Turnovers and penalties lead to another VT home loss

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What a difference two weeks can make.

Fourteen days after beating Ohio State on the road in one of the biggest wins in program history and earning a top-20 national ranking, Virginia Tech has dropped to 2-2 and 0-1 in the ACC after a pair of losses.

The latest, a 27-24 loss to Georgia Tech in the conference opener for both teams, came after the Hokies led for most of the game.

After allowing a touchdown with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter to tie the score  at 24, Virginia Tech’s defense was forced right back on the field after quarterback Michael Brewer threw his third interception of the game on the first play of the potential game-winning drive.

Georgia Tech (4-0, 1-0 ACC) quarterback Justin Thomas ran for 20 yards and threw for 19 more as the Yellow Jackets worked inside the Hokies’ five yard line. Harrison Butker made good on a 24-yard attempt as time expired.

The Hokies have lost four consecutive home games against FBS (formally Division 1-A) opponents for the first time since 1978-79.

“I just told the guys we’re just not playing Virginia Tech football right now,” Hokies head coach Frank Beamer said. “We’re not doing the things we know how to do, have done, should do. I don’t think it’s effort by any stretch of the imagination. We have to do some things and so forth. We’ve got to look at how we do things and so forth. And then we got to step up and make plays when we need to.”

Brewer’s three interceptions led to 17 of Georgia Tech’s 27 points.

“We got the ball back with a little over two minutes left. We had an opportunity to go down and win the football game,” Brewer, who has eight interceptions and seven touchdowns on the year, said. “The corner baited me into throwing the corner route. He dropped underneath it. That was a pretty critical point of the game. We don’t throw that interception and we have a chance to drive it down there and win it.”

For much of the game, Brewer was successful and in-sync with his receiving corps. He finished 28-for-39 for 297 yards, but also had those three interceptions. Now, one of the foremost qualities that won him the starting job in fall practice – the infrequency in which he turns the ball over – may have put his job in question.

While Beamer sidestepped a question about whether there is a quarterback controversy on the horizon, he admitted the situation and many others deserve another look.

“I think you look at the whole situation about where we are as a football team,” Beamer said. “There are a few things we need to look at as far as how we do things offensively, defensively, special teams.”

Justin Thomas ran for 54 of his 165 rushing yards on the game’s opening drive, but the Yellow Jackets were forced to settle for a Harrison Butker 43-yard field goal just the three-point lead.

The Hokies matched the Yellow Jackets’ field goal drive halfway through the first quarter, added three more points in the opening seconds of the second quarter and then put together a 10-play, 63 yard touchdown drive capped off by a Marshawn Williams 6-yard run.  At that point it was 13-3 Hokies, and things looked good for the home team.

Georgia Tech cut the lead to 13-10 with a touchdown however, and the Michael Brewer led the Hokies on a two-minute drive that resulted in a last second field goal before halftime. Leading 16-10 early in the second half, the Hokies missed a prime opportunity to extend their lead.

Georgia Tech’s first offensive drive of the second half ended in disaster after a errant backward pitch from Thomas was recovered by the Hokies on the Yellow Jacket 10-yard line.

However, a run for no gain, a substitution infraction (one of four against the Hokies), two incomplete passes and a blocked field goal left the lead at six points.

“Obviously that’s frustrating, any time you go down there and don’t come away with points,” Brewer said. “We got to get better protecting the football and minimize penalties.”

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with the score still 16-10 in Virginia Tech’s favor, Brewer threw his second interception of the game. This one, caught by Yellow Jacket’s linebacker Paul Davis, was returned 41 yards to the end zone and put Georgia Tech ahead by one point.

On the very next drive though, lady luck was wearing orange and maroon. With the Hokies well into Georgia Tech territory, running back Marshawn Williams fumbled on a first-and-10 carry. Despite several diving efforts by players on both teams to come up with it, the football squirted away from every corralling effort.

Brewer, trailing the play, saw the ball bounce into his hands, and never breaking stride, carried it the rest of the way for the five-point lead.   He then threw a jump ball to tight end Bucky Hodges to convert on the two-point attempt and put Tech ahead by seven, 24-17.

But then, for the second straight week, Virginia Tech’s defensive backfield failed to slow the opponent’s air attack.

Six-foot-three DeAndre Smelter had four catches for 82 yards in the fourth quarter, including three for 64 yards on the game tying drive. The biggest came on fourth-and-15 when Smelter was wide open in the middle of the field and absorbed a Chuck Clark blow as he caught the ball to move the chains. Two plays later Smelter ran by defensive back Donovan Riley for a 31-yard score.

“I think we came out just as hard as we did against Ohio State,” cornerback Kendall Fuller said. “We treat every game the same. We treat every practice the same. We all come out and work hard. It’s just some days just don’t go your way. It’s those little things that you got to get better at.”

For the second time in two weeks, Brewer tried to orchestrate a heroic late fourth quarter drive – last week’s was successful, but the defense allowed a touchdown with just over a minute left. This time, it only lasted one play.

“You see (Brewer) making some great plays, some heady plays, intuitive plays, just all the kind of plays on third down,” receiver Willie Byrn said. “We know what kind of guy he is, and we know that it means a lot to him. The few mistakes he’s had, he’s in a position where it is highlighted a lot more than our mistakes. I had a few mistakes and y’all didn’t see it and it’s not as evaluated. He had a few, but everyone did. We have all the confidence in the world in him.”

After getting inside the five-yard line, Thomas moved the ball to the middle of the field and fell over to make the ensuing attempt even easier for Butker. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Butker drilled his second field goal of the game, and the Yellow Jackets won 27-24.

“At the end of the day we lost. At the end of the day it’s our second straight loss, and it’s going to be dealt with this week,” Byrn said.

“We knew what ECU was capable of and we watched them do what they were capable of. We knew what Georgia Tech was capable of and we watched the same exact thing. It’s just a matter of execution all the time,” Byrn said. “It can’t just be when you’re going to Columbus. It doesn’t matter if there are 100,000 people in the stands or if there are 3.

“We’ve got something to prove now. And I think that was kind of the mentality we had against Ohio State. We have something to prove. When you play like that, when you play with a chip on your shoulder you can prove people wrong.”

The Hokies return to action next Saturday when they host Western Michigan.  Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30pm, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network.

Postgame notes, courtesy VT Athletics Communications

• The Hokies had not lost home football games in back-to-back weeks since falling to Boston College and Cincinnati to start 1995 season before losing to East Carolina and now Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks.

• Woody Baron made his first collegiate start, coming in place of Corey Marshall (ankle) at defensive tackle. To combat the Georgia Tech offense, Kyshoen Jarrett slid to the whip linebacker spot and Donovan Riley started at rover. Chuck Clark got the start at cornerback alongside Kendall Fuller. For Riley, it was his first career start.

• True freshman Cam Phillips made his second collegiate start against Georgia Tech, but the first alongside true freshman Isaiah Ford. The last time Virginia Tech started two true freshman wide receivers in a game was in 2008 at North Carolina when Jarrett Boykin and Dyrell Roberts both started in the 20-17 win. In 2004, true freshmen Eddie Royal and Joshua Morgan started at No. 9 Miami. The Hokies won that game 16-10 to clinch the ACC title. Both Royal (San Diego) and Morgan (Chicago) are still playing in the NFL.

• Today was the 1,200th game in Virginia Tech football history.

• With the field goal in the first quarter, Virginia Tech has now scored in 247 straight games, extending its school and ACC record. The streak is the 11th-longest streak in FBS history and the fifth-longest active streak in the FBS.

• Joey Slye’s 42-yard field goal is a career long for the true freshman. He had three field goals in the game, a career high.

• Marshawn Williams scored his second touchdown of the season in the second quarter.

• Isaiah Ford became the first Tech player to hit the 100-yard plateau in receiving yards this year with his career-high 114 yards on a career-high eight catches.

• Eleven of the first 15 touchdowns on the season have been scored by freshmen (12 of 15 by underclassmen).

• Linebacker Chase Williams career-high 17 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

• Willie Byrn tied his career high with seven receptions.

• Virginia Tech’s last two-point conversion came in 2012 at North Carolina when Logan Thomas connected with Corey Fuller. The Hokies converted one today when Michael Brewer hit Bucky Hodges for two points.

• Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas finished with 165 yards rushing. The last QB to run for 100 yards or more against Tech’s defense was UCLA’s Brett Hundley (161) in last year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl. Hundley was also the last opposing quarterback to run and pass for 100 yards or more against the Hokies.

• Virginia Tech has lost its last four home games against FBS opponents dating back to last year (Duke, Maryland, East Carolina and Georgia Tech). The Hokies beat FCS squad William & Mary to open this season.

• The last time Virginia Tech lost on the final play of the game came in the 2012 Sugar Bowl when Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons connected on a 37-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.

• Virginia Tech is now 19-4 in home conference openers under Frank Beamer.

• The loss is just Virginia Tech’s fifth in 27 home ACC Coastal Division games (22-5).

Box Score (HokieSports.com)

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45 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. 2 things cost us this game in the 4th quarter. Not stopping them on 4 and 15 and Bonner not making the interception that hit in the hands, either of these 2 plays happen and we win the game and everyone is happy.

  2. Not that it helps, but I suspect that Georgia Tech ends up being an top 20 team, and ECU may end up a top 10 team.

    1. HA!! GT a top 20 team?!? Are you kidding me? Just accept the fact that the Hokies aren’t very good this year. That’s what’s so sad about a of this.

      1. Yeah GT’s big wins over FCS Wofford 38-19 @ home; (1-2; just lost to Gardner Webb; only win @ home against North Greenville University…but I guess they could redeem themselves next week at home against The University of Virginia’s College at Wise lol); Tulane 38-21(1-3; only win against FCS Southeastern Louisiana, 35-20; lost 47-13 against Duke yesterday); and a lucky win against Georgia Southern 42-38. Georgia Tech isn’t a very good team.

  3. We start 4 stud freshmen on offense. We knew it would be up and down year. Stop firing everyone and starting from scratch. How many years do you think it would take to get back to beating a big time program at there house?
    Enjoy the bumpy ride, those 4 freshman are going to some of the best we’ve seen, and pray they against UVA the way they played in Columbus.

    1. I’m not sure the freshman are the problem. Imo they are playing great, and we would definitely be 1-3 right now without them. Certainly no W @OSU, and the last two losses wouldn’t have been by such a close margin.

  4. Lest we forget that yet another special-teams miscue came into play here. That sadly IS defining of Virginia Tech football these days.

    1. I can not agree more! We get beat so many times with breakdowns on our ‘Special Needs” team. It is a train wreck. Yesterday we never made an attempt to block a punt or kick. We get a kick blocked (easily could have been2 or 3) and we have a stupid block in the back penalty on our best return of the day. A penalty that was not even close to the action. Who is no. 81? Frank needs to let someone else coach this. Also, why, why, why do we continue to have 4-5 running backs? Frank says ‘people are going to get real tired of tackling those two’. Frank, it is not hard to get tired if you play them every other series. Jeez, stick with 2 and ram it down their throats.

  5. The beginning of this article possibly reflects the mindset of this year’s team and coaches……..still talking about Ohio State.

    1. The last two losses are not about the OSU win. We lost because we played two very good teams whose talent, discipline, and execution exceeded ours.

      1. I agree for ECU. GT is not a good team; we lost because of very bad INTs and very bad penalties that called back some good plays.

    1. O line is beyond bad! Agree this is most pressing issue we need to solve, but doesn’t appear that fix will be anytime soon! We have 2 very good RBs in Marshawn and Shai, but they rarely have any decent blocking to get into a rhythm! We’ve had this problem for 3 years now. (remember how much we struggled on goal line vs. Michigan in Sugar Bowl even with David Wilson?). Teams have no worries about defending our running game and we become one dimensional very quickly. At this point, why not give some of the 2nd string O-line opportunity at starting? Illegal substitution penalties are inexcusable after having so many last week! Perhaps timing for Western Michigan is good, opportunity to regroup and get some 2nd stringer O-line players some experience!

      1. HA!! The way Tech is playing now no game is a given. It’s not like the Hokies steamrolled Wm & Mary. And Western Michigan is better.

  6. Offensively poor offensive line play means no holes for running game and Brewer has 1 second to get rid of the ball on every freaking pass play. We can’t hang these losses on him or the RBs. Why do you think Lefty calls for 30 to 40 passes per game? He KNOWS we will never run with this line…. Unfortunately so do our opponents.

    Hey remember when we used to count how many games in a row our leading rusher broke 100 yards!? That won’t happen again until we start getting some serious O line recruits. Until our staff learns that good players like to play with great linemen, we will never get out of this hole. Misses at O line have cost us in recruiting other positions as well.

  7. I agree with the comment how did we beat OSU? We lost this game, jackets did not win it. I can’t help but wonder what Logan Thomas is thinking.

  8. Everyone needs to RELAX! This is college football. Boston College(452 yards rushing!!!!) beat USC after they beat Stanford. LSU just lost at home to Miss. State. Missouri lost at home to Indiana. Look at what ECU just did to UNC. Georgia destroyed Clemson by running all over them & FSU can’t run for 1 yard with one of the best OL in all of college football. We could have and probably should have won both of those games. It is hard to win games in college football. Quit blaming and support the HOKIES. They did not lay down in either game and took each game to the FINAL play. We have a Hall of Fame coach and defensive coordinator who have built the program to levels beyond what should have been possible. Be grateful that we expect 10-11 wins a year. GO HOKIES!

    1. Amen. Enjoy the game, and realize that across-the-board parity in college football has made it one of the most entertaining competitive events on earth.

  9. There appears to be zero accountability top to bottom, no toughness, and no resemblance to how V T used to play football. Why have we forgotten how to intercept a pass or play pass defense. Something continues to be badly wrong. We can’t even get on the field properly.

    Offense… What the heck is that? If there is a game plan, I can’t see it. We have to gain ten yards or more third down after third down… and sometimes do.

    Clemson is playing FSU. V T doesn’t belong on the same field as either of the teams I am watching. If you have a major recruiting weekend, then play like you care.

    Penalties can be corrected. You get a penalty, you run and you run and you run… And the entire team runs with you.

    1. We can’t intercept a pass because I was told when I questioned why our db’s don’t turn their heads to locate the ball, that since their in man coverage they watch the receivers eyes and knock the ball away when it gets there…….what crock of crap, how can you watch a players eyes when you’re 5 and 10 yard away from him. Please everyone stop it with this DBU crap. I’m sure Toliver and Alexander couldnt wait to board their plane back to Fla. Thank goodness Josh Sweat wasn’t there but I’m sure he watched the debacle on TV!

  10. think the hokies need to start at the top and clean house . On the offensive side of the ball there is no blocking and the running backs are not getting any holes to run through. and in the passing game Brewer not had a lot of time to find the open recievers .Without any blocking its hard for the offense to move the ball and score. The defence is just not playing a complete game at times they look good then other times they look like they don’t know what to do.But the biggest problem is the hokies has forgotten how to play Beamer ball.

  11. We are suffering from recruiting losses right now. The current problems (especially the OL) will not get fixed quickly. My biggest concern is that the VT football brand is just not interesting to the best players these days. It seems like the current group of coaches have things going in the right direction, but I am not optimistic that VT will get back to national relevancy any time soon. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the overall downward arch of the program will change until we have a new head coach that can create a new culture.

    1. It’s ashamed when FCS schools recruit better olinemen than we do. I may be the only one and May get blasted for saying it but when will Stacey Serales (sp ) hire start to pay dividends because I don’t recall any OL knocking down the door yet!

  12. If we don’t get it together quick 4 wins is all we will see this season!! And another thing, Scott “F-ing” Loeffler needs to commit to the run and he needs to overrule Shane Beamer and keep JC Coleman on the sidelines!! He is NOT a Division I running back….. I don’t care how good of an ambassador for the football program he is!!

      1. No it’s not…when Sam Rogers is in offset I as lead blocker, we were getting 4-8 yd chunks, sometimes more. We can’t run from our pass formations and we can’t pass from our strongest run formation (the I), so that’s the problem…the D knows exactly what’s coming

    1. Couldn’t agree more. The entire East Stands groaned when Loeffler put JC in after the GT turnover, and the expected result was no gain. Our best back is Shai with Williams a close second. But, committing to the run means additional use of fullback leads, mis-direction and using tight ends in motion. It’s in Loefler’s playbook and see signs of it, but, the execution and sticking to it is lacking.

      All that said, the offense is just doing stupid things to kill drives which is an indication of poor preparation and a lack of concentration. This was the worst full team break-down of the Hokies I’ve seen since 98.

  13. Let’s face it, we are a good football team only when things break right for us. I think the best team won last week and this week. Our talent level is no better than OSU, ECU, or GT. When you give up three interceptions and commit … what was it FIVE substitution penalties … you can’t expect great things. Discipline is lacking at the coaching level and the players level. When Coach Beamer said, “We have to do some things and so forth,” I assume he will focus on how to substitute w/o incurring FIVE penalties. The D continues to disappoint. On the first two plays of the game, our left end (Dadi wasn’t that you) completely lost contain! There were several complete breakdowns in the secondary with receivers 10 yards beyond the defenders.

    I feel sorry for Michael Brewer. He has gone from hero to zero, but I am very appreciative of his effort. I’ll be there next Saturday to support the Hokies. I think we’ll have a good outcome.

  14. “Both teams traded field goals in the final minute of the first half.”…I believe GT scored a TD in the final minute after Brewer’s first int…very critical sequence of events after being up 13-3 and moving the chains…

      1. Shouldn’t happen either

        Diappointing loss no doubt but this team is getting better and more capable on O than we have been in a long time.

        Did you happen to see what ECU did to UNC? The coastal is still wide open.

        1. Where are they getting better at they lost the last two games and in terrible fashion I might add, they played good in spots against ECU but it was a terrible display today, penalties, interceptions, overthrown and under thrown balls, player not knowing if they should be on or off the field, missed assignments in the secondary, corners getting blown by as if they were standing still. I’m sorry I see regression not progression. I’m not trying to be negative, I love my Hokies but I have to see it for what it is. We may be this years UVA, beating ohio st then falling by the wayside. Honestly I don’t think we could beat UVA right now if we played them today and I’m truly embarrassed to have to admit that!

          1. At this rate every remaining game will be a struggle. UVA is playing much improved football. Tech would lose if they played UVA right now. Very discouraging…

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