NORFOLK, Va. – 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.
It was the Hokies' first game at the cross-state school that restarted its football program in 2009.
LaRussa, who entered the game on Old Dominion's second series, completed 30 of 49 passes and rushed for a touchdown to lead the 28½-point underdog Monarchs (1-3) to a stunning victory over the Hokies (2-1) from the Atlantic Coast Conference. ODU's three losses came against Liberty, Florida International and Charlotte.
Jeremy Cox's 40-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 34 seconds remaining sealed the biggest win in program history. After the game, the Monarchs faithful stormed the field.
The Hokies (2-1) — coming off an unscheduled open week courtesy of Hurricane Florence, which forced last Saturday's cancellation of a game against East Carolina — led 28-21 after a 72-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jackson to Damon Hazelton with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, but Old Dominion 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 because of 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 score at 35-35.
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 proved to be the 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.
The Monarchs 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).