Hokies lead WVU 24-17 heading to fourth quarter

Rosalie Stanley
September 4, 2017

Simms only had 95 yards receiving last year, but was expected to start for this year's iteration of the Mountaineers. Quarterback Will Grier is suiting up for the Mountaineers for the first time, after starting for Florida in 2015. Grier also rushed for 43-yards. Will Grier hit Gary Jennings for a 60 yard touchdown in what looked to be a potential turning point of the game.

After West Virginia tied up with Virginia Tech, the Hokies immediately made a come-back with a touchdown by Cam Phillips. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier missed some easy throws early on in his first game in almost two years while Hokies redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson didn't really get settled in until the third quarter in an impressive overall performance, leading to a 10-7 Virginia Tech advantage at the half. Those are the takeaways from the Hokies' 31-24 win over West Virginia Sunday night at FedEx.

New West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7).

For defensive coordinator Bud Foster, this isn't the first go-round with the Mountaineers.

Virginia Tech drove down to the WVU 1-yard line on its most productive possession of the quarter, but the Mountaineer defense stood strong, forcing the Hokies to settle for a 25-yard Joey Slye field goal. The senior instead broke free up the middle for 42 yards to the Virginia Tech 41 for the longest gain for either team in the first half. There, Grier would toss an interception to Trevon Hill killing the opportunity for points. But the Mountaineers must overcome big losses on their defense. Eight plays later, Grier delivered an 11-yard strike to wide receiver David Sills V to put West Virginia up 7-3. West Virginia is going to need all the help they can get from White, he's the only returning starter in the Mountaineer defensive backfield.

Tech was just 3-of-15 on third downs, astounding for a team that ran the ball as well as the Hokies did (234 yards, 5.2 yards per rush).

Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies
Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies

That was the score at halftime.

WEST VIRGINIA (2016: 10-3 SU, 5-8 ATS, 5-8 O/U): Holgorsen told reporters he likes where his team is, and the seventh-year coach must be especially pleased with the Mountaineers' depth at running back as sophomores Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway also will play big roles.

Redshirt senior Justin Crawford had another big game, finishing with 106 yards on 13 carries, but failed to reach the end zone again while Gary Jennings Jr. latched onto 13 passes for 189 yards and one score. He'll grind it out and find a way to take the game into the fourth quarter.

That last game, played in Morgantown in 2005, resulted in a 34-17 Virginia Tech victory - West Virginia's lone blemish on the way to an 11-1 season and a Sugar Bowl victory over SEC champion Georgia. But a holding penalty followed by an unsportsmanlike flag on Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen ended the drive and knocked WVU out of field goal range. The offense would move the ball to mid-field, but would be forced to punt giving the Hokies the ball back at their own 18-yard line.

Jackson was a flawless 3-for-3 for 40 yards on the go-ahead possession. Expect either a tie or slight Virginia Tech lead heading into the locker room. The drive eclipsed 82-yards in six plays. Molson 29-yard field goal to put the Bruins on top. Josh Jackson will make his first start for the Hokies at quarterback.

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