MORGANTOWN, W. VA. - In the last scheduled game of the Tech-West Virginia border war series, Tech quarterback Marcus Vick played a terrific game, and the Hokies played turnover-free and relatively penalty-free football en route to a 34-17 non-conference victory over West Virginia in front of 60,193 fans at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Hokies, ranked No. 3 in both polls, improved to 5-0 on the season. As for their series with the Mountaineers, the Hokies improved to 9-16 against WVU in Morgantown and 6-7 at Mountaineer Field. Tech head coach Frank Beamer improved to 12-7 overall against the Mountaineers, including a 6-5 record in Morgantown.
"To come in here in this environment against a tough and good West Virginia team, and to get a win, I think this one is really special," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "I've said it before, but I think they're going to be a factor in the Big East. So to get a win here is special."
As for special, Vick played a near-perfect game on this day, completing 15-of-17 for 177 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The redshirt junior from Newport News, Va., has now thrown just one interception in 91 attempts this season. He also rushed for 74 yards and one touchdown against the Mountaineers.
"I think I can get a lot better," Vick said. "I think we can get better as an offense. We need to get our running backs going. But our offensive line played great today and we were able to move the ball. The defense had their ups and downs, but that's what football is all about and we were able to pick them up."
"I thought he played well," Beamer said of Vick. "He put the ball where it had to be. He ran the clock down at the end. He's just the calmest guy in the house, and I thought he showed it today."
Vick got Tech going in this one, taking advantage of a big play by Tech's defense. Darryl Tapp, the Hokies' All-American candidate at defensive end, stripped WVU tailback Pernell Williams of the football on WVU's second possession and Tech's Aaron Rouse recovered at the WVU 24, giving the Hokies a golden opportunity.
Tech capitalized. On third-and-9 from the WVU 10, Vick kept the ball on a quarterback draw and ran right up the gut 10 yards for a touchdown. Brandon Pace's extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first quarter.
Tech took a 10-0 lead before WVU got on the board. The Mountaineers converted on fourth-and-1 from the Tech 6 on a 1-yard run by tailback Jason Gwaltney, and then scored when quarterback Pat White fired a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Villagrana - Villagrana's first career reception. Pat McAfee's extra point cut the Hokies' lead to 10-7 with 11:20 left in the first half.
Tech took a 17-7 lead on a Vick touchdown pass to tight end Jeff King, but the Mountaineers again rallied. WVU cut the lead to three on a 46-yard touchdown pass from White to Dorrell Jalloh - Jalloh's first career reception.
The big play in the game came late in the first half. WVU punt returner Antonio Lewis tried to field a punt, but the ball caromed off his right shoulder. Tech's D.J. Parker caught the deflection, giving Tech possession at the WVU 30.
Vick took care of things from there. He hit receiver Eddie Royal with a strike that went for 15 yards and a touchdown that gave Tech a 24-14 lead going into the locker room. That swung the momentum in Tech's favor.
"I thought that was one of the biggest plays in the game," Parker said. "I was just hustling down the field, doing what I was supposed to do. Things can happen, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I thought that gave us momentum, and when we scored, we had the momentum heading into the locker room."
In the second half, the Hokies played keep away, holding the ball for more than 20 minutes. They expanded their lead to 27-14 on a 41-yard field goal by Pace that capped a 13-play drive. Then after McAfee hit a 21-yard field goal for WVU to cut the lead to 27-17, Tech again went on a long drive. The Hokies marched 80 yards in 10 plays and Cedric Humes ended it with a 4-yard touchdown run that put the game away. Humes paced the Hokies with 79 yards rushing on 22 carries. As a team, Tech rushed for 214 yards on a day in which it finished with 391 yards.
"It felt great to see the offense go out there and make a statement like that," Rouse said. "It shows we're not just a defensive team. As a defensive player, it's great to have an offense that can go out there and pick you up and make plays."
Tech also got a big day from Royal, the sophomore from Herndon, Va., who had gotten off to a slow start this season. Royal caught a team-high six passes for 71 yards and the one touchdown.
White paced WVU's attack, going 9-of-11 for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Steve Slaton rushed for 90 yards to aid the WVU attack.
Tech will remain in non-conference action next weekend. The Hokies return to Lane Stadium next Saturday for a game against Marshall - a game that will serve as Homecoming for Tech. Kickoff is slated for noon.