BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Grant Wells threw three touchdown passes and rushed for a score to lead Virginia Tech to a 36-17 season-opening win over Old Dominion on Saturday night.
Wells, who won the starting quarterback job over Baylor transfer Kyron Drones in the preseason, completed 17 of 29 passes for 251 yards to help the Hokies avenge a 20-17 upset loss to the Monarchs in last year’s season opener.
“We’re pretty levelheaded,” Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry said. “We’re not going to get too high or too low. We didn’t do that last year, and we certainly could have. We’ll enjoy the win, and there will be some light-hearted moments before we get into the film (Sunday), but there will be plenty to correct and plenty to work on. We still have a pretty long way to go to be the team that we can be.”
Wells threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to Jaylin Lane, and from 10 and six yards out to Ali Jennings, as the Hokies snapped a 14-game streak of scoring fewer than 30 points. Wells also scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter for Virginia Tech, which scored the game’s final 13 points.
“I was extremely confident,” Wells said. “We had a really good plan going into the game. We felt really good about how the guys were playing. We’re playing as one unit. We’re playing fast. I thought (Tyler) Bowen (Virginia Tech’s offensive coordinator) called a really great game. He stuck to the game plan, and we were excited to move the ball like we did.”
Jennings, a transfer from ODU, victimized his former team, catching five passes for 72 yards and the two scores.
Grant Wilson threw two touchdown passes and rushed for 81 yards to lead the Monarchs, who lost for the seventh consecutive time dating to last season.
“When we do our job, it’s a great football game,” ODU coach Ricky Rahne said. “When we don’t do our job, they beat us. That’s the story of the game. I don’t want to minimize it. They did their job more often than we did. I don’t think we gave them anything. They did their job, and we didn’t. That’s how you play winning football.”
ODU: None of the quarterbacks on the Monarchs roster had ever played in an FBS game, but Wilson acquitted himself well. His timely runs on quarterback keepers were troublesome for the Hokies, who allowed 201 yards rushing. That type of play will be needed for an ODU team that has just six seniors.
Virginia Tech: This was a strong opening performance for the Hokies, who went 3-8 last season. Virginia Tech, which entered the game as a 16-point favorite, did not turn the ball over, punted only twice and committed just three penalties. More impressively, the Hokies scored their most points in second-year coach Brent Pry’s tenure.
Virginia Tech’s roster features 11 transfers, and Saturday, three of those transfers accounted for all the touchdowns. Wells transferred from Marshall two years ago, while Jennings came over from ODU and Lane from Middle Tennessee State this past offseason. Lane caught four passes for 69 yards against ODU.
“The one advantage you have in the transfer portal is that you have guys that have done it at the college level,” Pry said. “It may not be in the ACC, but they’ve done it against older guys. You get a little bit better evaluation than maybe you do off the high school tape. We certainly knew those guys could be productive for us. They’ve done it in the spring, and they’ve done it in preseason camp.”
ODU: The Monarchs host Louisiana on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies host Purdue on Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll