MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Virginia Tech and West Virginia will meet for the 54th time this Thursday, and in a series that has been tight (WVU leads 29-23-1) with the Black Diamond Trophy going to the winner, plenty of memories come flooding back for fans of both schools every time the two old rivals get together.
With 17 games decided by one score or less, there have certainly been some classic battles, and this week, we take a look at 10 of the most memorable contests in the series. Here are the top five on the list.
5. 2003 — Despite a Mountaineer win in Blacksburg the year before, the No. 3 Hokies were a heavy favorite when they came to Morgantown to face the 2-4 Mountaineers on Oct. 22, 2003. But WVU was paying little attention to the forecasts.
WVU set the tone early with touchdown runs from Kay-Jay Harris and Quincy Wilson, and not even a controversial 50-yard fumble return by Tech’s Vincent Fuller could dampen the spirits of a rowdy gold and blue crowd. WVU opened the second half with a 93-yard touchdown strike from Rasheed Marshall to Travis Garvin, and there was no looking back as the Mountaineers added a Marshall touchdown run to win convincingly, 28-7.
4. 1974 — The two teams first met in 1912, but it took until 1973 for an annual series to begin. The first big game in the series, though, came on Nov. 23, 1974, at Lane Stadium. Both squads had struggled through difficult seasons, but they wanted to end it the right way. The game was so intense that WVU head coach Bobby Bowden picked up a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls for arguing with the officials.
The Mountaineers led 7-6 at halftime on the strength of a 99-yard Marcus Mauney interception return and they extended the lead to 14-6 on an 85-yard Artie Owens rush to begin the second half. Tech, though, tied it up near the end of the third quarter on a 43-yard Roscoe Coles rush and the ensuing 2-point conversion.
The Hokies then took their first lead of the game with 6:29 to play when Coles found the end zone from two yards out. But WVU wasn’t finished. Dan Kendra connected with Bernie Kirchner on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 1:28 on the clock, and instead of kicking the extra point, Bowden decided to go for the win. Marshall Mills’ pass was successful, and WVU took a 22-21 lead. Tech did have one final scoring chance, but its field goal attempt missed the mark, and the Mountaineers celebrated victory.
3. 1993 — Virginia Tech was looking to play spoiler on Oct. 2, 1993. This Mountaineer team was barely in the polls at No. 25, but it was still perfect on the season and looking to continue to build. Tech scored first on a 33-yard touchdown strike from Maurice DeShazo to Cornelius White, and that was the only score in the opening half of a defensive struggle.
WVU finally got on the board in the third quarter with a pair of Todd Sauerbrun field goals and a safety, but the 8-7 lead was short-lived as Steve Sanders hauled in a 46-yard touchdown pass from DeShazo to put the visitors from Blacksburg back in front. The 2-point conversion failed, however, and that proved costly as WVU finally found the end zone for the first time all game on a Rodney Woodard plunge with 4:08 remaining. WVU escaped with a 14-13 victory and went on to a perfect 11-0 regular season.
2. 1999 — West Virginia got its opportunity to play spoiler on Nov. 6, 1999, when the unranked Mountaineers hosted Michael Vick and the Hokies, who were undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the land. The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter with Andre Kendrick rushing for a 46-yard Hokie score and Khori Ivy hauling in a six-yard touchdown pass from Marc Bulger for the Mountaineers.
A Shayne Graham field goal and a safety put the visitors ahead 12-7 at the end of the third quarter, and it looked as though they were ready to put it away when Shyrone Stith found the end zone from 6 yards out with 4:59 to play in the game to put the Hokies ahead 19-7.
But WVU wasn’t done. The Mountaineers got a big return and then marched 39 yards in seven plays before Brad Lewis, subbing for an injured Bulger, connected with Jerry Porter for a score. Two minutes later, the Mountaineers were in the end zone again when Lewis hit Ivy for an 18-yard score. Ahead 20-19 with 1:15 on the clock, WVU attempted to stretch the lead to three, but the two-point conversion failed.
In a signature moment in Vick’s fantastic collegiate career, he led the Hokies down the field and made an incredible play when it looked as though he was about to step out of bounds on a scramble. Instead, he surprised WVU defender Barrett Green, cut back inside and ran 26 yards down the sideline. It set up a 44-yard Graham field goal as time expired, keeping the Hokies’ perfect season alive. Tech ended the season in the Sugar Bowl against Florida State with a national title on the line. FSU won, 46-29.
1. 2002 — West Virginia was 6-3 when it traveled to Blacksburg on a Wednesday night to face the No. 13 Hokies on Nov. 20, 2002. But the Mountaineers weren’t getting much national respect. After finishing 3-8 in his first season in Morgantown, WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez was still searching for a signature win to announce his arrival to the nation. He found just that on a chilly night at Lane Stadium.
Ahead 14-10 at the half, WVU really put the pressure on the Hokies late in the third when Quincy Wilson rumbled 42 yards for a touchdown that put the Mountaineers up 21-10. Tech quickly answered back with a touchdown of its own with 1:29 to play in the third, but defenses took over in the final frame.
The Hokies had a chance to pull in front with a little less than 4 minutes to play, but the WVU defense came through in a big way, stopping three straight rushes from the one-yard line to force a turnover. Grant Wiley jumped over the line and stuffed Lee Suggs on fourth down.
WVU couldn’t move the ball and elected to take a safety rather than punt out of the end zone against Tech’s legendary “Beamer Ball” special teams. The Hokies marched down the field and were in range for a game-tying field goal when quarterback Bryan Randall instead tried to win it with a throw to the end zone. There waiting was WVU’s Brian King, and his interception closed the door on a 21-18 Mountaineer victory.