MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After starting the year with two tackles-for-loss at Pitt, Dante Stills has only added two more over the past five games.
“I feel like I’m missing a lot of opportunities to make that play. There are times where I get stuck down the middle or wrong eyes in the wrong gap,” Stills said. “That stuff happens. I came into this season not worried about making every play, I just want to do my job and do a lot. I know a lot of teams are going off me and where I line up so I just want everybody to do their job and the play will be made by whoever is there.”
On Thursday, Stills was the guy who made the play. With just over three minutes left in the game, he recorded his fourth TFL of the season. That play put him in a tie with Grant Wiley for the most career TFLs in WVU history at 47.5, but it wasn’t his most impactful of the game.
Three plays into the fourth quarter, BU’s Qualan Jones barreled four yards into the endzone. That touchdown put the Bears ahead of the Mountaineers 37-31.
On the point after attempt, Stills made the type of play he was searching for all game as he blocked the extra point.
“After they scored, everyone was like dang. I wanted to make a play in that situation and I did to the best of my ability,” Stills said.
What he didn’t realize at the moment was that Jacolby Spells recovered the ball and returned it 87 yards to the house. That made it a four-point game instead of Baylor going up by seven.
“At first, I didn’t realize what was going on when I blocked it because I was like oh crap, where is the ball? Once we scored and I realized, I looked at our bench and felt like we were just up again,” Stills said.
While Spells was the one who is credited for the two points, it was Stills who made the game-changing play.
“During the game, I was getting frustrated with myself because I do want to make those game-changing plays, be that spark and I wasn’t doing that,” he said. “I noticed on the first PAT, he held me. Second PAT, [he] got a little lighter. It started getting like.. he didn’t want to block. On that last one, they had just scored so I got mad. I was like listen, I got to do something. I just did it the best I can.”
Stills said he knew what was coming as soon as he got through a gap he wasn’t usually able to get through. Maybe not the part where Spells returns it 87 yards, but he knew he was going to provide that spark the team needed.
That play helped West Virginia edge Baylor 43-40 and earned Stills the honor of WVU’s special teams player of the week.
“It changed the momentum,” head coach Neal Brown said. “We scored the next possession to get a three-point lead. I thought that was huge. he did a nice job with the block and had a chance at a couple of other ones really.”