Virginia Tech pounded Duke in the trenches, overcame a 20 point deficit, and ran the Blue Devils out of Blacksburg 41-20 on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies improved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the ACC with the win, while Duke dropped to 5-2 and 2-1.
This was a scary game in the first quarter for Tech. Duke hit a deep ball for a touchdown on their first possession, followed it up with two field goals, and returned an interception for a touchdown to take a 20-0 lead just over 11 minutes into the game. With the way the Hokies had played the last two weeks, the outcome seemed inevitable.
However, Tech stayed focused, hit big plays in the passing game, pounded the football in the running game, and put immense pressure on Duke quarterback Sean Renfree. After falling behind 20-0, the Hokies outscored Duke 41-0 the rest of the way. The slow start turned into the biggest comeback in Frank Beamer’s career.
J.C. Coleman became Tech’s first 100 yard rusher of the season. He finished with 183 yards on just 13 carries, and he had touchdown runs of 45 yards and 86 yards. As a team, Tech ran for 269 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry. Logan Thomas added 50 yards on 11 carries, while Tony Gregory had eight carries for 33 yards.
Thomas also had a big game through the air, going 14-of-23 for 256 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. The interception was a tough luck play, bouncing off the hands of Tony Gregory and into the arms of Jordan Byas, who returned it for a touchdown.
Marcus Davis had five receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while Dyrell Roberts added five catches for 31 yards. The tight ends also came up with big plays, with Ryan Malleck and Randall Dun combining for three catches for 78 yards.
Overall, the Hokies outgained the Blue Devils 525 to 329 in total offense.
However, the big story was Tech’s defense. Despite giving up a few big plays early, the Hokies settled down. Michael Cole and Detrick Bonner recorded interceptions, and the Tech defensive line turned things up a couple of notches. Tech held Duke to just 22 rushing yards, and the Hokies sacked Sean Renfree five times.
Luther Maddy had the best game of his career, dominating the interior line and recording two sacks. James Gayle had 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack, and ran over several offensive tackles in the process. Tyrel Wilson and Dadi Nicolas each added a sack for the Hokies, and the Tech defense forced four total turnovers. The Tech defense also hit and pressured Renfree numerous other times.
After the first quarter, this game was all Virginia Tech, and it was the best three quarters of football the Hokies have played all year. The only negative of the game was Andrew Miller’s injury. Miller suffered a fractured left ankle, and he will be reevaluated on Sunday.
Virginia Tech returns to action next Saturday when they travel to Death Valley to take on Clemson. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.