Leddie Brown’s last game in Morgantown is quite fitting.
The running back from Philadelphia had one of his best performances as WVU’s top ball-carrier, dashing for 158 yards and a touchdown against Texas as he helped lead his team over the Longhorns 31-23.
“I came in throwing the ‘Horns Down’ in 2018,” Brown said, “and I went out throwing ‘Horns Down’ in 2021.”
The complexion of WVU football has changed quite a bit — new uniforms, new head coach, new quarterback, new facility — as has Brown’s role in the offense. That game, he got just four carries for 18 yards as the Mountaineers took a win in Austin. Like fellow senior Josh Chandler-Semedo on the defense, he has become one of the faces of the program.
Brown and Chandler-Semedo were two of the 12 seniors that walked out as part of the team’s pregame Senior Day ceremony, which gave the team and fans a chance to (potentially) say goodbye to their Mountaineers. For those guys, it was an emotional day, as they too likely bid farewell to Mountaineer Field for the last time.
“I was looking around at the crowd like, ‘this is really my last home game,'” Brown said. “I just got here yesterday.”
The ceremony was especially emotional for Chandler-Semedo, who dedicated the day to his mother. This is actually the first senior day that his mother has been able to make — she missed his high school ceremony because she had to work as part of a sacrifice she made to her son.
“This moment was for her — really, this season was for her,” Chandler-Semedo said. “I have goals to make sure that she eventually doesn’t have to work anymore, and I’m making strides to that, and I feel like I’ve been having success at that, so it’s really jsut finishing this chapter with her. She’s been with me all 21 years of my life.”
Chandler-Semedo finished with a game-high four tackles and a half-sack, but safety Sean Mahone made arguably the biggest single play on the defense as he snagged a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter. Mahone is actually a fifth-year senior, and has taken advantage of his extra time in Morgantown — not only has he received heaps of praise from Coach Neal Brown, but he has also been nominated for a plethora of academic awards, including the so-called “Heisman Trophy of academics.”
Like thousands of college athletes across the country, Mahone’s future was impossible to predict ahead of the 2020 season. He had no idea that he would get an extra year, but two football seasons later, he has an improved resume for the pro game, an MBA and aspirations for a Ph.D.
“Being this is my last game, it’s something I’ll always remember and everything,” Mahone said. “It means a lot just seeing everyone’s emotions like happy and everything, it meant a lot to the program and to my teammates.”
While this is the end of the road in Morgantown, it’s not the season finale, and the Mountaineers still have to get a win to earn themselves a postseason. They next head to the midwest to face Kansas on Nov. 20.
This group of seniors — or anyone on this team, actually — has never lost to the Jayhawks. KU’s 2021 squad has played spoiler, however, so they know they have to take this game seriously.
“We won this one, we’ve got next week’s game that we should be able to win to get bowl eligible,” Chandler-Semedo said. “Kansas is a very different team. They can come out and play like a typical Kansas team that we see, or they can come out like they played…last week against Texas and a couple weeks ago against Oklahoma, when they played like one of the top teams in our conference.”