Old Dominion went more than 59 minutes without an offensive touchdown but got one when it mattered most to upset Virginia Tech 20-17 in a wild in-state showdown on Friday night. Running back Blake Watson surged across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left to cap a 74-yard go-ahead drive following Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells' third of four interceptions on the night.
The stunning victory marks just the second win over a Power Five program for the Monarchs -- both over the Hokies. Old Dominion previously topped Virginia Tech 49-35 in 2018.
Turnovers plagued the Hokies in Brent Pry's first game as head coach. Most notably, a botched snap on a field goal attempt with 1:26 left in the second quarter led to a scoop-and-score touchdown from ODU's Robert Kennedy. That 10-point swing sent the Monarchs into halftime with a 10-7 lead.
Still, it looked like Virginia Tech's defense was positioned to carry it to a Week 1 victory until OId Dominion's offense found life with the game on the line. The Monarchs had amassed just 168 total yards game when they regained possession for what turned out to be the game-winning drive.
Old Dominion was just a 6.5-point underdog after winning its final five regular-season games in 2021 to reach the Myrtle Beach Bowl. With the Hokies undergoing the transition to Pry from Justin Fuente, Friday night's outcome only underscored the reality of the rebuild that lays ahead in Blacksburg.
Though its defense was stout most of the game, Virginia Tech's offense struggled with execution throughout the night. Wells, a Marshall transfer, completed 21 of 36 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. His four interceptions were particularly costly, however, and it was fitting that Virginia Tech's last-gasp offensive possession ended with a Wells interception to seal the game.
A budding rivalry
With Old Dominion less than a decade into its tenure at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and Virginia Tech sporting an established identity in the sport, it can be easy to mistake Friday night's outcome as an unlikely fluke. But the teams have now split four meetings over the past six seasons in an indication that this is no anomaly. Old Dominion won at home against the Hokies in 2018, while Virginia Tech won home games in the series in 2017 and 2019.
The teams are scheduled to play in each of the next nine seasons with four of those contests coming at Old Dominion. Given the competitiveness of the series so far and its in-state nature, it looks like a true rivalry is brewing.
The start of the second half was delayed by several minutes for a peculiar reason. A few Virginia Tech assistant coaches were stranded in an elevator at ODU's S.B. Ballard Stadium as they tried to return to the coaches box for the second half. It was a strange situation that fit well in a quirky game. The additional time for brainstorming didn't seem to benefit the Hokies' staff too much, however.