Image: LU Athletics Facebook

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) – Jalen Holston rushed for 99 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and Virginia Tech snapped a seven-game losing streak by surprising Liberty 23-22 on Saturday.

The Hokies’ defense, maligned during the lengthy losing skid, came up with two big stops in the final minutes to preserve the one-point lead. They forced an incomplete pass by Liberty quarterback Kaidon Salter to get the ball back near midfield, then forced Johnathan Bennett to lose a fumble on the Flames’ next possession.

Holston picked up a key first down that allowed the Hokies (3-8) to salt the final minute away. Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells completed 14 of 20 passes for 148 yards. Liberty (8-3) rotated two quarterbacks – Bennett and Salter – with mixed results. Bennett led the only offensive touchdown drive on his 15-yard touchdown run, and Salter threw for 119 yards on 12-of-18 passing.

Holston’s second touchdown run gave the Hokies a 17-7 lead that lasted for 14 seconds. Shedro Louis, playing one week after attending his father’s funeral in Immokalee, Florida, returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Nick Brown converted on a 47-yard field goal before halftime to tie the game at 17. Holston converted on his third rushing touchdown with 7:46 remaining that gave the Hokies the game-winning score.

Virginia Tech: Wraps up the regular season Saturday against Virginia in Blacksburg.

Liberty: Completes a two-game homestand with its regular-season finale Saturday against New Mexico State. Both teams are joining Conference USA in 2023.