VA -- It doesn't take a night game to bring out Beamerball. Just turn on the lights. On a cloudy, sometimes rainy day in
which the Lane Stadium lights were on, Virginia Tech hit 6th-ranked West Virginia with defense, special teams and the
running game to sew up their second victory over a top 10 team in the last two years, 19-13. Brandon Pace kicked four
field goals, Vince Fuller returned a blocked field goal 74 yards for a touchdown, and Mike Imoh ran 30 times for 115
tough yards to lead the Hokies.
Defensively, the Hokies stifled WVU's high-powered attack, which came into the game averaging 41.2 points, 276 yards
rushing, and 450 total yards per game. The Hokies held WVU's offense to 247 yards, just 134 on the ground, and in the
most impressive stat, stuck a goose egg on the Mountaineers on third-down conversions, where WVU was 0-for-13.
The Hokies led the game 6-0 late in the second quarter on the strength of two field goals by Brandon Pace, and WVU
was driving for the go-ahead score. On 3rd and 6 from the Tech 23, WVU QB Rasheed Marshall hit wide receiver John
Pennington in the numbers on the Hokie 2-yard line, but the sliding Pennington dropped the pass, forcing a WVU field
WVU's Brad Cooper lined up the field goal attempt, and Tech's Jim Davis burst through the middle and blocked it, his
second blocked kick of the season. The kick squirted out to the side, where Fuller picked the spinning football and
raced untouched down the East sideline as the crowd of 65,115 went nuclear. The score put the Hokies up 13-0 with 1:14
to go in the half.
The Hokies totally smothered WVU throughout the third quarter, holding the Mountaineers to just 10 yards and no first
downs on two possessions. VT extended the lead to 16-0 on a 29-yard field goal by Pace. Disaster struck late in the
quarter when Tech QB Bryan Randall scrambled to avoid the rush and then threw back across the field, only to be
intercepted by WVU defensive back Eric Wicks, who rumbled 34 yards for a TD that made it 16-6 with 2:55 to go in the
third quarter. (WVU missed the 2-point conversion.)
Pace tacked on yet another field goal, his 4th of the game on 5 attempts, when he made a 35-yarder to push the lead
back to 19-6 with 13:42 to go.
WVU responded with their best possession of the game by far, driving 76 yards in just four plays to make it 19-13
with 11:43 remaining. Marshall ran 46 yards for the TD, one of just two WVU plays that went for more than 20 yards on
the entire day.
The two teams traded possessions for the next 11 minutes, with the Hokies holding WVU to two three-and-outs. The
Mountaineers had their last chance when they took over possession on their own 12-yard line with 41 seconds left and no
timeouts. Eddie Jackson made a fantastic catch on an end-around option play to move the ball to the WVU 44, and the
Hokies committed a roughing the passer penalty on the play to spot the ball at the Tech 41. On the second play from
there, Marshall threw a horrible pass that was intercepted by Fuller with 18 seconds left to end the game and set off a
The game was a physical, nasty affair, marred by 25 combined penalties as the Big East officiating crew sought from
the beginning to keep control of the game. Tech was whistled for 14 penalties for 132 yards, and WVU was flagged 11
times for 119 yards. The two teams were called for three personal fouls (2 on VT, 1 on WVU), and WVU was called for
decking Tech punt returner Richard Johnson before he could catch the ball, and for illegal helmet contact when VT tight
end Jared Mazzetta was racked on a pass pattern across the middle. VT's last penalty came on an unsportsmanlike call as
they celebrated Fuller's interception at the end.
Tech defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis had a monster game, leading the Hokies with 7 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for
loss. Lewis threw WVU tailback Jason Colson for a 2-yard loss on 3rd and 2 and held him to no gain on a 3rd and 1, both
plays coming in the second quarter. Tech defensive linemen had 5 tackles for loss, including a sack by Noland Burchette.
On the day, the Hokies had 2 sacks, and in a vast improvement from last week, gave up just one as the offensive line
played very well in pass protection.
Colson rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries in relief of Big East rushing leader Kay-Jay Harris (137.2 yards per game),
who went out of the game on the first play of the second quarter. Tech defensive tackle Carlton Powell threw Harris for
a loss of 3 yards on 2nd and 7, and Harris limped off the field. Harris has been slowed by injuries this season after
setting a Big East single-game rushing record with 337 yards against East Carolina. Harris had 25 yards on 6 carries in
the first quarter.
Bryan Randall had a rough day, throwing 2 interceptions versus no touchdowns, including the interception for a TD to
Wicks. Randall also missed open receivers deep on potential touchdowns. Tech's career total offense leader did add
another 212 yards to his numbers, gaining 70 yards on 12 rushes and scrambles, and throwing for 142 yards on 16-of-34
The stars for the Hokies offensively were Imoh, who juked tacklers in the open field and broke multiple tackles in
traffic. Time and again the 5-7, 197-pound dynamo broke arm tackles and made something out of nothing as the Hokies put
the running game on his back and let him carry it. But the Hokies struggled in the red zone, penetrating the WVU 20-yard
line four times and coming away with no offensive touchdowns. Twice penalties pushed the Hokies out of scoring range,
once when a personal foul moved them from the WVU 4-yard line back to the 20, and later when a false start backed them
up from the WVU 7 to the 12.
The Tech defense and special teams bailed the offense out, though. After being humiliated for 527 rushing yards in
the teams' last two meetings, the Hokies gave up just 88 yards on 35 carries, outside of the 46-yard run by Marshall.
WVU didn't get a first down until their fifth possession, and they never had more than two first downs on any one drive.
Defense dominated the early going, with neither team recording a first down in their first two possessions. Late in
the first quarter, Randall threw a deep pass that was very short and was intercepted by Adam "Pac-Man" Jones
at the WVU 45. The Hokies got the ball right back when Fuller forced a fumble by Harris and Mikal Baaqee (7 tackles)
The Hokies got the ball to the WVU 9-yard line on the strength of a 32-yard completion to Josh Hyman, and from there,
Imoh ran it to the Mountaineer 4-yard line. But a personal foul on Tech's Jimmy Martin pushed the ball back to the
20-yard line, and the Hokies had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Pace.
The two teams continued to play defensive football, trading possessions, and as the game wore on into the second
quarter, rain started to fall. That didn't bother Pace, who boomed a 46-yard field goal through the uprights in the rain
to make it 6-0 Hokies, with 4:32 left in the half.
WVU threatened to take the lead, going on a nice drive from their 36 to the Tech 23. But then the drop by Pennington,
the blocked field goal by Davis, and the return by Fuller spotted Tech to a 13-0 lead, which they took into half time.
VT had the opportunity to blow the game open in the third quarter, holding the ball 12:12 to 2:48 for WVU. Tech had a
drive stall at the WVU 7-yard line on a false start penalty, and they kicked a 29-yard Pace field goal. Later, Pace
missed a 34-yard field goal, and after Randall threw the pick to Wicks for a touchdown, WVU had closed the gap to 16-6
despite not picking up single first down the entire quarter. The good news for the Hokies was that WVU tried a two-point
conversion, and Marshall was pressured into an incompletion.
Imoh returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to midfield, and the Hokies turned the opportunity into a 34-yard field
goal by Pace that put Tech up 19-6 with 13:42 to go. That's when WVU went on their 4-play, 76-yard drive capped by
Marshall's 46-yard TD run, and with 11:43 to go, the Hokie faithful were sweating, clinging to a 19-13 lead.
The Hokie defense clamped down, holding WVU to no first downs on their next two possessions. With 4:20 to go, the
Hokies took over on their 32-yard line, and behind the running of Imoh, picked up two first downs and forced WVU to
spend all three of their timeouts. On a critical play, Randall hit Jeff King on 3rd and 5 for an 8-yard gain. The Hokies
were finally forced to punt, and Vinnie Burns, who punted poorly on the day (6 punts, 34-yard average), pinned WVU on
their 12-yard line with 41 seconds to go with a 26-yard kick.
WVU completed the end-around option pass to Edwards, and a roughing the passer call moved the ball to the Hokie 41.
After spiking the ball into the turf with 24 seconds to go, Marshall dropped back and threw the pass straight to Fuller,
who went to his knees and made the pick at the Hokie 22-yard line with 18 seconds to go.
After the game, there was an ugly scene in the south end zone, as Tech students stormed the field from the north end
zone and gathered at the south end zone, taunting WVU fans who were seated low in the stands with chants of "ACC!
ACC!" Objects were thrown in each direction, and police officers and Virginia Tech ROTC members pushed the Hokie
crowd back before things escalated.
This is the fourth time the Hokies have defeated a top 10 team under Frank Beamer. In 1989, VT knocked off #9 WVU
12-10 in Morgantown. The Hokies beat #9 Texas 28-10 in the 1995 Sugar Bowl, then defeated #2 Miami last year 31-7.
The win puts the Hokies' season back on track at 3-2, still 1-1 in the ACC. The Hokies travel to Wake Forest (3-2,
0-2 ACC) next Saturday for a noon kickoff that will be televised by Jefferson Pilot. Wake led NC State 14-0 before
falling 27-21 in overtime Saturday.
here for TSL's post-game analysis