West Virginia relishes Black Diamond Trophy win over Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG — The Black Diamond Trophy will be staying in West Virginia for the foreseeable future.

West Virginia University won that trophy for the second straight year by squashing Virginia Tech 33-10 on Thursday night at Lane Stadium.

WVU players took turns holding the trophy aloft on the field at game’s end.

“That trophy’s everything to us,” WVU receiver Kaden Prather said later. “It’s going to be in Morgantown for awhile.”

Indeed. Thursday’s game was the last scheduled meeting in the series.

“These are moments that you’ll never forget,” WVU nose guard Jordan Jefferson said later of the trophy celebration. “The Black Diamond Trophy will be in Morgantown for a long time, so that’s great.”

While some players celebrated with the Black Diamond Trophy, a few of the Mountaineers took turns waving the West Virginia state flag.

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After the game, West Virginia fans began singing “Country Roads.”

The Mountaineers (2-2) recorded their most lopsided victory in the series since winning 28-0 at home in 1961. It was their most lopsided victory ever in Blacksburg.

To get ready for the loud Virginia Tech crowd, West Virginia had practiced to the Hokies’ entrance music — “Enter Sandman.”

“We prepared for that atmosphere all week,” Prather said. “What’s it called? The Sandman? We played it all day at practice.”

The Mountaineers opened the season on Sept. 1 with a nationally televised Thursday night road game against old rival Pittsburgh. They lost 38-31.

Three weeks later, WVU got to play another nationally televised Thursday night game against an old rival.

“We talked about this being a redemption game for us,” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “We had a Thursday night game that didn’t go our way. … Here we are, another opportunity, prime-time television, … rivalry game, and this time we got it done. And we got it done convincingly.”

West Virginia got off to an 0-2 start this season, including a 55-42 overtime loss to Kansas.

“The story of our downturn was probably exaggerated,” Brown said. “I knew we were close.”

The defense was much more formidable Thursday night than it had been against the Jayhawks.

“That’s how we play defense here,” Brown said. “We had an aberration a couple weeks ago against Kansas.”

West Virginia held the Hokies to just 35 rushing yards.

“Our D-line was really dominant,” Brown said. “We’re good up front.”

The Hokies mustered just 228 yards of total offense. They were 2 of 10 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.

The Mountaineers rushed for 218 yards, while Georgia transfer JT Daniels passed for 203 yards.

West Virginia kept the ball for 38 minutes and 44 seconds. The Mountaineers picked up 32 first downs.

“Offensively, we controlled the game,” Brown said.

Leading 7-3, the Hokies went for it on fourth and 1 from the WVU 18 midway through the second quarter. But Tech quarterback Grant Wells was stopped for no gain.

“It was huge … from a confidence standpoint,” Brown said. “We played differently after that fourth-down stop.

“I don’t blame [Tech coach Brent Pry] for going for it. The wind … was a factor in the game. It was a factor for them kicking, for us kicking, for us catching punts, for them catching punts. … It was swirling.”

West Virginia did not score on its next series. But the Mountaineers then scored on their final two drives of the first half and on their first three drives of the second half.

“We made a couple adjustments at halftime in the run game,” Brown said. “We made sure we moved our pieces a little bit more in the second half.”

West Virginia grabbed the lead for good on a six-play, 70-yard drive that took only 50 seconds. Daniels threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Sam James to give the visitors a 13-7 lead with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.

“The drive before half was big,” Brown said. “We managed the clock well. JT does a really nice job in those situations … because he’s just relaxed and he’s played a lot of football and he’s highly intelligent. … That was the only time they showed that [Tampa-2] coverage the whole first half, was on the touchdown play. And JT located the two-safety defense.”

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