Going into week three, the West Virginia Mountaineers come in with a record of 1-1 as they prepare to take on an old rival, Virginia Tech. The Hokies enter the week ranked 15th in the nation with a 2-0 record. In week one, Virginia Tech knocked off the 10th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels and went on to beat Middle Tennessee State in week two.
These two foes have met 52 times in a series that dates back to 1912. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series with a record of 28-22-2.
The battle for the Black Diamond Trophy has fared better for the Hokies in recent years. In the last 10 matchups between the two teams, Virginia Tech has a 7-3 record against WVU.
Let’s look back at a few of the best games over the last 20 years in this old rivalry.
2002 (Blacksburg, VA)
Going into this game, Virginia Tech was ranked 12th in the nation in a season that initially had hopes to win a title. After a couple of losses, they met a scrappy Mountaineer team, led by quarterback Rasheed Marshall, and WVU’s all-time leading rusher, Avon Cobourne.
The Hokies started the scoring with a touchdown on an option play to Lee Suggs to make it 7-0 Virginia Tech. After a long reception to Derrick Smith, Avon Cobourne scored a touchdown on a 9-yard rush. WVU kept the pressure on by scoring another touchdown on a quarterback draw by Rasheed Marshall. After a Virginia Tech field goal, running back Quincy Wilson broke free for a 42-yard touchdown.
After a Virginia Tech touchdown, the Hokies moved the ball downfield again, but WVU’s defense came up big. West Virginia’s All-American linebacker Grant Wiley jumped over the offensive line to stop running back Lee Suggs short at the 1-yard line on 4th and goal. WVU led by five and decided to take an intentional safety so they wouldn’t have to punt out of their own end zone with 2:33 left in the game.
Down by three, the Hokies drove down the field and put themselves in prime scoring position to win the game or at least tie it with a field goal with 25 seconds left. From inside the 15 yard-line, Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall threw the ball in the end zone that was intercepted by WVU’s Brian King. King’s interception sealed the 21-18 victory, in what became one of the best road wins of the 2000’s.
2003 (Morgantown, WV)
On a Wednesday night matchup, Virginia Tech came into Morgantown ranked third in the country. That ranking wouldn’t last long, as the Mountaineers dominated the Hokies this night.
In the first quarter, the Mountaineers got a pair of short touchdowns from running backs Kay-Jay Harris and Quincy Wilson. After a quarter, WVU led 14-0.
Late in the second quarter, Quincy Wilson fumbled the football and it was returned for a 75-yard touchdown after a questionable no-call when the defender appeared to down around midfield. WVU led 14-7 at halftime.
In the second half of play, the Mountaineers did not allow the Hokies to score, while also managing to put the ball in the end zone a couple more times.
The play of the game came in the third quarter when Rasheed Marshall threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to Travis Garvin. Mountaineer Field was absolutely electric after this play. Later on in the third, Rasheed Marshall scored a touchdown from four yards out to give the Mountaineers a 28-7 lead. That score would stand the rest of the game, as WVU went on to win against the Hokies for a second straight season.
2017 (Landover, MD)
In the first game of the season in 2017, 22-ranked West Virginia faced 21st ranked Virginia Tech at FedEx Field near Washington D.C.
This was the debut of Will Grier in a West Virginia uniform, as the former 5-star recruit had recently transferred from Florida and sat out the 2016 season as part of the NCAA transfer rules.
The game was a back-and-forth battle between the pass-heavy Grier and Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson, who could beat defenses with his running ability from the quarterback position.
Early on, Will Grier found David Sills for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. This would be a sign of things to come, as Sills would go on to lead the NCAA in touchdown receptions with 17 on the year.
After the Sills touchdown, Josh Jackson found the endzone from five yards out to give the Hokies a 10-7 lead at the half.
Out of the break, WVU made a field goal to the tie the game at 10. On the next possession, Virginia Tech scored with a 12-yard touchdown run by Deshawn McClease to grab a 17-10 lead. Grier and the Mountaineer offense went right back to David Sills, as the duo connected for a 10-yard touchdown on a slant route across the middle.
The Hokies offense took wasted no time getting back on the board after the Sills touchdown. Before the third quarter ended, Josh Jackson completed a touchdown to Cam Phillips from 32 yards out to take a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
The biggest play of the night came early on in the fourth quarter when Will Grier connected with Gary Jennings, who got loose for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game at 24-24.
With 6:30 to go in the game, Virginia Tech took a 31-24 lead when Travon McMillian ran a touchdown in from three yards out. After a WVU punt, hope for the Mountaineers was dwindling when kicker Joey Slye came out for a 32-yard field goal with 1:55 to go in the game. The kick was wide right, so the Mountaineers were given one more chance.
Will Grier led the offense down the field, and ran for a first down on 4th and 5 when he was forced out of the pocket. While the drive showed signs of life, the effort ultimately came up short when Will Grier’s pass to David Sills fell incomplete as the time expired.
Virginia Tech took home the 31-24 victory at FedEx Field, in what was the last meeting between the Mountaineers and the Hokies.
Saturday, Virginia Tech will make 250-mile trip up to Morgantown, WV for the first time since 2005. Kickoff is set for noon from Milan Puskar Stadium.