West Virginia’s comfortable lead evaporated, cheers from the sold-out crowd turned to boos, and possession of the Black Diamond Trophy fell on the goal line.
Braxton Burmeister came close to bringing No.15 Virginia Tech back from a 20-point deficit, but her fourth assist fell incomplete at the goal line in the last minute, giving the Mountaineers a 27-21 victory on Saturday.
West Virginia security Alonzo Addae said there was no sense of desperation on the part of the defense when Virginia Tech was given a golden opportunity to win.
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“At the end of the day, we want the game to be up for grabs and for us,” Addae said. “We’re proud to play great defense here so it was just another chance to take a stand and take the win.”
Jarret Doege threw two touchdown passes and Leddie Brown rushed for 106 yards and a score for the Mountaineers (2-1), who had built a 27-7 point lead midway through the third quarter before falling flat .
“Winning is tough and we talked about it before the game,” said coach Neal Brown. “I thought this was going to be a defining moment for us, for this team and where we are at.
“I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve played.”
Burmeister threw for two goals, including a 29-yard TD to Jalen Holston with 3:10 left. Virginia Tech recovered the ball with 2:11 left on Doege’s interception by Jermaine Waller at West Virginia 17, but Burmeister threw incomplete in a crowd of players on the fourth and the goal of 3 and the Mountaineers missed the time.
It was one of three Virginia Tech records that stalled inside the West Virginia 10, with the Hokies leaving with no points.
Burmeister finished 18 of 30 for 207 yards.
“Our guys came back in the second half and really kept fighting, scratching and scratching, and finally gave us the chance to win the game there,” said Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente. “Our guys are pretty crushed. We’re all crushed.”
Virginia Tech wide receiver Tayvion Robinson said the Hokies will learn from red zone struggles.
“I thought we called the right games,” he said. “You make mistakes, you can’t execute, that goes against you.”
The Hokies (2-1) had allowed just three touchdowns in their first two games but gave the Mountaineers two quick runs.
West Virginia doesn’t have a reputation for being quick, but took the 14-0 lead less than 6 minutes into the game.
Leddie Brown, who had five touchdowns before the game but was limited to 104 rushing yards, ran 80 yards down center for a score on West Virginia’s second play in scrum.
The Mountaineers only needed three games in their next practice, which was helped by a direct call to Virginia Tech linebacker Keshon Artis. In the next game, Doege found Bryce Ford-Wheaton in the end zone with double coverage at 29 yards.
After West Virginia extended the lead to 24-7 in the second quarter on a 16-yard throw from Doege to Sam James and a short field goal from Casey Legg, Raheem Blackshear returned a 78-yard kickoff to the 22 from West Virginia. But John Parker Romo missed a short try for the basket just before half-time.
Burmeister overcame a sack to throw three straight passes at the end of the third quarter, and his 25-yard run on the third down set up Raheem Blackshear’s 20-yard run at the end of the third quarter to close the gap to 27-14.
Doege finished 15 of 26 for 193 yards and West Virginia edged the Hokies 318-308.
Take it away
Virginia Tech: In their first game on the road, the Hokies were running a double-digit deficit before the sold-out crowd settled into their seats and could capitalize on the many opportunities they had to score.
West Virginia: Despite a failure in the second half, the Mountaineers won the Black Diamond Trophy for the first time since 2003. The trophy between former rivals Big East was introduced in 1997 and is a nod to the region’s rich history with coal.
Virginia Tech will collapse when the Associated Press poll comes out on Sunday.
Virginia Tech hosts Richmond from the Championship Soccer Subdivision next Saturday.
West Virginia opens the Big 12 at No. 3 in Oklahoma next Saturday. The Mountaineers have never beaten the Sooners since joining the league in 2012. Last year’s game was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.