Countdown to Kickoff: No. 86 John Pennington

He's known for one of the greatest plays in Backyard Brawl history
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The West Virginia Mountaineers are 86 days from the 2021 season opener versus an old familiar rival, the Maryland Terrapins. As the countdown continues to kickoff by jersey numbers and Mountaineer moments, we highlight some of the greats ever to wear the old gold and blue. Today, we look at former receiver, John Pennington. 

John Pennington

The former walkon from Charleston, West Virginia, was known for his hard-nosed play on the outside and doing whatever it took to get on the field, twice earning the Ideal Mountaineer Man award and received the 2003 Tom Nickolich Memorial Award from Blue and Gold News for outstanding dedication by a walk-on in the WVU program. 

His stats (15 receptions, 164 yards and two touchdowns for his career) don't reflect most Mountaineer legends that are synonymous with program lore but "The Catch" against Pitt in the 2003 Backyard Brawl is one of the great moments in Mountaineer football history.  

West Virginia was trailing 24-17 and facing a fourth and four from the Pitt 28 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half. Head coach Rich Rodriguez sent his offense back out onto the field. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall received the snap from the shotgun, dropped back to pass, and tossed a dime over the head of defensive back Malcom Postell as Pennington laid out and snagged the ball for the 28-yard touchdown pass. Mountaineer Field erupted as teammates surrounded Pennington. 

The momentum carried over into the second half, and the Mountaineers pounded Larry Fitzgerald and the No. 16 Panthers 52-31. 

Pennington is heading into his fifth season as the head football coach at West Virginia State. His former Mountaineer teammate Quincy Wilson is his running backs coach, who had four rushing touchdowns in the 2003 win over Pitt. 

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