BLACKSBURG, Va. - Ryan Willis threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Virginia Tech beat Old Dominion 31-17 on Saturday.
The Hokies (1-1) avenged a stunning loss to the Monarchs last season, taking a 17-3 first-half lead and responding when Old Dominion pulled within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Willis, who had four turnovers in a season-opening loss at Boston College, and Deshawn McClease each lost a fumble in the closing minutes, but the defense stiffened to give Virginia Tech just its fourth victory in its last 11 games.
Stone Smartt scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards for the Monarchs (1-1), but was helped off the field after a 2-yard run with 5:31 to play.
Willis hit Hezekiah Grimsley with a 9-yard scoring pass in the right corner of the end zone in the second quarter. Grimsley gained control of the ball with his right hand and then pulled it into his body. Willis also hit Phil Patterson from 13 yards out on third-and-6 to restore the Hokies' two-touchdown cushion with 11:56 to play, and he finished a 93-yard drive for a 24-3 lead with a 1-yard run early in the third quarter.
He was replaced by Hendon Hooker after the fumble.
Keshawn King also scored on a 4-yard run for the Hokies, who were stunned 49-35 when they played at Old Dominion a year ago.
Old Dominion: Despite its victory last season, Old Dominion is not ready to contend against the Hokies and Power Five schools. The Monarchs came into the game with 47 players that had never seen action for ODU, including 14 junior college transfers. They also had 20 players that redshirted last year, but have to like what they have seen from Smartt. The junior college transfer has been accurate with the ball as a passer and had several clutch runs against the Hokies.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies' attention to getting a running game going seemed to finally pay off in the third quarter when McClease, who'd gained just 22 yards on nine first-half carries seemingly found a rhythm. McClease gained 37 yards on six tries in a 93-yard drive to the 24-3 lead, but lost a fourth-quarter fumble.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs have a bye next weekend and play at Virginia on Sept. 21.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play host to Furman next Saturday.
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