Game 537: Hokies keep Mountaineers from climbing back, 31-24
Landover, Maryland – In the first meeting between No. 21 Virginia Tech and No. 22 West Virginia for the first time since 2005 to play for the Black Diamond Trophy, in our Game 537 VA Tech took three seven-point leads in the second half. WVU struck back to even the score twice. The third time was the charm though for VT as the old saying goes. With 6:30 remaining in regulation, RB Travon McMillan put six up on the scoreboard with a three-yard TD run to take a 31-24 lead that would stand for the Hokies. However, the game was never in hand until WVU ran out of time at the Tech 15 after three passes fell incomplete near the end zone. In front of a raucous crowd of 67,489 split about 50-50 between Mountaineer and Hokie fans, our first-time GGA Scott Bender, Hokie fan and alum, enjoyed his first Virginia Tech win in person since 2009, sending him home as one Happy Hokie.
The teams battled throughout in front of the lively crowd and national televison audience. Scott, who apologized that he generally exudes a “negative view” of his Hokies chances at winning games, stated that he gave the edge to the Mountaineers based on QB experience. West Virginia’s Will Grier started for the first time since he left the Florida Gator program where he started six games in 2015. Josh Jackson debuted for Tech this evening as a redshirt freshman. Early in Q3, Mountaineer PK Mike Molina’s 34-yard FG tied the score at 10 apiece. After that, the two teams traded touchdown blows in game 537 for Collegefootballfan.com. Tech polished off a 71 -yard scoring drive with DeShawn McClease’s 12-yard run. After Slye missed a 39-yard attempt for Tech, the Mountaineers drove 79 yards capped by Grier connecting with David Sills V (9 catches for 94 yards, 2 TDS that could’ve been 3) on a slant pattern at the 10 to tie at 17-17. Evan Staley returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards to the Mountaineer 32. Josh Jackson tossed a 32-yard scoring strike to WR Cam Phillips right away to retake the Hokie lead, 24-17.
Going into the final period, WVU continued to drive from its twelve. Grier hit Gary Jennings (13 catches, 189 yards, 1 TD) on a 60-yard scoring route to knot the score for the third time in the second half. On Tech’s next series, Jackson (15 for 26, 235 yards, 1 TD) ran 48 yards on a draw play to the WVU two. McMillan took it over for the 31-24 lead. On its next defensive series, Tech held the Mountaineers to just five yard to force a punt. They looked to ice the game with Slye’s 32-yard attempt, but it sailed wide right. West Virginia looked now to tie the game with 1:55 left. For the third time during this possession, Grier converted a first down with a run, this time on a third and seven to the Hokie 15. His second of three incomplete passes went through the hands of a diving, “sure-handed” Sills in the end zone for what “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” been a score-tying TD. The third pass fell incomplete and No. 21 defeated No. 22 in an exciting, charged-up football game.
GGA Scott Bender will not forget this one. The Hokie win broke his personal losing streak. If VA Tech represents the ACC in any of the three bowls we plan to see them compete in after the regular season, Scott may try to join us once again. They return to Blacksburg on Saturday to host FCS Delaware. WVU heads back to Morgantown to face East Carolina who fell 34-14 to defending FCS champ James Madison last weekend. And after Game 537, Collegefootballfan.com travels to State College, PA for the first of three trips there this season to see No. 4 Penn State battle their old rival, Pitt. We look forward to that one!
PATs (Points after Tailgating)
All Tech kickoffs went for touch-backs. Of 17 punts combined between both squads, only two were returned for a net total of two yards. One went for a loss. Neither team turned the ball over. Certainly not Beamer Ball! The former Tech HC Frank Beamer was introduced before the game along with former WVU HC Don Nehlen. We witnessed both men along the sidelines over the years in some memorable games.
Made good contact with a WVU fan we sat next to for a future tailgate party next time we get out to Morgantown!
Scott presided as the former President of the NJ Va Tech Alumni Association. As his Engineering career takes off, it became time to hand off his duties to a more recent alum. This year, they will be moving their alumni game day parties a to Vanderbilt’s Bar at the Wyndham Hotel in Florham Park, an old haunt near one of my former employers.
David Sills V was the 13-year old QB awarded a scholarship by A-hole Lane Kiffin at USC eight years ago. Kiffin’s no longer at USC of course, and we are so glad that Navy rolled over him in his FAU debut last week, 42-19. Sills played for his Dad at Eastern Christian in Wilmington, DE that his father also heavily funded. He’s no longer QB, but he’s a junior and under consideration for the draft in 2018.
This week, Tech moved up to No. 18 in the AP. WVU dropped out of the Top 25 receiving 70 points. However, there are at least 11 more games for everybody left to play this season, and remember, just about everybody gets a bowl trophy now-a-days.