Virginia Tech and West Virginia have been known for playing classic games but tonight, they gave a new generation of fans an instant classic.
#21 Virginia Tech won a thriller over #22 West Virginia 31-24, keeping the Black Diamond Trophy in Blacksburg. The Hokies now have one of the best wins of any team in college football and should make a big jump in next week's top 25. With no power 5 teams before the Hokies face Clemson, the table is set for Virginia Tech to be unbeaten heading into that massive game.
Josh Jackson got off to a slow start but by the end of the game, he put together a debut to remember. Jackson had an extremely good debut as he went 15-for-26 for 235 passing yards and 1 touchdown while running for 101 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Josh Jackson got off to a slow start but was able to go blow for blow with Will Grier in the second half, getting the better of the former Florida star in the end.
Jackson had plenty of big plays including an impressive 46-yard TD run that set the Hokies up for a decisive touchdown. However, his most impressive may have been a 14-yard run on the Hokies' final possession where he not only got the first down but also made the mature decision to slide in bounds to keep the clock running. In that moment, Jackson showed the poise of a man who has been on this stage many times before.
Cam Phillips had one of the best games of his career catching 7 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Phillips shined on the big stage and made a statement that not only is he one of the best receivers in the ACC but that he may also be one of the best in America. Phillips was consistently able to get separation and make things happen while also passing Antonio Freeman on Virginia Tech's all-time receiving list.
The Hokies ground game was solid tonight as Virginia Tech ran for 234 yards and an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Deshawn McClease provided a spark and had a great performance with 51 yards and a TD on 8 carries. Meanwhile, Travon McMillian had a solid game with 34 yards on 9 carries including a TD with Steven Peoples having 39 yards on 13 carries.
Adonis Alexander had a great game with 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 3 pass breakups; showing why Bud Foster believes he's the Hokies' best cornerback. Andrew Motuapuaka had a strong game with 12 tackles and 2 QB hurries including a sack that forced WVU to burn a timeout on their final possession. Trevon Hill also had a very good game with 4 tackles and a big interception on a fourth down in the first half.
The Hokies had a pair of very good players on special teams as Oscar Bradburn had a great debut with an average of 46.5 yards per punt while James Clark was a dynamic kick returner averaging 31 per return tonight. Joey Slye struggled missing two field goals that could have eliminated the late-game tension with both of those misses coming from inside, something that is very atypical for Slye.
First Half Recap
Both defenses started out strong getting early stops, but the Hokies' offense was the first to strike. Virginia Tech got all the way to the 1 thanks to a 28-yard Cam Phillips but ended up with a 25-yard Joey Slye field goal.
West Virginia broke through in the second quarter on a long drive starting with an impressive 42-yard from Justin Crawford. West Virginia was able to punch it in as a miscommunication gave David Sills the space he needed to catch an 11-yard touchdown from Will Grier.
However, Virginia Tech's offense came back with a big late drive. The Hokies took advantage of starting in West Virginia territory and had another big Cam Phillips reception. This time, the Hokies took advantage with Josh Jackson scoring a 5-yard rushing touchdown to give the Hokies a 10-7 lead at the half.
Second half details to come soon.
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