Virginia Tech beats West Virginia in wild Black Diamond classic

VT 31, WVU 24, FINAL. West Virginia had a chance to tie it up in the end, but a drop in the end zone by David Sills (otherwise a game hero) and a heavily flagged final effort that ended with a pass out of bounds anyway means the Black Diamond Trophy will stay in Blacksburg with the Hokies.

VT 31, WVU 24, 6:30 in the fourth: Hokie QB Josh Jackson ran for 46 yards up the middle and took this big wallop at the end of it, setting up the go-ahead score. We’re heading toward a whoever-has-the-ball-last ending.

24-24, 12:37, fourth quarter: A 60-yard catch-and-run from Will Grier to Gary Jennings, the second play of WVU’s drive, has this liveblog on the verge of going ALL CAPS IN EVERY UPDATE. This could end up being the best game of Week 1, tbh.

24-17 VT, end of third quarter: THINGS ARE LIT. Dana Holgorsen has gotten T’d up and is one more personal foul away from becoming the first FBS head coach to be ejected under NCAA rules. Back when we drafted which coaches we thought would earn this honor, he went No. 7.

24-17 VT, 1:45, third quarter: Virginia Tech answered almost immediately with a 32-yard touchdown catch by Cam Phillips, after a long kickoff return. Be advised that West Virginia then hit a 43-yard completion on its first play with the ball. This game’s getting really hot now, so flip to ABC.

17-17, 2:18, third quarter: Will Grier and David Sills V connected for a second WVU touchdown tonight. This one came from 10 yards out, while Sills slanted over the middle. We might be in for a doozy of a finish.

17-10 VT, 5:07, third quarter: Josh Slye just missed a 38-yard field goal for Virginia Tech, so WVU’s still down just a score. The Hokies fans in the end zone behind the uprights thought the kick was good and started cheering for several seconds. It was, in fact, not good.

17-10 VT, 9:51, third quarter: The Hokies are back in front after a 12-yard touchdown run from 5’9 redshirt sophomore Deshawn McClease. He also carried for 14 yards on the first play of a seven-play, 58-yard scoring drive. Tech redshirt frosh quarterback Josh Jackson might be settling in a bit, too. Lots to like right now for that offense.

10-10, 11:25, third quarter: Mike Molina is (barely) true from 34 yards, and we’re even again. The red-zone defenses in this game have been stout in the few cases where they’ve been needed, but really, most of these drives are stalling long before that point.

10-7 VT, halftime: After a special teams mistake by West Virginia, the Hokies are back in front. The Mountaineers let a Tech punt bounce from the 20 to the WVU 3. Tech forced a three-and-out, and Josh Jackson capped an eight-play, 47-yard drive by scoring just before the end of the half. Really, I wanna talk about this punt return issue.

7-3 WVU, 5:37, second quarter: A touchdown puts West Virginia ahead. Will Grier found David Sills V on the back shoulder in the front corner of the end zone, and Sills squeezed it. That’s a 10-play, 86-yard drive in 4:34. Not bad!

3-0 VT, 9:00, second quarter: Hey, an exciting offensive play! WVU running back Justin Crawford just bursted 42 yards up the middle, sticking the Mountaineers across midfield. The previous long run in this game was a 12-yarder.

3-0 VT, 11:31, second quarter: Will Grier and the West Virginia offense look really bad. Anything beyond 10 yards is a no-go for the WVU passing game so far, but the ‘Eers are trying anyway. Grier’s 10 of 19 for 66 yards and a pick.

3-0 VT, 14:50, second quarter: WVU’s Will Grier made an ill-advised throw after rolling to his left, stopping to throw back across the field into traffic. Tech defensive end Trevon Hill intercepted him in the shadow of his own goalposts. Sheesh.

3-0 VT, end of first quarter. WVU quarterback Will Grier just had receiver Gary Jennings Jr. wide open for a 30-yard touchdown. He missed him high. In totally unrelated news, did you know Grier used to be a Florida Gators quarterback?

3-0 VT, 6:13, first quarter. Joey Slye kicked a chip-shot field goal for Tech. It’s a win for WVU, though, which was staring down a Tech first-and-goal from the 2. The Hokies backed up with a false start, and redshirt freshman QB Josh Jackson had both an underthrow and an overthrow to bail the Mountaineers out.

0-0, 8:22, first quarter. Virginia Tech got a first down a few minutes ago and has the ball at WVU’s 42-yard line. A wild offense has appeared in Landover.

0-0, 10:56, first quarter. More punting! WVU’s punted twice, VT once, and nobody’s gotten a first down yet in three series. Good times.

0-0, 12:36, first quarter. A trade of punts. WVU’s Will Grier fired off a deep shot in his first drive since 2015, but officials ruled it incomplete.

The Virginia Tech Hokies play the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. It stacks up as one of the better games of college football’s Week 1.

No. 21 Virginia Tech is coming off a strong debut season under head coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies won the ACC Coastal division and put up a decent fight against eventual national champion Clemson in the conference title game. They lost a ton of production in the offseason, especially on offense. But if they can overcome a relative shortage of depth, another run to the championship game is possible.

No. 22 WVU has drawn some preseason hype, but maybe that’s not fair. The Mountaineers have a talented transfer QB in ex-Florida Gator Will Grier, but they’re at the bottom of the country in returning production. A lot of the players that built last year’s 10-win team are now gone, and Dana Holgorsen has to rebuild on the fly.

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday
  • Location: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
  • TV: ABC
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Odds: Virginia Tech is a 4.5-point favorite.

S&P+ projects Virginia Tech to win by 10, so the computers see this as a more lopsided game than oddsmakers do. But this early in the season, it’s hard to be sure of anything.

The thing about West Virginia: The Mountaineers really are losing a ton. They have 30 percent of their offensive production back and 25 percent on defense. They’ve lost a trio of key receivers — Jovon Durante, Shelton Gibson, and Daikiel Shorts — plus a solid running back in Rushel Shell. The losses on defense are even bleaker.

Three top linemen are gone, as are the team’s best linebacker and five of its best six defensive backs from 2017. That’s a whole hell of a lot to replace, and West Virginia isn’t an elite recruiting team that can just cycle in a new group of four- and five-star players. (Think Ohio State or Alabama. That’s not the Mountaineers.) So maybe WVU will be terrific, and all of these young players will thrive immediately. But that’s a lot to ask, and a first game against Virginia Tech leaves no time for easing into it.

This is one of two major college games on Sunday night, the last Sunday before the NFL takes over the national spotlight. Texas A&M plays UCLA, also at 7:30 p.m. ET, on Fox. Both games seem good, and if one’s better than the other, everyone will flip the channel to watch that one. Landover might be the center of the CFB world for a night.

So the stage is set for a fun evening. Two teams from neighboring states, both ranked, are playing at a neutral site. Both have plenty of talent, but they’re each replacing enough that we’ll learn a little bit we don’t already know.


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