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WVU Football Top Ten Plays of 2016: Number 5

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Martell Pettaway burned a redshirt, then burned through the Cyclones defense.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The play: 2nd and Goal at ISU 4 (2:32 - 3rd) Martell Pettaway run for 4 yds for a TD, (Mike Molina KICK)

The Setup: I’m highlighting Pettaway’s score against Iowa State since it was the first of his career. It was also his first career game, after head coach Dana Holgorsen was forced to burn his redshirt in the 11th game of the season. West Virginia experienced extreme attrition at the running back spot this year: Rushel Shell, Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy all dealt with various injuries throughout the year. The Iowa State game was a culmination of Shell being unavailable and Crawford/McKoy being injured and/or hurt during the game.

Enter Martell Pettaway. The true freshman from Michigan wasn’t expected to play against Iowa State but Justin Crawford was injured early. Kennedy McKoy, who was injured against the Oklahoma Sooners, came on and was unable to perform despite scoring a touchdown. So it was now on Pettaway with 4:56 left in the first quarter against a hungry Iowa State team at home. Pettaway’s first collegiate carry was a 4-yard run. He would finish the first half with 10 carries for 91 yards.

As the Mountaineers continued to pile on the points, Pettaway churned out the yards. He wasn’t breaking big runs like Justin Crawford did against Oklahoma, but he wasn’t losing yards. 8 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards. Good healthy chunks of yardage were happening, putting West Virginia in manageable down and distances. Every now and then a big play with Pettaway would happen. On 2nd and 5, he had a 25 yard run. Three plays later, on 3rd and 12, the Mountaineers actually ran a running back screen. The play gained 25 yards.

None of that is the top play we are highlighting. We are highlighting the first touchdown of Pettaway’s career. With the Mountaineers clinging to a 28-19 lead, West Virginia took the field after trading punts with the Cyclones. This drive began with a huge Skyler Howard run for 38 yards. West Virginia followed this up with a 17 yard pass to Marcus Simms, who scored his first career touchdown earlier in this same game. Four straight Pettaway runs (3, 12, 8, and 7 yards) brought the ball down to the ISU one-yard line before a false start moved the ball back to the 6. No worries as Dana Holgorsen kept calling Pettaway’s number. A two-yard run set up 2nd and Goal at the Iowa State 4 when Pettaway weaved through the Iowa State defense, put his head down and kept his balance before falling into the end zone for his very first touchdown.

Pettaway would finish with 30 carries for 180 yards. Over the last three games of the season [vs. Oklahoma, @ Iowa State, vs. Baylor], the Mountaineers leading rusher totaled at least 180 yards. Crawford went for 331 against Oklahoma, Pettaway rushed for 180 against Iowa State and Crawford churned out 209 against Baylor. That is 720 yards in three games.

Enjoy the video below of Pettaway’s breakout game. Our highlighted play happens around the 1:30 mark.

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