Virginia Tech gave up a late deep bomb for a touchdown against prevent defense and lost to Cincinnati 27-24 on Saturday in Washington, DC. Tech is now 3-2 on the season, while the Bearcats improved to 3-0.
This was a tale of two halves for the Hokies – for both the offense and defense. The offense was terrible in the first half, but moved the ball efficiently for the last 30 minutes. The defense kept Tech in it for the first 30 minutes, but surrendered too many big plays over the final 2 quarters.
In the first half, the Tech offense didn’t pick up a first down until there was approximately 5 minutes on the clock in the second quarter. They eventually scored a touchdown – their second first down of the first half – on a read option run by Logan Thomas after the Tech defense forced a turnover. Bruce Taylor deflected a pass that was intercepted by Kris Harley, which set up Tech’s only score of the first half. The Hokies led 7-6 at halftime, but it was clear that this was going to be a battle until the very end.
Despite only recording two first downs in the first half, the Tech offense put up 402 yards for the game. However, they were still their own worst enemy in the second half. A bad high throw by Logan Thomas deflected off the fingers of Randall Dunn inside the five yard line, and turned a sure touchdown into an interception for Cincinnati. Another high throw by Thomas on a third down play took away a big play by Marcus Davis, and resulted in a punt.
After the first half, the Hokies ran the football effectively…
Michael Holmes: 11 carries for 60 yards and 1 touchdown
Dyrell Roberts: 5 carries for 51 yards
J.C. Coleman: 7 carries for 32 yards
However, it took the Hokies two full quarters to make offensive adjustments, and their only score of the first half was off an interception deep in Cincinnati territory.
The second half was a different story. Kyle Fuller didn’t play at field corner for the first drive of the second half because of what I assume is still an injured shoulder. Cincinnati went right after his replacement – true freshman corner Donaldven Manning. Manning surrendered three big plays, including a 29 yard touchdown pass. After that drive, Fuller returned to the game, injured arm and all.
Tech later gave up a 76 yard wheel route for a touchdown to backup tailback R.D. Abernathy. Tech called a zone blitz on the play, but one of the boundary side defenders did not drop out into pass coverage, which resulted in a wide open pass to Abernathy. He only had to beat one defender in the open field, and took it all the way for a touchdown. This was one of Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux’s big plays of the day. He completed only 19-of-42 passes, but he had 376 yards, including three touchdowns.
Even with that bad start to the second half, Logan Thomas hit Corey Fuller on a 56 yard touchdown on a deep crossing route to give the Hokies a 24-20 lead with just 1:49 left. It was all on the Tech defense at that point, and unfortunately their best defensive player made a critical mistake.
Kyle Fuller committed the sin of all sins for a defensive back: he let Cincinnati wide receiver Damon Julian get behind him in prevent defense and surrendered a 39 yard touchdown pass with just 13 seconds remaining in the game. At that point the Tech offense had no chance to move down the field and score, and the final hail mary of the game by Logan Thomas was deflected and intercepted.
We’ll have much more on this game in the upcoming week.