Mountaineers Reclaim the Black Diamond Trophy
Two teams renewed an old rivalry Saturday, as the 15th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies traveled to Morgantown. The sellout crowd in Old Gold provided the backdrop for a solid home win for Head Coach Neal Brown. By a final score of 27-21, the Mountaineers reclaim the Black Diamond Trophy.
WVU Establishes The Run
As we wrote in our game preview, the Mountaineers had to establish the run game early and play much tougher on the line in order to win. They definitely did that. On the second play of the game, in fact, Leddie Brown ran up the middle untouched for an 80-yard touchdown run. That would be a check on the run game.
They continued to run throughout the game . As of the end of the third quarter, the Mountaineers piled up 162 yards on the ground with over seven-and-a-half yards per carry. In the fourth quarter, they simply continued to grind the clock relying heavily on the run, especially after establishing a 24-7 lead at halftime.
The Defense Stood the Test
Relying on speed rallying around the strength of its line, the Mountaineer defense certainly did its part. They allowed just 139 yards through the first half. They also held the Hokies’ ground game to two-and-a-half yards per carry.
Even when the Hokies tried to go to their strength, making plays in space, West Virginia offered sure tackling and kept plays in front of them. Generally willing to cede a few modest-gain plays, the Mountaineers certainly limited big plays to just a handful.
They used that momentum to dial up pressure in the second half, led by Jared Bartlett, who tallied a few tackles for loss, three sacks, and a strip that was recovered by Lance Dixon to keep the Hokies off the board on 4th and goal late in the fourth.
Speaking of Dixon, we predicted he would be a surprise for the WVU defense this year. Today, he proved he is a “guy.” Opposing offenses definitely need to look for him. He offers speed and athleticism, and his impact will only increase as he grows more comfortable in this system.
Jarret Doege Played Safe . . . (Until)
Jarret Doege had some head-scratching moments. On the first play of the game, for example, Sam James made a great cut to leave his defender behind him by several yards. Doege, however, overthrew him on a sure touchdown play. Doege had a couple more overthrows on would-be touchdowns, including one to Winston Wright in the second quarter.
That said, outside of a fumble in the fourth on a blind-side sack, Doege took care of the football. He also made several good throws, including a 30-yard touchdown bomb to Bryce Ford-Wheaton. We still think Doege has his limitations. His completion percentage on throws beyond ten yards remains low. That was no different today, and, this time, he cannot blame his receivers, who did not register a single drop.
Mountaineers Survive Late Push And Mistake
Late in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers led 27-14. Playing it safe, the Mountaineers ran the ball to eat up clock. Despite some solid pressure by the defense, the Hokies managed their third score of the game with roughly four minutes to go.
On the ensuing drive, the Mountaineers needed a first down in order to control its own fate. At the most inopportune moment, however, the referees called Doug Nester for a false start on the smallest of twitches, negating what was likely a first down run by Garrett Greene.
On the very next play, Doege threw a screen pass into a crowd. The Hokies came up with the interception. It was a bad decision, period. Several plays later, the Mountaineers’ defense faced fourth-and-goal, and, as has been the case many times during the Neal Brown Era, the defense came up with a game-saving stop.
Just like that, the Mountaineers reclaim the Black Diamond Trophy, but not without some late-game dramatics (in true West Virginia fashion).