Virginia Tech 19,
West Virginia 13
For only the fifth time in its history, Virginia Tech beat a team ranked in the top 10, topping No. 6 West Virginia, 19-13, on Saturday to end the Mountaineers' hopes of finishing undefeated against a diminished schedule.
Vincent Fuller was involved in nearly every play that tilted momentum toward the Hokies. Fuller caused a fumble late in the opening quarter that Virginia Tech turned into the first of four field goals by Brandon Pace. He returned a blocked field goal 74 yards for a touchdown shortly before halftime to lift the Hokies to a 13-0 lead. They continued to dominate for most of the third quarter, but winning easily against a quality team might prove impossible for this relatively young team.
"We kind of want to make it hard, I guess," Coach Frank Beamer said.
Quarterback Bryan Randall made a "bonehead play" on a pass that strong safety Eric Wicks intercepted and ran 34 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter, and the defense was stung for a 46-yard touchdown run by quarterback Rasheed Marshall early in the fourth to get the Mountaineers within striking distance.
On second down from the Tech 41 with 25 seconds left, Marshall threw over the middle, but his pass was intercepted by -- who else? -- Fuller.
"Just blessed," Fuller said.
Fuller scored his touchdown after defensive tackle Jim Davis blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt on a scheme the Hokies practice a lot. The plan worked so well that teammate Eric Green played escort for most of Fuller's dash down the left sideline, but no Mountaineer was close enough to block.
Fuller's interception was the result of thorough homework.
"He has a tendency to throw where he looks," Fuller said of Marshall. "The defensive line got good pressure. I was lucky to get the pick."
The victory triggered an on-field celebration that revived memories of beating then-No. 2 Miami last season. But Beamer cautioned the Hokies afterward: "How good this win is depends on what we do the next week and the week after."
Nonetheless, Beamer found plenty of reasons to be encouraged. His defense gave another stout effort. Pace bounced back after missing what would have been a game-winning field goal last week against North Carolina State. Tailback Mike Imoh (Robinson) had 206 all-purpose yards, and Randall threw a clutch pass to tight end Jeff King that fetched a significant first down late in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, Randall missed a few throws, among them a long effort toward wide-open David Clowney inside the Mountaineers 10 early in the second quarter. Also, punter Vinnie Burns shanked an early effort Saturday after all but handing State a touchdown with a fumbled snap. And the Hokies (3-2) committed 14 penalties for a total of 132 yards.
In the first start of his career, Imoh netted 115 yards on 30 carries, catching two passes for 13 yards and returning three punts and two kickoffs for a total of 78 yards. He sat on the floor of an interview room, looked briefly at an ice pack strapped to his left thigh and said: "You dream about this, but you don't want to feel like this afterward."
Yellow flags began flying early, with West Virginia (4-1) penalized five times for 54 yards and Tech five times for 50 yards in the first quarter. Tech was hurt worse by the calls; a hold on wide receiver Josh Hyman negated a zigzag run by Imoh, forcing Pace to kick his second field goal (from 46 yards).
The Hokies had first and goal at the 9 near the end of the first quarter, after Fuller caused a fumble by Kay-Jay Harris that linebacker Mikal Baaqee recovered on the West Virginia 45. But they had to settle for Pace's first field goal (from 30 yards) after left tackle Jimmy Martin was called for a personal foul.
Hokies Notes: Freshman flanker Eddie Royal (Westfield) suffered a mild concussion on Tech's first offensive snap and missed the rest of the opening half. He had five catches in the second half. . . .
Fuller scored the only touchdown for Tech in the 28-7 loss to West Virginia last season, on a 50-yard run with a fumble. He has three interceptions for the season and eight for his career. . . .
This was the first time Tech won without an offensive touchdown in 10 years. . . .
Pace said last week's miss against State bothered him for a couple of days, "but by Wednesday I was ready to play."