Editor's Note: Thank you to new contributor Terry for a glimpse into VT Football of yesteryear, when games vs William & Mary featured more prominently on the schedule.
As fall finally approaches, the smell of Turkey Legs fill our noses; the sound of Enter Sandman blasts in our ears, and taste of cold alcoholic beverages fill our taste buds; we find ourselves on the brink of yet another exciting season in Blacksburg (or at least we hope it's exciting). This Saturday the Hokies will open their season with an opponent who is both familiar, yet not as familiar as other teams on the schedule. Of course I speak of William and Mary. Another institution located here in the Commonwealth. At first glance for most of the younger generation of Hokies, William & Mary is an FCS school that VT rarely sees, but look deeper and you see a old school contest that dates back to October 22, 1904.
The Series between VT and W&M sits at 40-18-4 with Virginia Tech holding the series edge. At home against William & Mary, VT is 20-6-1; Away they're 7-6; and at a neutral site, their record is 13-6-3. As stated before this series dates back to 1904 when the Hokies defeated the Tribe 30-0 in its first ever meeting in Blacksburg. VT dominated the first 14 games going 12-0-2 until they lost their first game of the series on October 9, 1937. The schools met annually every year from 1929 to 1985 (with the exception being in 1943 and 1944 during World War II). During that stretch Tech went 28-18-4.
Believe it or not VT didn't play W&M in Williamsburg until 1946 where they lost 49-0, part of a 12 game losing streak to the Tribe that lasted from 1940 to 1953 (with the aforementioned two year WWII gap). Most games from 1929 to 1941 were played in Richmond Va., and for that matter VT didn't host the Tribe from 1929 until 1942 when VT lost 21-7. VT has played W&M 17 times in Richmond total, the last time being on October 8, 1977 with VT getting a 17-8 win. Other neutral site games were played in Roanoke (four times) and Norfolk (once).
The Hokies have only played William & Mary once during the Frank Beamer era and that was a 44-3 win by the 17th ranked Hokies in 2007. The game is also one of only two meetings in which one of the teams was ranked in the top 25 (The other being a 7-7 tie in Blacksburg on October 30th 1954, VT was ranked 14th).
Now even though VT and W&M haven't played each other on regular basis since '85, that doesn't mean that Frank Beamer and Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock don't know each other. In fact, both coached together under Bobby Ross at the Citadel back in 1973-1974, so both are very familiar with each other. Laycock has coached against VT seven times (1980-1985, 2007) and lost every game he's coached against the Hokies. His closest taste of victory was his first year in 1980 when he lost 7-3 in Lane Stadium.
As I did some research and digging into the VT/W&M series (and I do mean digging, I had to pull some old VT history books out of storage from my college days, not fun trying to open rusted garage doors), I found something special that if it hasn't been shared already, had to be now. It's just that perfect.
We all know that this season marks the 50th anniversary of Lane Stadium, and with so many great memories found within Lane's hallowed grounds, the first game ever played there was against none other than William & Mary.
October 2nd, 1965.
It was the first game in the newly built Lane Stadium. According to Virginia Tech Football Vault (great read if you can find it, highly recommend it), The project to build her cost around 3 million dollars and the spearheading of the fundraising was done by Edward H. Lane, VT alumnus and former board of visitors member. Because of his efforts, Lane Stadium is named after him today.
15,000 gathered in the stadium in the West stands, the center section of the east stands, and press tower (construction was partially done at the time) to watch a spirited game as VT, coached by VT hall of famer Jerry Claiborne fell behind to the Tribe 7-3 but in the final minute quarterback Bobby Owens would give VT the go-ahead TD by keeping the ball and diving in the endzone to give VT the win 9-7.
Since that time we've seen quite a few miraculous moments in Lane. The first win against Miami when the goal post came down in 1995; The defeat of Boston College in 1999 that capped the undefeated season as they carried Frank Beamer off the field; Tyrod Taylor's last minute heroics against Nebraska, etc. But it all started in 1965 with a contest against an opposing school from the Commonwealth. How poetically justified it is that on her 50th anniversary that the first team that played VT here is back again to usher her in for this season.