Associated Press Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - A year after West Virginia dashed Virginia Tech's national title aspirations, the Hokies returned the favor.
Brandon Pace kicked four field goals to atone for last week's late miss and Virginia Tech played superb defense to beat No. 6 West Virginia 19-13 Saturday, paying back the Mountaineers for that 2003 upset.
"They embarrassed us last year," said Tech defensive end Jim Davis, who blocked a WVU field goal attempt in the second quarter. "All the coaches kept reminding us how they just gave it to us last year. So, they came to our house, and we had to give it back."
The Mountaineers (4-1) might have been starting to think about going undefeated, because all their remaining opponents are unranked. Last year, the Hokies' national title aspirations were dashed by a 28-7 loss at West Virginia.
"It's a long season," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. "There will be very few teams that are undefeated."
The win ended WVU's streak of 11 wins in the regular season. The last time the Mountaineers had dropped a regular-season game was a 22-20 loss to Miami on Oct. 2, 2003.
"I'm glad to win a close one," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think we could have done some things earlier to put the game away, but we kind of like to make them hard, I guess."
On the visitors' last possession, Marshall pitched the ball to Charles Hales, a backup quarterback who lined up in the backfield on the play and completed a 32-yard pass to Eddie Jackson. With a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer tacked on, WVU had the ball at Tech's 41.
But on the very next play, Fuller ended the Mountaineers' hopes by picking off a pass at the 22.
Pace made field goals of 29, 30, 35 and a career-long 46 yards, making up for a 43-yard miss as time expired in a 17-16 loss to N.C. State a week ago.
Tech's Mike Imoh gained 115 yards on the ground in his first career start, and stymied the Mountaineers in the final minutes with six carries for 20 yards to force WVU to exhaust its timeouts.
"Coaches told us on the sidelines, you need two to three first downs to end the game," Imoh said. "We were able to get a couple and were able to kill that clock out."
Tech, which used to be in the Big East with WVU, is now in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hokies and Mountaineers are scheduled to meet only once more, next season at Morgantown.
On Saturday, the teams combined for 35 penalties for 255 yards, stifling drives and keeping both teams out of scoring position.
The defense was impressive by both teams.
Tech held running backs Kay-Jay Harris and Jason Colson to a combined 69 yards. They entered Saturday averaging 199.2 yards rushing as a tandem.
Tech quarterback Bryan Randall went 16 of 34 for 142 yards, with two interceptions. Marshall was 9 of 19 for just 81 yards and the late interception, but he led his team with 74 yards rushing.
WVU finally put points on the board with under 3 minutes left in the third quarter, when Eric Wicks intercepted Randall and ran untouched 34 yards for a TD. Marshall missed the 2-point conversion, throwing over a crowd to keep it 16-6.
Tech came right back. Imoh returned the kickoff 42 yards, and Randall connected on a 15-yard pass to Josh Morgan to set up a 35-yard field goal.
When Marshall broke through the pocket and ran 46 yards down the sideline for a TD, the Mountaineers were suddenly within six points with more than 11 minutes to play.
The Hokies scored first after Harris fumbled on fourth-and-inches at the Tech 45. Josh Hyman caught a 32-yard pass, setting up Pace's 30-yard field goal.
Tech maintained the pressure in the second half. Randall ran 21 yards on a broken play in the opening drive of the third quarter to set up a 29-yard FG.
The furthest the Mountaineers got in the first half was the Hokies 24. But at the end of that drive, Jim Davis broke through the line and blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt by Brad Cooper. Fuller scooped the ball and ran 74 yards to make it 13-0.