Virginia Tech 34,
West Virginia 17
With No. 3 Virginia Tech leading West Virginia by three points late in the first half on Saturday, Hokies quarterback Marcus Vick dropped back to throw from the Mountaineers 15-yard line. Vick looked to his left and saw receiver Eddie Royal, his primary passing option, tightly covered by a cornerback and free safety.
So what did Vick do? He did what very few college quarterbacks can do, threading a tight spiral between cornerback Dee McCann and free safety Jahmile Addae for a 15-yard touchdown pass to Royal. That was all the scoring the Hokies needed as their defense held the Mountaineers to a field goal in the second half of a 34-17 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 60,193 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Vick's touchdown pass to Royal was perhaps his most impressive throw during his most impressive game as the Hokies' starting quarterback. The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick completed 15 of 17 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns and ran 12 times for 74 yards and one score.
"He's probably the only quarterback in the country that can make a throw like that," Royal said. "I wasn't surprised he threw it because I know how strong and accurate his arm is. But when it fit in there, I was surprised how fast it was coming. It was like a 99-mile-per-hour fastball."
During the Hokies' first four games, a tighter-than-expected victory at North Carolina State followed by blowout wins over Duke, Ohio and Georgia Tech, Vick showed glimpses of his enormous potential but didn't put together a complete game. But against the Mountaineers (4-1), who inexplicably tried to contain Vick with a three-man defensive front, he had his coming-out party.
"I was just trying to make a statement," said Vick, who has thrown nine touchdowns and one interception in five games. "The crowd was giving me a lot of grief, so I was going to take it out on their defense."
Vick took it out on the West Virginia defense with both his right arm and legs. During Virginia Tech's second possession, Vick scored on a 10-yard run on third and nine to make it 7-0. He threw a nine-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff King, who scored for the fourth straight game, on third and six to put the Hokies ahead, 17-7, and then put the Mountaineers away for good with his precise throw to Royal.
"Every week that he's played, he's done everything he's been asked to do," Hokies quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers said. "I don't know if he's getting better or if he's just good."
Rogers said Vick's ability to recognize defenses and pass coverage is what has so far impressed him the most.
"What he has done -- I mean, we haven't thrown the football 200 times -- but what he has done with the football is really unbelievable for a guy who hadn't played in more than a year," Rogers said. "He's a cool customer, probably the coolest guy we've got out there."
But Vick also showed a mean streak on a couple of plays against the Mountaineers. Late in the first half, before his touchdown pass to Royal, Vick ran around left end for a 16-yard gain. Before going out of bounds, he lowered his left shoulder and popped cornerback Larry Williams.
Later, with the Hokies (5-0) leading 27-17 in the third quarter, Vick scrambled to his right and then ran back to his left, eluding McCann's attempted tackle with a stiff arm. Vick ran out of bounds after a 23-yard gain and then flipped the football to McCann, as if to say, "If you can't catch me, catch this." McCann and Vick were called for offsetting personal fouls.
"He's got ability, and he's got confidence," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "Let's just see" how it goes from here.
After Vick kneeled for the final time with about 20 seconds left, Tech linebacker Vince Hall, wide receiver Josh Hyman and tackle Kory Robertson were waving goodbye to the West Virginia fans behind the Hokies bench. A few minutes later, tackles Tim Sandidge and Carlton Powell were in the end zone with a pair of trainer's scissors, clipping the turf from the yellow "M" in Mountaineers.
With the Hokies leaving the Big East Conference for the ACC before last season, Saturday's game was the last scheduled between the longtime rivals. Beamer was glad the Hokies get to keep the Black Diamond Trophy for many years to come, and he didn't seem particularly upset his team won't be coming back to Morgantown anytime soon.
"We've got a lot of great memories here," Beamer said.