NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Blake LaRussa came off the bench to throw for 495 yards and four touchdowns to lead Old Dominion to a 49-35 upset of No. 13 Virginia Tech on Saturday in the Hokies’ first game at the cross-state school that restarted its football program in 2009. Virginia Tech was a 28.5-point favorite entering the game.
LaRussa, who entered the game on ODU’s second series, completed 30 of 49 and rushed for a touchdown to lead the 28½-point underdog Monarchs (1-3) to a stunning win over the Hokies (2-1) from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jeremy Cox’s 40-yard touchdown run with 1:34 remaining sealed the biggest win in program history. After the game, the ODU faithful stormed the field.
The Hokies (2-1) led 28-21 after a 72-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jackson to Damon Hazelton with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, but ODU scored on its next two possessions, taking a 35-28 lead on a 15-yard touchdown run by Cox with 9:57 to go – the Monarchs first lead of the game.
Things got worse for Virginia Tech, as Jackson went down with a lower leg injury on the first play of the ensuing drive. Backup quarterback Ryan Willis led the Hokies on a 75-yard march that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cunningham with 7:15 remaining, tying the game at 35.
But the Hokies simply had no answer for ODU. LaRussa polished off a 75-yard drive with a beautiful 29-yard fade pattern to Jonathan Duhart for a touchdown with 5:11 left that was the game winner.
Led by LaRussa and Cox, ODU finished with 632 yards of offense against a Virginia Tech team that has prided itself on defense for decades under coordinator Bud Foster. Cox rushed for 130 yards.
Steven Peoples paced the Hokies with a career-high 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Jackson threw two touchdown passes before leaving with the injury.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies looked flat coming off an unscheduled open week courtesy of Hurricane Florence, which forced last Saturday’s cancelation of Virginia Tech’s game against East Carolina. The Hokies’ defense looked nothing like the unit that had given up just 20 points combined in the first two games.
Foster will have to shore up a banged-up secondary, as Tech heads into ACC play.
ODU: The Monarch appear to have found a leader in LaRussa, who came into the game with 183 yards passing as a reserve, but surpassed that in the first half. The 5-foot-11 LaRussa showed uncanny accuracy against Virginia Tech’s man coverage, taking advantage of the 6-foot-3 Duhart and 6-3 Travis Fulgham (188 yards). He may just be the spark that the Monarchs needed after getting off to a dismal 0-3 start that included losses to Liberty, FIU and Charlotte.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies open ACC play next Saturday when they take on Duke in Durham, North Carolina.
ODU: The Monarchs travel to East Carolina.