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WVU Football Top Ten Plays of 2016: Number 10

Justin Arndt started the season with a bang

Missouri v West Virginia Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The play: 3rd and 6 at WVU 16 (11:21 - 4th) Drew Lock sacked by Justin Arndt for a loss of 9 yards to the WVirg 25

The Setup:

West Virginia and Missouri will always be joined together in Big 12 history. When the Big 12 was at its peak, the conference had Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri, along with Oklahoma, Okie State, Texas, Baylor. When Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-12, the conference shook but survived. Then the SEC expanded and stole Texas A&M and Missouri. The Big 12 responded by snatching up TCU to replace Texas A&M and West Virginia to replace Missouri.

After a year of adjustment, including a 5-7 season in their initial SEC season, the Missouri Tigers saw the highest highs in the Southeastern Conference. Posting a 23-5 record during 2012 - 2013 seasons, it appeared that the Tigers were climbing into the upper echelon of football powers.

West Virginia, however, struggled during its transition to the Big 12. Following a disappointing 7-6 season in 2012, the Mountaineers posted their first losing season in ten years in 2013 before following that up with a 7-6 season in 2014 then a 8-5 season in 2015. The Tigers and Mountaineers would look to prove who got the better end of the team swap at the beginning of the 2016 season.

As the game progressed, the Mountaineers used a combination of suffocating defense and efficient offense to take control of the game. As the 4th quarter started, the Mountaineers held onto a 23-3 lead but Missouri began to put a drive together. Starting at their own 28 yard line, the Tigers methodically marched down the field all the way to the West Virginia 16. If the Tigers were able to get a touchdown here, the game is 23-10, with most of the 4th quarter to play. A three and out by West Virginia and a quick strike by the Tigers and suddenly a 20 point lead has evaporated to a 7 point margin with 7 minutes left. That is somewhere no Mountaineer fan wants to be.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was staring at 3rd and 6 from the West Virginia 16 and looking to gain another first down. As the play began, Missouri has three receivers in a bunch formation to the short side of the field. The player on the line of scrimmage ducks under a jam and runs a slant towards the middle of the field. The three defensive backs for West Virginia get caught up in the wash and the safety lets the player get behind him. If Lock gets this ball off, its a touchdown.

Lock never sees Justin Arndt tearing in from the backside of this play. Unblocked, Arndt absolutely crushes Lock. Justin hit Drew Lock so hard, he took him out of his shoe. The sack pushed Missouri back to the 25 and made it fourth down. Missouri attempted a 42 yard field goal, which they missed. The missed field goal sealed the deal for the Tigers. They would eventually get a garbage touchdown against the second team defense but nothing else.

When I think back about the Missouri game, I keep seeing Arndt crushing Drew Lock on an endless loop.