BLACKSBURG, Va. - Last year, the Virginia Tech Hokies went to Morgantown ranked No. 3 in the country and received a 28-7 thrashing at the hands of the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers. This year, the Mountaineers came to Blacksburg ranked No. 6 in the country and the unranked Hokies returned the favor, upsetting WVU 19-13 in front of 65,115 fans.
As would be expected in a game this close, the contest was not decided until WVU's final drive. Starting at their own 11 with 41 seconds on the clock, the Mountaineers completed a 33-yard pass to their 44 and got 15 yards added on because of a Tech personal foul penalty. But just moments later, WVU quarterback Rasheed Marshall was intercepted by Tech's Vincent Fuller to end the threat and the game. The Hokies improved to 3-2 and WVU fell to 4-1.
Defense was the name of this game throughout as these two rivals squared off. The Hokies held the Mountaineers to three-and-outs on their first four possessions. On the fourth of those, the Mountaineers opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Tech 46. WVU tailback Kay-Jay Harris took the hand off and was drilled by Fuller. Fuller's hit jarred the ball loose and linebacker Mikal Baaqee recovered.
With the ball and the momentum, Tech quarterback Bryan Randall found receiver Josh Hyman for a 32-yard gain to the WVU 9. Tech's opportunity to get in the end zone was effectively snuffed out by a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The Hokies settled for a 30-yard field goal from Brandon Pace and took a 3-0 lead with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The rains came early in the second quarter, and while it forced many fans to seek cover, the Hokies embarked on their best drive of the first half. Tech went 43 yards on 12 plays, running 4:04 off the clock before settling for a 46-yard Pace field goal, a career long for Pace.
West Virginia answered back with its best drive of the day, moving from its own 36 to the Tech 23. A dropped pass by John Pennington on third down left the Mountaineers staring at a 40-yard field goal attempt. However, Brad Cooper's attempt was low and Tech's Jim Davis swatted the ball back to the turf. Fuller, who caused the fumble earlier in the game, scooped up the ball and went 74 yards for the touchdown. Pace's extra point made the score 13-0 going into halftime.
The Hokies received the ball to start the second half and drove 59 yards in 10 plays. Pace added his third field goal of the day from 29 yards out to make the score 16-0.
Tech's defense continued to flex its muscle, holding the Mountaineers to three-and-outs on WVU's next two possessions. But it was WVU's defense that struck the more decisive blow when Eric Wicks intercepted a Randall pass and returned it 34 yards for the WVU's first score of the day with 2:55 left in the third quarter. The Mountaineers went for the two-point conversion, but Marshall's pass sailed harmlessly out of the back of the end zone.
Tech responded with a 10-play, 33-yard drive that culminated in a 35-yard Pace field goal. With the score 19-6 and time becoming a factor, the Mountaineers struck back quickly. WVU took over on its 24 and went 76 yards in just four plays to score the first and only offensive touchdown of the day for either team. Marshall scampered 46 yards for the score and Cooper's extra point made the score 19-13 with11:43 remaining in the game.
West Virginia had three possessions after its scoring drive to cut into or take the lead from the Hokies but could do nothing against Tech's defense. The Mountaineers only ran six offensive plays in the third quarter, were 0-for-13 on third-down conversions, and managed just three first downs in the second half. Fuller was the star of Tech's defense with the forced fumble, interception, and the block return for the touchdown.
Tailback Mike Imoh got the first start of his career and finished with 115 yards rushing on 30 carries. He also caught two passes for 13 yards and returned five kicks for 78 yards, giving him 204 total yards on the day.
Randall was 16-for-34 for 142 yards and two interceptions. Freshman Eddie Royal caught six balls for 45 yards.
The Hokies go on the road for the first time this season, not counting the neutral site BCA Classic, on Oct. 9 when they visit the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The game will kick off at noon.