The Hokies won their 15th in a row in the series and kept alive their hopes for a 26th consecutive bowl appearance.
Virginia Tech (5-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) tied the game on a fumble that went into the end zone, through the hands of a Cavaliers defender and was covered by Hezekiah Grimsley with 1:51 remaining. They won it when, after Johnson’s field goal made it 34-31 in the first overtime, the Cavaliers botched a handoff from Bryce Perkins to Jordan Ellis at the Hokies’ 14 and Emmanual Belmar recovered.
That set off a wild celebration as the Hokies’ signature “Enter Sandman” entrance song rang out through Lane Stadium with fans who braved sub-zero wild chills from the start sang along celebrating the most unlikely victory by either team in the 100th installment of the rivalry.
The Cavaliers (7-5, 4-4) trailed 14-0 at halftime but scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half. They went ahead with 6:51 to play when Perkins hit Hasise Dubois for 29 yards. A 28-yard field goal by Brian Delaney made it 31-24 with 2:41 left.
But the Hokies weren’t finished.
Facing third-and-10 from their 25, Ryan Willis scrambled and fired deep downfield to Dalton Keene, who wrestled the ball away from Virginia’s best cornerback, Bryce Hall, at the Cavaliers’ 30-yard line for a 45-yard gain.
Willis then hit Tre Turner for 11 yards and Steven Peoples burst through the line on the next play but was stripped by Joey Blount at the goal line. The ball squirted into the end zone where Cavaliers backup safety Brenton Nelson had it pop into his arms, but he couldn’t hold on and Grimsley recovered for the Hokies’ touchdown.
The win snapped a four-game home losing streak for the Hokies and was Virginia’s second straight loss in overtime.
The end of the first half featured gamesmanship on both sides after Virginia Tech scored on a blocked punt return.
The Cavaliers took over at their 29 and Virginia Tech burned its timeouts before Virginia punted with 1:22 left after a three-and-out.
The Hokies ran three running plays and Virginia used its two remaining timeouts. Facing fourth-and-1, the Hokies punted and Chuck Davis, attempting a fair catch, muffed it and Rashard Ashby recovered for the Hokies with eight seconds left in the half, giving Virginia Tech a chance to try for another score.
Willis threw toward Grimsley, but Tim Harris intercepted for Virginia. Harris raced down the sideline toward the end zone but Willis chased him down and tackled him at the 10.