Sunday Hokies column: Defenders might want to share in the blame, but offense shouldn’t let them
Final: Duke 13, Virginia Tech 10. Hokies hold the Devils to 198 total yards, force four turnovers…and fall.
Duke picks up a first down at the Tech 41. Hokies are out of timeouts, clock ticking under 3 minutes. Devils lead 13-10.
Duke gets its fourth interception of the game, has possession near midfield with less than 4 minutes left, leading Tech 13-10. Teams have combined for eight interceptions.
Hokies force a punt with 5:15 left, trailing 13-10.
Cody Journell hooks a 40-yard field goal attempt wide left. Hokies still trail 13-10 with 6:02 left.
Kendall Fuller has set a Tech record with his third interception of the game.
The Hokies trail 13-7 — the same six-point deficit they faced at halftime — but a bleak situation has brightened. The crowd is finally into it after Tech went 99 yards in six plays to cut into Duke’s 13-0 lead, with Thomas scoring on a 5-yard run with 11 seconds left in the period.
With that play, Thomas set a school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (24).
The key play on that drive — and the key moment of the game, should Tech come back to win this — came on the first play. Tech was backed up on its own 1 yard line after officials reversed a call on the field that Duke’s punt had gone in the end zone.
Frank Beamer was steamed. The crowd was surly. But then Thomas threw a deep pass down the left sideline to Demitri Knowles, who had streaked past Duke defender Garrett Patterson.
Knowles juggled the ball but maintained possession, gaining 56 yards into Duke territory.
The Blue Devils had dominated the period before that, adding to their lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Boone that followed a pair of coverage penalties on the Hokies.
Another tight finish coming up. Imagine that.
The Hokies go to the locker room trailing 6-0 after a phlegmatic offensive performance.
Duke had two field goals of longer than 50 yards in the quarter, while Tech missed its only attempt.
Tech had several chances to score in the second quarter. They couldn’t punch it in on a second-and-goal from the 1, going nowhere on a running play, then getting backed up by a penalty and seeing Thomas throw his second interception of the game.
With about a minute left in the half, Cody Journell clanged a 45-yard field goal attempt off the left upright.
There doesn’t seem to be any panic or deep concern (although clearly some frustration) in this Lane Stadium crowd — perhaps because we’ve seen Tech win these types of games so often.
Still, Duke quarterback Anthony Boone got markedly better in the second half of that UVa game last week, and a repeat performance would mean big trouble for Tech. The Blue Devils have gotten several receivers open on deep patterns only to see Boone overthrow them. Tech is playing without two starting corners (Brandon Facyson and Kyle Fuller) and its sack leader (defensive end J.R. Collins).
Duke is 70th in the nation in rushing defense, and although Tech does have two players who averaged more than 4 yards per attempt (Thomas and Edmunds) in the half, the inability to plow a hole on the goal line is the difference between them leading right now and trailing.
Thomas is 9-for-18 for 82 yards and two picks, but he’s the leading rusher with 45 yards on 10 carries. You might see the Hokies go to their cold-weather offense that they used in last year’s UVa game, where they just had Thomas barrel down the field with one run after another. Not an aesthetically pleasing approach, but it can’t be much uglier than what they’ve been doing thus far.
Tech gets the ball to start the second half.
We’re scoreless after one, and Duke has the ball near midfield.
The only real story so far has been interceptions, including two by Tech freshman Kendall Fuller. Logan Thomas’ streak of 116 passes without a pick was broken on an airmailed pass intended for a wide-open Josh Stanford. Garrett Patterson got the easy interception for Duke, but the Blue Devils couldn’t turn it into points.
Definitely thought we’d see some scoring by this point. The Hokies have averaged 2.9 yards on their 10 rushing attempts, so hopes that this element of their game would get untracked haven’t been realized yet.
DU—FG Martin 51, 12:27. Drive: Five plays, 22 yards, 1:14. Key play: Duncan 19 run to VT 36. Duke 3, Virginia Tech 0.
DU–FG Martin 53, :00. Drive: Seven plays, 37 yards, :42. Key play: Deaver 16 pass from Boone to VT 43. Duke 6, Virginia Tech 0.
DU–Boone 9 run (Martin kick), 6:14. Drive: Six plays, 63 yards, 3:10. Key play: Tyler 15 pass interference penalty to VT 36. Duke 13, Virginia Tech 0.
VT–Thomas 5 run (Journell kick), :11. Drive: Six plays, 99 yards, 2:47. Key play: Knowles 56 pass from Thomas to DU 43. Duke 13, Virginia Tech 7.
VT–FG Journell 42, 9:23. Drive: 10 plays, 31 yards, 4:43. Key play: Thomas 1 run on fourth-and-1 to DU 46. Duke 13, Virginia Tech 10.
Duke, Helton 6-13-0, Brown 4-10-0, Edward 5-7-0, Foxx 0-9-0, Singleton 3-3-0, Cash 1-5-0, Anunike 1-4-0, Wray 2-2-0, Thompson 2-1-0, Fields 2-1-0, Wolf 2-1-0, Sarmiento 1-2-0, Borders 0-3-0, France 2-0-0, Brown 1-1-0, Patterson 1-1-0, Johnson 0-2-0, Bruce 0-2-0, Cockrell 0-2-0, Woodruff 0-1-0, Westray 0-1-0, DeWalt-Ondijo 0-1-0, Totals 33-72-0.
Virginia Tech, Maddy 2-6-1, Nicolas 4-2-0, Tyler 2-4-0, Edwards 3-2-0, Gayle 0-4-0, Fuller 3-0-0, Clark 0-3-0, Bonner 2-0-0, Hopkins 0-2-0, Exum 1-0-0, Edmunds 1-0-0, Coles 1-0-0, Dyer 1-0-0, Wilson 0-1-0, Jarrett 0-1-0, Trimble 0-1-0, Totals 20-26-1.
Kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Drop by and share your thoughts and ruminations. Also, check out today’s column and NASCAR up-and-comer Kyle Larson. I’ll be at the track all day Sunday and will have an in-race blog from the Cup event. Can’t wait to whip out my camera in the midway manana.