CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Puma Nuredini's last-second 35-yard field goal that gave the University of Charleston a 34-32 win over Notre Dame College didn't come by accident.
The 2012 first team All-West Virginia Conference kicker has prioritized improvement and it has paid off in spades.
Even better, he bucks the stereotype that kickers are odd birds.
"A lot of people talk bad about us, but I have to defend the kickers," he said. "I try to be a teammate and fit in with everybody else. I give everybody haircuts on the team, so I'm the team barber as well."
Nuredini is in his final season for the Golden Eagles and has experienced the highs and the lows of being a kicker. On Saturday, he had a 33-yard attempt blocked just 7 minutes before his game-winner.
No matter, Coach Pat Kirkland showed confidence in his kicker when UC began the game's final drive at its own 22 with 1:30 left. A 47-yard field goal to win the game was not only not out of the question, it wasn't far from a sure thing.
"We knew to give ourselves a chance, we knew we had to at least get to the 30," Kirkland said. "We felt, every little bit after that would be icing and put the odds a little bit more in our favor."
Nuredini didn't spend a lot of time practicing his kicks on the sideline prior to the game's final attempt. Like most games, he stayed behind the line of UC players gathered near the edge of the field, which might be a sure sign of idiosyncratic behavior.
"My mindset is always in the game, but I try to stay on the sidelines where I'm away from everybody where they don't talk to me," Nuredini said. "Even when they talk to me, they know how to cheer me on, but I try to stay on the side.
"I watch the game the whole time, but I try to stay loose. I've always done that since high school and it works for me."
Nuredini has continued the tradition of good kickers in the University of Charleston football program, which began in 2003.
The native of Berat, Albania made two field goals on Saturday, the first of which set the UC, and Morris Harvey College, career record held by his predecessor, Wes Sherrill. Through three years of kicking - Nuredini only kicked off as a freshman - the graduate of Naples High School (Fla.) has 24 field goals and 15 misses, which includes two blocks.
His career long is 49 yards, accomplished twice - against St. Joseph's in 2012 and at Southern Illinois on Sept. 14. He hasn't missed an extra point since his first attempt in a 42-20 win over West Virginia State on Nov. 12, 2011 - a streak of 55 straight kicks in 15 games.