The West Virginia football team secured the Black Diamond Trophy Saturday afternoon fending off a late Virginia Tech surge for the 27-21 victory.
The physicality of West Virginia’s front five on the offensive line seemed to be clicking off the bat as the second play from scrimmage saw Leddie Brown carry an 80-yard touchdown to the house. The rush saw Brown gut it up the middle and into open green grass all the way from the Mountaineer 20-yard line.
Jarret Doege was then able to connect with a couple of his receivers on the Mountaineers second drive of the day first tossing a seven-yard pass to Isaiah Esdale which was followed up by a 29-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Ford-Wheaton down the West Virginia sideline.
The Mountaineer defense was able to hold Virginia Tech scoreless until their third possession of the day and three minutes remaining before the second quarter. The Hokies scoring drive saw the offense travel 65 yards on 13 plays with a few nice chunk yardage-gains out of the throwing hand of quarterback Braxton Burmeister.
The touchdown pass came from the West Virginia 23-yard line and saw Burmeister connect with Tayvion Robinson to cut the Mountaineer advantage in half.
West Virginia backup quarterback Garrett Greene handled a few snaps in the first half taking his first rush six yards for a Mountaineer first down. Greene then came in again in the second quarter and rushed for 10 yards on the first play of a West Virginia scoring drive.
The same drive Greene began with a first down rush saw Doege toss a pair of passes Sam James direction as James came down with a 30-yard reception to move the ball to the Virginia Tech 46-yard line. James then hauled in a 16-yard touchdown catch up the middle of the field to put the Mountaineers up again by 14 points.
Following a Raheem Blackshear 77-yard kickoff return to the West Virginia 35-yard line, Burmeister was forced to rush for nine yards to the 22-yard line before rushing another time for eight yards. Virginia Tech then lined up for a field goal with under a minute remaining before halftime and the kick sailed wide right off the foot of John Romo from 17 yards.
The West Virginia defense was able to hold Virginia Tech’s offense to only 144 total yards through the opening half. Scottie Young Jr. led the defensive attack collecting six total tackles while Alonzo Addae and Josh Chandler-Semedo each came down with five tackles apiece.
One of the biggest defensive plays was when Addae sacked Burmeister for a loss of six yards to begin the second drive of the day for the Hokies.
A six-minute drive to open the second half brought Legg out again with eight minutes left on the clock in the third for a 44-yard boot to give the Mountaineers the 27-7 lead halfway through the quarter. The drive included a 25-yard connection between Doege and Brown which moved the West Virginia ball to the 42-yard line.
The Hokies struck right before the fourth quarter began on a four-minute drive which saw Burmeister complete a 39-yard pass to Drake Deiuliis as well as a 25-yard rush to the outside to bring the football up to the West Virginia 20-yard line. Burmeister then handed the ball off to Raheem Blackshear from 20 yards out for the touchdown rush to bring the deficit within 13 points, 27-14.
Jared Bartlett’s play on the defensive side of the ball in the second half helped give West Virginia the cushion they needed to come away with the victory. On fourth down and the Hokies in the red zone, Burmeister dropped back and was strip sacked by Bartlett which was scooped up by Lance Dixon for the Mountaineers re-controlled possession.
The two other big sacks for Bartlett came with four minutes remaining in the third and pinned Virginia Tech back nine yards behind the line of scrimmage on first down. Bartlett then took down Burmeister again with nearly nine minutes remaining in regulation for a seven-yard loss to force third and 17.
The Hokies certainly weren’t going home quietly as on a third and 17 with about three minutes remaining in regulation when Burmeister found Jalen Holston up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown pass. The score brought Virginia Tech within less than a touchdown as Burmeister completed a pair of 12 and 13-yard completions on the scoring drive as well.
In the end it was a defensive goal line stand which proved the Mountaineers victory following a Jermaine Waller interception at the West Virginia 25-yard line. Jackie Matthews broke up the final pass attempt toward the end zone and it was a wrap.
The Mountaineers will now get set to face off against Oklahoma next week in Norman as Big 12 Conference play gets underway.
(Top Photo: Bryan Doughtery)