BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — JT Daniels threw for 203 yards and a touchdown to lead West Virginia to a 33-10 win over Virginia Tech Thursday night.
Freshman CJ Donaldson rushed for 106 yards and West Virginia (2-2) produced a strong display from his defense to win his second straight game after losing the first two.
“It was a great win,” said West Virginia coach Neal Brown. “I felt great when our prep came in and this is one of the hardest places to come in and play. I felt really good. That’s something we thought about for a long time when we found out this was going to be a Thursday night game. I thought we were playing fast. We were really physical.”
The Mountaineers, who defeated Virginia Tech for the second straight season, scored five straight goals in the first and second halves. Daniels’ 24-yard touchdown pass to Sam James with 11 seconds left in the first half gave the Mountaineers a 13-7 lead and they were never behind again.
“It was big,” Brown said of the score. “I felt like we had the game under control but the scoreboard didn’t say that. I thought from that drive on we were really in control.”
The Hokies (2-2) closed within 16-10 after a field goal by Will Ross at 4:19 in the third quarter. West Virginia responded, hitting a 6-yard run by Justin Johnson Jr. with a 14-13 in the game. The Hokies had stopped West Virginia twice on the drive, but personal foul penalties on Norell Pollard and Dax Hollifield kept the drive alive.
Penalties handicapped the Hokies all night. They obligated 15 for 132 yards.
“I think we’re pushing and we’re getting out of shape,” said Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry, whose team conceded 15 penalties at the Old Dominion in their other loss of the season. “We feel like we have to do things that go beyond that. We have to stay in frame and play with the fundamentals and technique to pay attention to what we’re doing.
“Sometimes I look out there. and it’s like a panic. We don’t play together, we don’t play as a unit and we have to train them in the process. We need to fix this. This is the second time in a tense situation that we have not reacted. We have to improve there.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers picked up a nice win for Brown, who moved to 19-20 in his fourth year in West Virginia. They played solidly in all three phases, but especially on the defensive. A unit that gave up 73 points in losses to Pittsburgh and Kansas held the Hokies for just 228 yards and also scored on an interception return.
“That’s how we play defense here,” Brown said. “We had a deviation against Kansas a few weeks ago – thank them. But that’s not how we’re going to defend here. I thought tonight would be closer.”
Virginia Tech: The Hokies were not good at any stage of the game and have not beaten a non-conference Power 5 team at Lane Stadium since 2009. Losing to the Mountaineers at Lane Stadium was their worst yet.
BIG DAY FOR WVU BACKS
Donaldson’s performance marked his third 100-yard effort in four games. The 240-pound back came to West Virginia as a close end, but staff moved it to the jam. Behind Donaldson and Johnson Jr., who rushed for 83 yards, West Virginia amassed 218 yards on the ground and moved to 15-2 under Brown as he rushed at least 100 yards.
“I always do,” Daniels said when asked if he expected the Mountaineers to succeed in rushing. “I think we are very physical. We’ve been how this team has been since I’ve been here, especially up front led by (Zach) Frazier. With a whole bunch of great running backs, I expect to run like this every time.”
RIVALRY ON HIATUS
Thursday night’s game marked the last game scheduled between Virginia Tech and West Virginia — two campuses just four hours apart. The Mountaineers want to play more regularly, but Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock has filled the Hokies’ future non-conference schedule with struggling Power 5 programs like Vanderbilt, Rutgers, Arizona and Maryland in addition to long streaks of state foes Old Reign and Freedom. Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule is filled through the 2031 season.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers play in Texas on October 1.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play North Carolina on October 1.
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