It was a rough day for the Hokies in El Paso. Logan Thomas was knocked out of the game, Mark Leal played poorly, and UCLA trounced Tech 42-12. The Hokies finished the season with an 8-5 record, while the Bruins finished 10-3.
In many ways, this game was similar to the Orange Bowl loss to Stanford. Tech trailed that game just 13-12 at halftime, but got outscored 27-0 in the second half by a more talented team and lost 40-12. This time the Hokies trailed 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 28-2 over the final 15 minutes by a Bruin team stocked with playmakers.
Logan Thomas was knocked out of the game with the score tied at 7 early in the second quarter on a vicious hit by UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. He lost conciousness, and though Zumwalk was flagged for roughing the passer, the career of Tech’s r-senior quarterback came to an end.
Before exiting, Thomas was just 3-of-11 passing for 46 yards. He had three carries for 49 yards, including one impressive truck job over All-Everything freshman linebacker Myles Jack.
Unfortunately backup quarterback Mark Leal did not play well. He went 12-of-25 for 130 yards, with two interceptions. He had one particularly poor play where he slung the ball right at Myles Jack while getting sacked, and Jack grabbed it out of the air and returned it for a touchdown to make the score 28-10.
The Hokies managed an early score on a J.C. Coleman touchdown run following a 37 yard pass to Kalvin Cline from Logan Thomas. However, their other two scores were UCLA-aided. A muffed punt at the UCLA 12 gave Tech a field goal, and the Bruin punter accidentally stepped out of the back of the endzone for a safety in the fourth quarter after the game was already decided.
With Trey Edmunds out, the Hokies had to get creative in the run game. Besides the Logan Thomas carries, here’s how things shook out…
Carlis Parker: 6 carries, 40 yards. The wide receiver hadn’t touched the ball all season, but he gained 40 yards on six reverses.
Jerome Wright: 7 carries, 27 yards. The true freshman hadn’t had a carry all season, but did a solid job on limited action on Tuesday.
Chris Mangus: 6 carries, 26 yards. Mangus hadn’t had a big role since early in the season.
J.C. Coleman: 9 carries, 22 yards.
Overall, the running game went a little better expected, and the Tech offensive line managed to get a little bit of a push up the middle. However, the passing game was a wreck even before Thomas got hurt. The Tech receivers struggled to get any separation. To make matters worse, Kalvin Cline hurt his knee and left the game.
Tech’s defense struggled in the first half to contain UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, one of the top playmaking quarterbacks in the nation. Hudley ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, including an 86 yard run in the first half. The Hokies contained his running in the second half (he actually had six carries for 168 yards at one point), but they couldn’t stop his passing attack in the fourth quarter.
Virginia Tech’s tackling was unusually poor (some of that has to do with UCLA…they aren’t one of the most balanced offenses in the country for no reason, folks), particularly on the perimeter. Bruin wide receivers and running backs repeatedley put a foot in the turf and juked their way out of tackle attempts by Kendall Fuller, Detrick Bonner, Kyhshoen Jarrett and others.
A 59 yard bomb from Hundley to wide receiver Shaq Evans over top of Fuller and Jarrett sealed the deal with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, both teams just ran out the clock.
We’ll have much more on this game, the season, and the future in the coming days.