NCAA

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

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USA Today Sports

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

LANDOVER, Maryland -- Virginia Tech made FedEx Field feel like Lane Stadium Northeast and got to bring that Black Diamond Trophy back to Blacksburg for the first time in more than a decade.

Oh, and the Hokies' new quarterback looks like a keeper, too.

Josh Jackson passed for 235 yards, ran for 101 and accounted for two touchdowns in his first start for Virginia Tech, and the No. 21 Hokies made a last-second stand to beat No. 22 West Virginia 31-24 on Sunday night.

The 52nd meeting between the Appalachian region rivals was the first since 2005. It ended up being a classic. The Hokies rushed the field after their defense held the Mountaineers out of the end zone on two last plays from the 15, and their fans screamed along to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" to celebrate.

"This was a fantastic win," Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds said with a huge grin.

Jackson, the redshirt freshman who won a three-way competition for the job, was up and down with his passing, but showed off some nifty moves running in the opener for both teams.

"I felt calm," said Jackson, the son of former longtime Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson.

Josh Jackson's 46-yard keeper up the middle -- which ended with him taking a hard low hit -- set up Travon McMillian's 3-yard touchdown run that put Virginia Tech up 31-24 with 6:30 left.

"I felt that one pretty good," Jackson said about the hit.

Jackson said he read a blitz on that play and the Mountaineers gave him all kinds of room inside.

"That was a bad, bad call by me," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said.

West Virginia's new quarterback was just as impressive. Florida transfer Will Grier, who left Gainesville after being suspended by the NCAA for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2015, pass for 371 yards and three touchdowns.

He got one more chance to tie after usually reliable Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 1:55 left.

Grier slinged and scrambled West Virginia down to the Virginia Tech 15. Hokies coach Justin Fuente used a timeout before the last two plays because he was worried his defense was getting gassed chasing the shaggy-haired quarterback.

"You just want them to hold on for one more," Fuente said.

Grier's second-to-last pass into the end zone under pressure was a little behind David Sills and it went through the falling receiver's arms.

"I thought I had him," Grier said. "I got hit and I couldn't see. I thought he caught it. That's the one I'd like to have back to get it up more for him."

It was a tough ball to catch, but Sills wasn't hearing that.

"I just got to make that play," he said. "That's really all it comes down to."

Grier's last throw sailed high and away, but a couple of penalties on the West Virginia offensive line made it moot.

Guy drops 29 points in Virginia's win over VCU

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USA Today Sports Images

Guy drops 29 points in Virginia's win over VCU

Kyle Guy scored 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes Friday, leading Virginia to a 76-67 victory against VCU.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes and Virginia (3-0) saw its lead trimmed to three at 63-60 with five minutes left. Neither team scored for the next two minutes before Guy came off a screen right in front of the Cavaliers' and doubled their lead.

Issac Vann made it 66-62 with a driving basket for VCU (2-1), but Guy hit a pair of free throws and Jerome followed with a 3-pointer.

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Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU's pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 12-5 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Saint Louis tops Virginia Tech behind Bess' 22 points

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Saint Louis tops Virginia Tech behind Bess' 22 points

NEW YORK -- Character was the theme espoused by Saint Louis coach Travis Ford and Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams.

Ford praised his team's ethos, as opposed to Williams, who wondered about his squad's makeup.

"What haunts me is our character was revealed in how we played," Williams said after Saint Louis topped Virginia Tech, 77-71, in the opening round of the 2K Classic on Thursday night.

"This was the first time I was caught off-guard," Williams said.

Javon Bess scored 22 points and Jordan Goodwin added 19 for Saint Louis (3-0).

"All week in practice we worked on getting back in transition," Goodwin said. "Make sure we help each other out. We take pride in our defense. Sometimes the offense might not go but every night we guard we're going to be there every play."

Despite getting a career-high 26 points from Ahmed Hill, Virginia Tech fell to 2-1. Justin Bibbs scored 15 in his first game of the season after sitting out the first two games for disciplinary reasons. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 10 before fouling out.

"They were tougher than us from start to finish," Williams said. "I didn't think we were ever in the fight. I don't think we were ever in the mix."

The eighth all-time matchup between the Atlantic 10 and Atlantic Coast Conference programs was taut as St. Louis' 61-49 advantage with 7:57 left was the largest lead for either team.

On the strength of an 11-3 run, though, Virginia Tech cut the deficit to 64-60. Four points is as close as the Hokies would get.

Davell Rovy's baseline layup pushed the lead back to 66-60. Bess made seven free throws and Goodwin three in the final minute to help seal the win.

"It was good to see," Ford said. "We've had some really poor performances from the free-throw line in some games -- exhibition games and different things; we've had some other games where we've shot them a little bit better -- it was good to see because I think that's when you're tested.

"I've seen that from Javon. I've seen that from Jordan and different guys. When it's on the line, they seem to rise to the occasion."

Benefiting an early-season game, there were areas in which Williams and Ford to work on with their teams. For the Hokies, free-throw shooting was a significant issue as they made only 23 of 36 (63.9 percent).

Saint Louis made just 4 of 18 from the arc.

"I thought they overwhelmed us," Williams said.