A Rivalry Renewed: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

Beth Cruz
September 4, 2017

But it was his foil, Hokies redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who exceeded expectations in his first start. Inevitably, it took Jackson a little time to get his feet wet, and it took Grier some time to knock the rust off.

Even with the quarterbacks, the start was all about defense, as Virginia Tech took a narrow 10-7 lead into the half. ABC (Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay) will televise the game nationally, while the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG's radio coverage (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace and Jed Drenning) can be accessed on stations throughout West Virginia, online through WVUsports.com and via the mobile app WVU Gameday, available for download through the Apple and Google Play stores.

WVU made the Hokies pay, answering the bell with a eight-play, 79-yard drive that saw Grier find his favorite target, Sills, from 10-yards out on a flawless touchdown strike that tied the game at 17-all.

UCLA accepted the ball to open the game and started with its best drive of the night, a 12-play, 53-yard march that stalled at the Texas A&M 12-yard line, setting up a J.J.

Before Slye's field goal, the Hokies had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line but squandered the prime scoring opportunity with a negative-yardage run and a false start on consecutive plays. After Jarrett Johnson forced a Josh Rosen fumble, A&M pushed the lead to 10-3, then forced another fumble - Armani Watts got this one. "Not just on the field, but off the field". "We knew this game wasn't going to be a blowout". Grier will struggle early on to get in rhythm as Virginia Tech's secondary will lock it down the first few drives. The combination of those two factors made for an explosive third quarter.

Justin Crawford gave the Mountaineers the big play it needed in the second quarter, busting through the line for a 42-yard run to flip field position.

LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Hokies as 4-point favorites and that line quickly grew as high as 5, before fading back to the opening number.

But like Fuente said, offensive fireworks began to go off for both teams in the third quarter. Now, the two coaches will meet again as honorary captains for the match-up. Tech responded right back with a 32-yard pass to Phillips to put the Hokies ahead 24-17 to head into the fourth.

The game turned into a back-and-forth battle midway through the third quarter.

Although the two teams haven't faced off since 2005, RIsh Equipment has continued to grant scholarships to the football players while the rivalry has gone dormant, providing a full year's worth of tuition for a player on each team. The redshirt freshman thrived against a formidable power-conference opponent in his college football debut and demonstrated his dual-threat abilities with a clutch 46-yard run before Travon McMillian scored the winning touchdown.

"The thing I was surprised about, though, was the way (Jackson) ran the ball tonight", Phillips said.

"I think the offseason was really good for him".

The Hokies entered the season as a darkhorse New Year's Six contender thanks to a talented defense that returned several key pieces. The Mountaineers racked up 592 yards of total offense, becoming the first team to put up more than 500 yards of total offense on a Bud Foster-coached defense since Tulsa in the 2015 Independence Bowl.

"That word 'finish, '" defensive lineman Trevon Hill said. Ford pushed the lead to 24-3 lead with a 2-yard plunge at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter. Grier won't have to do it all himself as West Virginia boasts a deep group of running backs that is led by Justin Crawford, who is the leading rusher among those returning in the Big 12 (1,184 yards).

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