It wasn't perfect; it wasn't always pretty, but the Virginia Tech Hokies opened the 2023 college football season with a 36-17 win over the Old Dominion Monarchs.
The Hokies' new-look offense took the field first, and the drive ended much like many of last season's drives: Three-and-out after a Grant Wells incompletion.
Virginia Tech's first score came on a safety. Wells went to work, finding wide receiver Jaylin Lane for a 20-yard touchdown pass to give the Hokies a 9-0 lead. However, ODU answered with an impressive 12-play, 83-yard drive to make it a 9-7 game.
Wells had the answer, finding wide receiver Ali Jennings for a 10-yard touchdown reception. ODU would kick a field goal before halftime.
Tech’s defense forced multiple turnovers in the second half, and the offense took advantage. On Old Dominion’s first drive, cornerback Derrick Canteen forced a fumble. Wells made them pay with a beautiful pass to wide receiver Ali Jennings for a touchdown.
However, the Monarchs wouldn’t go away. ODU quarterback Grant Wilson hurt the Hokies with his legs and led another impressive drive, finding running back Keshawn Wicks for a five-yard touchdown.
But Wells always had an answer, finding Jennings for another touchdown. He later just missed Jennings for what would’ve been their third scoring hookup of the game. Wells completed passes to nine different receivers, with all three transfers [Jennings, Lane and Da’Quan Felton] all having big plays. The three newcomers combined for 10 receptions, 175 yards and three touchdowns.
Wells completed 17 of 29 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns. He also rushed for a score. Wells wasn’t perfect, as he just missed two more scores, one to Jennings and one to running back Bhayshul Tuten in the first quarter.
One area of concern was Tech’s run defense. The Hokies allowed ODU to rush for 201 yards, with 81 coming from Wilson. Head coach Brent Pry will be focusing on that heading into next week's game against Purdue.
Regardless, a fun night in Blacksburg ends with a Hokie victory and a measure of revenge.