WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — The next season, Luck and the Mountaineers lost 34-11 in Blacksburg during Don Nehlen's first campaign on the WVU sidelines, but WVU found revenge the next season, winning 27-6 behind 265 Luck passing yards and three touchdown throws.
"They weren't quite the power that they became under Beamer, but we weren't very good either," said Luck, who explained Tuesday, when meeting Beamer at The Greenbrier, he has great memories of those matchups. "So we were two pretty evenly-matched teams, and they were dogfights. I remember Lane Stadium being a tough place to play."
Beamer has coached against the Mountaineers so many times the games all run together, but he vividly remembers the 1999 contest when Michael Vick led the No. 3 Hokies from a 20-19 deficit in the final minutes and Shayne Graham kicked a game-winning field goal to help keep Virginia Tech undefeated. The Hokies went on to play Florida State for the national championship.
"I always tell people you have to be good, but you have to have a lot of luck, too," said Beamer. "We had a lot of luck that night to beat West Virginia."
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One of Rich Rodriguez's first big wins as the WVU coach came in his second season in 2002 when the Mountaineers upset the No. 13 Hokies 21-18 in Blacksburg on a Thursday night ESPN game. WVU won again the next year, beating No. 3 Virginia Tech 28-7 in front of a packed house for a night game at Mountaineer Field, the highest-ranked team a Mountaineer squad had beaten.
The final meeting was a 34-17 Hokie win in Morgantown in 2005, before Pat White and Steve Slaton became regular starters on that WVU team. It was the only game the Mountaineers lost that season on their way to a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia.