercepted Karl Joseph return for no gain to the GeoSo 46

3rd and 7 at GASO 21 (12:37 - 3rd) Favian Upshaw pass intercepted Karl Joseph return for no gain to the GeoSo 28

4th and 9 at WVU 28 (4:19 - 3rd) Favian Upshaw pass intercepted Karl Joseph return for no gain to the WVirg 15

The setup:

WVU took a 16-0 lead into halftime but many fans were still anxious. If the Eagles were able to convert on any rushes, this game could turn quickly. Karl Joseph took over in the third quarter and made sure that did not happen.

As the Eagles began play in the second half, they gained two yards on their first play. On 2nd-and-8, quarterback Favian Upshaw believed the Mountaineers jumped offside and he had a free play. He floated a pass down the right sideline. Karl Joseph tracked the ball and jumped in front the Eagles receiver while getting a foot down in-bounds. It would be Karl's first of three interceptions this game.

West Virginia did nothing with Karl's gift and immediately went three-and-out. Nick O'Toole pinned the Eagles at their own 8 yard line. The Eagles gained a first down on two plays, then followed that with a run for no gain and a 3-yard run by upback Matt Breida. On a play nearly reminiscent of his interception as a freshman against Texas Tech, a pass thrown behind the receiver was trapped by Joseph. He corralled the pass for his second interception in six plays.

While Joseph was intercepting Georgia Southern passes, Skyler Howard was completing passes and building a lead over the Eagles. As the third quarter began to wind down, the Eagles found themselves in a 30-0 hole. GSU put together a good series, taking over at their own 25 and marching into Mountaineer territory.

The Eagles gained 13 yards on a run followed by 17 yards on a pass. WVU committed a facemask penalty to give the Eagles even more yards. As Georgia Southern got to the West Virginia 25, it appeared that the shutout the defense was hoping for may finally be gone.

The Eagles gained 4 yards on a run but immediately lost those yards when Noble Nwachukwu sacked Upshaw for 4 yards. An incomplete pass put the Eagles in a 4th and 9 decision. Do they go for it and let WVU know they weren't quitting or kick a field goal and be happy with the points? The Eagles chose to go for it on 4th down.

This interception is the interception many scouts looked at during the NFL draft. Upshaw was in shotgun and fires a 15 yard out pass to BJ Johnson that would have been good for a first down. Karl Joseph stepped in front of the pass and completed the interception trifecta.

Why it's a top ten play:

Multiple interceptions in any single game will get you consideration in a season top ten. Three in one game definitely deserves to be on the list. Three in one quarter, that is a no-brainer. Each interception showed a different skill set of Karl's and helped cement his place as the top safety in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The first interception showed Karl's ability to track a ball in flight, turn and run and body coordination. The second showed Karl's amazing reflexes and his ability to adjust to balls in flight. The third showed the type of anticipation and reaction that NFL scouts dream about with their cornerbacks.


Previous Entries

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Ten

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Nine

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Eight

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Seven

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Six

2015 Top Ten Plays - Number Five