Hokies hold off West Virginia for thrilling victory in season opener

Posted at 11:55 PM, Sep 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-03 23:56:24-04

Quarterback Josh Jackson drops back to pass against West Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

LANDOVER, Md. ( - Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson threw a touchdown pass and ran for a touchdown pass in his collegiate debut and Cam Phillips had a career-high 138 yards receiving to lift the No. 21 Hokies to a 31-24 victory over No. 22 West Virginia in the season opener Friday evening at FedExField.

Renewing a rivalry that had been dormant since 2005, the Hokies and Mountaineers went back and forth in the second half before Tech scored late to give the Hokies their eighth win over the Mountaineers in the past 11 meetings.

With the game tied at 24, the Hokies took over at their own 18 and Jackson went to work. A 12-yard run, a 22-yard pass to Sean Savoy and a 46-yard run to the West Virginia 2 ultimately set up Travon McMillian’s 3-yard touchdown run with 6:30 to go that gave Tech a 31-24 lead.

West Virginia drove to the Tech 15 in the waning moments. With 2 seconds to go, WVU quarterback Will Grier threw a pass that fell incomplete in the back corner of the end zone. A West Virginia holding penalty would have negated the play anyway, and the Hokies celebrated.

Jackson, a redshirt freshman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, completed 15 of 26 for 235 yards and a score. He also rushed for 101 yards on a night when Tech finished with 469 yards of total offense – and perhaps more importantly, no turnovers. He was the first freshman QB to start a season opener for Virginia Tech since Mike Vick in 1999.

Phillips caught seven passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Salem High School (Virginia Beach) product Trevon Hill intercepted a pass in the second quarter and also recorded four tackles in the game. In the third quarter, Oscar Smith High School (Chesapeake) alumnus Deshawn McClease broke a 10-10 tie with a 12 yard touchdown run. For the game, McClease carried the ball eight times for 51 yards.

Grier threw for 371 yards and three scores for the Mountaineers.