MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jarret Doege threw two touchdown passes, Leddie Brown rushed for 106 yards and a score and West Virginia survived No. 15 Virginia Tech‘s furious rally from a 20-point deficit to outlast the Hokies 27-21 on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (2-1) built a 27-7 lead midway through the third quarter but saw it mostly evaporate behind Virginia Tech’s Braxton Burmeister.
Burmeister threw for two scores, including a 29-yard TD toss to Jalen Holston with 3:10 left. Virginia Tech got the ball back with 2:11 remaining on Jermaine Waller‘s interception of Doege at the West Virginia 17, but Burmeister threw incomplete on fourth-and-goal from the 3 and West Virginia ran out the clock.
It was one of three Virginia Tech drives that stalled inside the West Virginia 10, with the Hokies coming away with no points. Burmeister finished 18 of 30 for 207 yards.
Virginia Tech (2-1) had allowed only three touchdowns in its first two games but gave up two quick scores to the Mountaineers, who couldn’t keep up the momentum after halftime.
Still, the quality win over an ACC opponent in the Hokies will be cherished in and around the West Virginia program, especially after the Mountaineers opened the season dropping a game to Maryland of the Big Ten.
“Winning is hard and we talked about it before the game,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “I thought this was going to be a defining moment for us, for this team and where we’re at.
“I’m worn out. I feel like I’ve played.”
West Virginia doesn’t have a reputation for fast drives but jumped ahead 14-0 less than 6 minutes into the game.
Brown, who had five touchdowns entering the game but had been limited to 104 rushing yards, went 80 yards up the middle for a score on West Virginia’s second play from scrimmage.
The Mountaineers needed only three plays on their next drive, which was helped by a hands-to-the-face call on Virginia Tech linebacker Keshon Artis. On the next play, Doege found Bryce Ford-Wheaton in the end zone into double coverage from 29 yards out.
After West Virginia extended the lead to 24-7 in the second quarter on Doege’s 16-yard TD throw to Sam James and a short field goal by Casey Legg, Raheem Blackshear returned a kickoff 78 yards to the West Virginia 22. But John Parker Romo missed a short field goal try just before halftime.
Burmeister overcame a sack to throw three straight completions near the end of the third quarter, and his 25-yard scramble on third down set up Blackshear’s 20-yard scoring run at the end of the third to close the gap to 27-14.
Doege finished 15 of 26 for 193 yards and West Virginia outgained the Hokies 318 to 308.
Virginia Tech, in its first road game, seemed fazed by the sellout crowd, especially early on, and couldn’t capitalize on the many opportunities they had to score.
The Hokies, among the more talked-about programs after a Week 1 upset of North Carolina, will most certainly take a tumble when The Associated Press poll comes out Sunday.
“Our guys came back in the second half and really just kept fighting and scratching and clawing, and ultimately gave us the chance to win the game there,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “Our guys are pretty crushed. We’re all crushed.”
For West Virginia, the victory will certainly build some confidence as it prepares for No. 3 Oklahoma next Saturday in its Big 12 opener. The Mountaineers have never beaten the Sooners since entering the league in 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.