Little things mean a lot in WVU loss
LANDOVER, Md. – An offensive-rich second half spiced the West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech season-opener at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
After Virginia Tech scored just before halftime to take a 10-7 lead, there still had been scant offensive execution by either team.
The second half of the made-for-television game had scads of yardage from the Mountaineer offense and some vital individual plays from Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson.
West Virginia never led in the second half, but it kept getting yardage against a vaunted Hokie defense that eventually ceded 592 yards of total offense to the Mountaineers.
It was a weather-perfect night and the active crowd in the stadium’s lower bowl became more and more animated as the game moved toward the close of Virginia Tech’s 31-24 win.
After the Hokies went ahead, 31-24, in the fading moments, the Mountaineers still had their chances to at least send the game into overtime.
West Virginia judiciously used the clock, getting in a goodly number of plays in the last 1:30 of the game.
On the next-to-last play, Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier threw to receiver David Sills V in the middle of the Virginia Tech end zone. The throw was about 18-20 inches off the ground and Sills V, unbothered by any defender, couldn’t make a catch. The game ended with Grier taking about nine seconds to finally throw to a well-covered target, who could have possibly made a reception in the end zone despite blanket coverage.
West Virginia had to get any sustenance from the loss from the statistics that showed the Mountaineers having 17 more offensive plays and many more yards of total offense, but showing mostly troubled special teams and an expected number of first-game mistakes.
Grier completed 31 of his 53 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Sills V caught nine passes for 94 yards and two scores. Gary Jennings had 13 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown. He had a 60-yard catch.
Justin Crawford ran 13 times of 106 yards with a long run of 42 yards. Grier ran 11 times of 52 yards.
Virginia Tech’s Jackson threw 26 times and completed 15 of them for 235 yards and a touchdown. He ran 11 times for 101 yards, once breaking off a 46-yard gallop. Cam Phillips caught seven passes for 138 yards and a score.
Neither team appeared ready to meet Alabama, Ohio State or any of the top 10 teams in the country. But both have long seasons ahead in their respective conferences and could make enough noise against their league colleagues to move through to a bowl game of some note.
The crowd got what it wanted, the start to another football season, good weather to sit through a made-long-by-television breaks game and some breath-holding moments in the last quarter.