In Thursday night college football action, JT Daniels and the Mountaineers went on the road and dominated Virginia Tech for an impressive 33-10 victory in what will be the final meeting between the two school for the foreseeable future. The twice transferred Daniels (USC, Georgia) has found a home in Morgantown and looks to have West Virginia headed in the right direction as he completed 20 of 30 pass attempts for 203 yards and 1 touchdown pass.
After starting the season 0-2, including a heartbreaking loss to Pitt on opening night, West Virginia improved to 2-2 by winning its second straight game. It wasn't only Daniels who shined on Thursday night, as the Mountaineers put together a total team performance in their rout of the Hokies. Behind a stingy defense that held Viginia Tech to 35 yards rushing and punishing ground attack that saw freshman CJ Donaldson rush for 106 yards, the Hokies had no answers for WVU in the home blowout loss.
After a slow start, the Mountaineers scored on five consecutive possessions. Starting with a Daniels' 24-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the first half, the Mountaineers never looked back and never trailed after taking a 13-7 lead.
Even though West Virginia seemed to be in control all night, the Hokies were able to hang around, only trailing 16-10 heading into the 4th quarter. Just as the Hokies looked to get back in the game trailing 16-10, West Virginia's Justin Johnson Jr. capped off a 9 play 75-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to give West Virginia a 23-10 lead.
While West Virginia played well, Virginia Tech didn't do themselves any favors as the Hokies committed 15 penalties for a total of 132 yards. This is now the second game of the season in which Virginia tech has been called for 15 penalties, having hit the same mark for fouls in a loss to Old Dominion earlier in the year.
In a much-needed win for the Mountaineers, West Virginia coach Neal Brown was especially happy with the performance of the defense. The WVU Defense held Virginia Tech to 228 total yards including only 35 on the ground while also adding a pick 6 late in the game. The 10 points allowed was a welcome relief for a West Virginia team that gave up 38 to Pitt and 55 in a stunning loss to Kansas.
In addition to the defense, the Mountaineers continued to show improvement in their rushing attack, gaining 218 yards on the ground. The running backs were led by 6'2 240-pound CJ Donaldson (106 yards rushing) who eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the third time in 4 games. Donaldson is a bruising back who actually arrived at WVU as a Tight End before being switched over to running back.
The Mountaineers are happy to leave Blacksburg with a win, as this appears to be the final match between Virginia Tech and West Virginia for quite some time. Unless the Athletic directors decide to make a change, this may be the last time the two schools who are located only 4 hours apart will meet on the field for the foreseeable future.
West Virginia looks to ride the momentum of this win into a tough matchup on the road against the Texas Longhorns next Saturday, while Virginia Tech looks to rebound against an explosive North Carolina team.