Hokies win 24-20 thriller, extend streak to 11

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Blacksburg, VA — Bucky Hodges scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:48 left, to spur the Hokies to a 24-20 win over Virginia and keep the Commonwealth Cup in Blacksburg for another year.

Down 20-17 with just 2:55 left, the Hokies took over on their own 25 and faced 75 yards of turf for the win. The Cavaliers had just shocked the Hokies, driving 89 yards in three minutes and 55 seconds, scoring on a 20-yard TD pass to Zachary Swanson to go up by three. Virginia had mustered almost nothing on offense up to that point, scoring on two field goals and an interception return, but they drove smartly down the field to go ahead, putting Virginia Tech’s 21-year bowl streak and ten-game Commonwealth Cup win streak in dire risk.

Hodges to the rescue. He had just one catch for two yards prior to the critical drive, but after Virginia committed a roughing the passer to move the ball to the Hokie 40, Michael Brewer hit Hodges in stride for a 50-yard gain, down to the Virginia ten-yard line. After a one-yard Sam Rogers run, a pass interference call on the Hoos, and a false start on Ryan Malleck, the Hokies faced first and goal from the Virginia nine.

Brewer dropped back and calmly hit Hodges, isolated in one-on-one coverage, with a slant pass for the score and the win. Hodges was wrapped up just short of the goal line, but rolled over the UVa defender and stretched for the touchdown.

“With the coverage that they rolled to at the snap,” Brewer said, “I knew Bucky was going to be one on one, and we like that matchup.”

Bucky Hodges stretches for the winning score with 1:48 left
Bucky Hodges stretches for the winning score with 1:48 left

That still left the Cavaliers with two timeouts and 1:48 to go for the win, but unlike the previous drive, the Hokie defense kept Virginia out of the end zone, turning the Cavaliers over on downs at the Hokie 44 with an eight-yard sack with four seconds left. The Hokies took a knee, and the Commonwealth Cup won’t have to travel up 81 and across 64 to Charlottesville for another year.

Late offense unusual

The two late touchdown drives were two of just three offensive scores in a game that was mostly ruled by defense and special teams. The first 23 points were non-offensive scores, and neither offense broke through until Brewer hit Cam Phillips with a 36-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in the third quarter to put VT up 17-13.

Prior to that, Virginia had field goals of 40 yards and 21 yards, set up by the only two big offensive plays they had for most of the game: a 40-yard run by Kevin Parks that set up the 40 yard field goal in the first quarter, and a 54-yard catch and run by Tiquan Mizzell that set up the 21-yard field goal in the second quarter.

For their part, the Hokies got a first-quarter 22 yard field goal from Joey Slye that capped a 15-play, 69-yard drive.

With the score 3-3 after one quarter, the Hokies scored the first touchdown on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone in the second quarter. After A.J. Hughes pinned Virginia at their one-yard line with a 38-yard punt, the Hokies defense forced a Virginia punt from the two-yard line.

Tech freshman C.J. Reavis broke through on the right side of the Virginia punt team and reached out to block the punt downward onto the turf, where Hodges covered it to make the score 10-3 with 9:30 to go in the second quarter.

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Virginia closed the gap to 10-6, then got their own breakthrough later in the quarter with an interception return from an unlikely source. With the Hokies pinned deep in their territory, Brewer dropped back on first down from the 12, and his arm was hit as he went to throw. The ball fluttered in the air to Virginia defensive tackle David Dean, who snatched it and rumbled into the end zone to make it 13-10, Cavaliers.

The score stood that way until Phillips’ 36-yard catch near the end of the third quarter that put Tech up 17-13. Both offenses sputtered much of the night, but Phillips made his catch at the end of a 7-play, 83-yard drive, Tech’s longest of the game.

That set the stage for Virginia’s late go-ahead score, and the Hokies’ response.

With the win, Tech secured their 22nd straight bowl invitation. The 6-6 (3-5 ACC) season was a struggle, but the Hokies will play on. Frank Beamer won’t have to face questions about a team failing to make a bowl game after all these years. “We’ve been to a bunch of bowls in a row,” Beamer said afterwards, “but I don’t know of a team that deserved it more than this one.”

Physical game

The game was a rough one, more physical than most VT-UVa matchups, as both teams fought for bowl eligibility. The Hokies made use of backup QB Brenden Motley more extensively than they did against Wake Forest, but Motley was first made gimpy by a bad ankle, then was knocked out of the game with concussion symptoms. He rushed eight times for 28 yards and missed on both of his pass attempts.

Brewer took a beating as usual, though he was only sacked twice. On his interception, Virginia defensive end Mike Moore swatted Brewer’s arm. Brewer went gingerly to the sideline, where he was tended to and then threw some warmup passes, wincing with each toss.

“There was a few things that were not feeling very well,” Brewer said stoically after the game.

The Hokies sacked Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert twice, the second one knocking him out of the game on Virginia’s last possession.

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Lambert was replaced by Matt Johns, whom the Hokies sacked twice on that same possession, giving Tech three of their four sacks in the last couple of minutes of the game.

Offensive highlights

J.C. Coleman continued his three-game tear, rushing 18 times for 118 yards (6.6 ypc). Coleman was only the second player to go over a hundred yards against Virginia this season (Georgia Tech’s SynJyn Days was the other), and he now has 56 carries for 311 yards (5.6 ypc) in his last three games.

“I thought that guy was a serious runner tonight,” Beamer said.

Coleman lost only two yards rushing on the night, and when he needed a break, Sam Rogers carried it eight times for 39 yards (4.9 ypc). As a team, the Hokies rushed for 198 yards on 40 carries (5.0 ypc), including two sacks that lost six yards.

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It was the second most rushing yards against Virginia this season, behind 268 yards by run-heavy Georgia Tech.

Perhaps more remarkably, the Hokies much-maligned offense gained 433 yards, the most against the Cavaliers all season.

“We thought personnel-wise, it was the second-best defense we’ve played all year,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. Loeffler has been under fire all week after Tech’s abysmal offensive performance against Wake Forest, leading to speculation that Loeffler won’t be back next year for the Hokies.

“This has probably been the hardest week of my career,” he acknowledged. “We need to get healthy and get these young guys going. We’re going in the right direction, it’s just been a struggle to get there.”

Hard fought

With so much at stake — the winner goes bowling, and the loser goes home — tensions were high. The two teams woofed at each other before the coin toss, and Corey Marshall was blunt afterwards in his feelings about Virginia:

“I would say the state of Virginia should be proud of its two teams,” Beamer said. “Tonight was a hard-played, tough, exciting, big play game with lots of guys coming through on both sides in the clutch. We feel fortunate to have won.”

Post-game notes, courtesy Virginia Tech Sports Information

• Virginia Tech wore maroon helmets, with maroon jerseys and white pants today. Tech is now 107-33 under head coach Frank Beamer in this combination.

• The weather at kickoff was 27 degrees, making tonight just the sixth game under Beamer to kick off with sub-freezing temperatures. Tech is now 5-1 all-time in these games under Beamer (5-0 at home) with the last one coming in 2012 against Virginia, a 17-14 win. The 27 degrees makes tonight the second-coldest game under Beamer. The only game colder at kickoff was the 1987 game against Cincinnati, which was 25 degrees at kick, and the Hokies won 21-20.

• Tech is now 20-14-1 all-time on Fridays, but hasn’t played a regular-season Friday game since beating Boston College at home in 1999 to clinch a spot in the national championship game. The only other time Tech and Virginia played on a Friday was in 1996, a 26-9 win for the Hokies in Blacksburg, which also came on Black Friday.

• Tech honored 15 seniors before tonight’s game: Detrick Bonner, Michael Branthover, Willie Byrn, Derek Di Nardo, Daniel Dyer, Caleb Farris, Greg Gadell, Laurence Gibson, Griffin Hite, Kyshoen Jarrett, Darius Redman, Mark Shuman, David Wang, Ross Ward and Chase Williams.

• Detrick Bonner started his 39th consecutive game tonight, the 12th-longest streak under head coach Frank Beamer for a position player.

• Joey Slye’s field goal in the first quarter extended Virginia Tech’s scoring streak to 255 games. The streak is the fifth-longest active streak in the FBS and the 11th-longest of all-time in the Division I-A/FBS history.

• With his 58 yards in the game, Isaiah Ford broke the Virginia Tech freshman record from receiving yards in a season, moving past Joshua Stanford (614, 2013) with 665 yards. He has already set the Tech freshman records for catches in a season (53). His 53 catches are the tied for the fourth-most in a season by any Tech player (Jarrett Boykin, 2010). The school record for catches in a season is 61, held by Jarrett Boykin, which he set in 2011 as a senior. The other seven Tech players to catch 50 or more passes in a season were all juniors or seniors when they accomplished the mark.

• Freshman C.J. Reavis recorded his first blocked punt of his career, which was recovered by Bucky Hodges in the end zone for a touchdown. It was the 134th blocked kick in 347 games (66th punt) under head coach Frank Beamer. The last punt block returned or recovered for a touchdown came in 2013 by Derek Di Nardo. It’s the third block of the season for the Hokies, the first punt. It was the 19th blocked punt recovered or returned for a touchdown and the 85th touchdown scored by special teams under Beamer.

• All three touchdowns tonight – and all 24 points – were scored by freshmen. Twenty-five of the Tech’s 33 touchdowns on the season have been scored by freshmen (27 of 33 by underclassmen). Freshmen have scored 230 of 280 points this year for Tech – 82.1 percent.

• Bucky Hodges had 61 yards receiving to give him 517 yards for the season, breaking the record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end under Beamer (475, Johnson, 1987). He also has seven receiving touchdowns, setting a new school record for touchdown catches in a season by a tight end, breaking a tie with Jeff King, who had six in 2005.

• Four players now have 40 receptions or more on the season (Ford, 53; Byrn, 44; Hodges, 42; and Phillips, 40). This is the first time in program history Tech has had four players with 40 or more receptions in a season. Last year, the Hokies had three players with 40 or more catches.

• Tech is now bowl eligible for the 22nd straight year, the second-longest active streak in the country.

• With its bowl trip this year, Virginia Tech will now be one of only six programs in college football history to go to a bowl in at least 22 straight years, Nebraska (35), Michigan (33), Florida State (33; active), Alabama (25), Florida (22) and Virginia Tech (22; active).

• Head coach Frank Beamer (22) is one of only four coaches all-time to lead a program to 22 or more straight bowl games, joining Bobby Bowden (Florida State, 28), Tom Osborne (Nebraska, 25) and Paul “Bear” Bryant (Alabama, 24).

— Box score (hokiesports.com) —

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— All photography by Ivan Morozov —

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53 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. 134022hokie
    Couldn’t be prouder of the team and coaches for keeping the Commonwealth Cup where it belongs. I have only one suggestion. After watching other rivalry games….the Iron Bowl, the Egg Bowl, the Governor’s Cup (Kentucky), etc., we have got to get a new trophy. In comparison to those, ours looks like a big gulp.

  2. sure has been an interesting season. but no better salve for our ills than a win over UVa!! Kept them out of a bowl to boot! Go Hokies! Way to come up big when all (including myself) were down on you!

  3. After a very rough week for all Hokies, in and out of the locker room, my hope is that we can carry this momentum into closing the deal on this recruiting class. The Hokies have a story to be told and there is not a better time than now…as we are still the class of VA! Proud of our guys, coaches and Hokie Nation today!!

  4. “We’ve come to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and we’re all out of bubble gum”! Our guys were definitely out of gum last night! Good to know we’re still tougher than them. No quit in this team. Congrats Hokies!

  5. Here’s what I want for Christmas. Name Bud Foster “Head Coach in Waiting” and then let Frank retire whenever he chooses. This sends a message to Foster, recruits, alumni and fans and gives CFB the respect he deserves and the chance to play in Bristol in ’16. And doesn’t it give our AD a win-win solution to this predicament? The win was great, but doesn’t change the gradual erosion of the program. Most of all, I think Bud deserves this.

    Chris/Will – Your thoughts?

    1. Was actually thinking this last night as well …. It does everything except solve the OC situation …..
      We appear to be getting better skilled players but need an offensive mind to make it work.

    2. Do we love Bud Foster? You bet! But I don’t buy the “Bud deserves it to be HC.” The skillset required to be a really good defensive coach is not the same as that required of a head coach. I hope that Whit will avoid the insular approach, and find a great up and comer to lead the program. I would think that most new coaches would want Bud around as the DC.

  6. After watching the Tech/Uva game for the 41st straight year, I thought it was the most intense game I have seen. Great effort Hokies!

  7. …and a hats off to the loyal, loud and jumpn’ fans who showed up for the game in the freezing cold. When they played Enter Sandman at the end of the game, I found myself jumping up and down in my living room. Great effort on everyone’s part. “Never Ring The Bell”.

    1. The look on London’s face when they played that at the end during their timeout and he was just looking into the stadium and the fans jumping around was priceless!

      1. I watched the replay of the game, when I returned home from the game, and saw that expression on his face. It was a look of I’m screwed.

  8. Last night in Lane was exciting, my throat is sore from yelling. For all those that did not show up because they gave up on the HOKIES…. you really missed a great rivalry game!
    Last night we saw some Beamerball, Budball, great fans and gutsy play with our bowl streak on the line!
    JC Colman. Corey Matshall were My MVP’s! Our coaches also did a great job!

  9. It was evident the HOKIES defense, offense and special team players were ready to play this game from the beginning, until victory was in hand at the end. It was truly a team effort, and kudos to all the HOKIE fans in attendance and supporting our team and program in extremely frigid weather. This support for our HOKIES had to be noticed by the UVA fans, players and coaching staff with envy. Thanks for the win and continuing the dominance over UVA(18 wins in 22 yrs.), and continuing the bowl streak to 22 years. GO HOKIES!

    1. I have to disagree with the “extremely frigid temperatures” bit. We dresssed sensibly and were comfortable. Temperatures in the low teens and/or in negative numbers with wind chill – That is closing in on “extremely frigid”.

  10. While there were gutsy performance on both side of the ball, some really stand out:

    Did Corey Marshall and Dadi Nicolas leave all they had on the field last might or what? Did Chase Williams show why we missed him badly for four games? If they can bring back Brandon Facyson and Luther Maddy healthy next year, they may be the best VT defense since the Moore-Engelberger days.

    If they can find three stud offensive linemen anywhere, this is a top ten team in 2015 and a playoff contender in 2016. Clark- Teller – Gallo – Smith – McLaughlin does not get us to the top 10 so Searls needs to hit the JUCO recruiting trail. Babcock has to manage Frank’s departure and Scot’s question marks but that sure ought to be easier next year after this performance. The play call on Hodges’ touchdown reception was exceptional.

    And JC? A True Hokie is relentless with no quit n his character, plays for his team and the school’s history, waits his turn and steps up when it arrives… JC’s no quit attitude before the past three games and his gritty performance during them earns him a special seat in the Hokie Nation.

    And kudos to the Hoos.. Lambert showed real cojones las night, and London actually did a decent coaching job. Their defense was good and their offense on that last drive looked unstoppable. If that right guard could stay where he belonged, we might all be singing a different tune today!

  11. Most of the post game praise went to Brewer, Hodges, and Coleman, and deservedly so. But in my opinion the real heroes of this game were the briefly mentioned Sam Rogers, CJ Reavis, and Chase Williams.

  12. With Motley out of the game and Brewer almost out, how many of you wondered who would play QB went Brewer finally went down for good?

    This was one of our more satisfying wins because I didn’t think that we had much of a chance. The whole team played their hearts out. Brewer is a WARRIOR! And the happiest guy out there after the game … Frank Beamer! And I can actually empathize with the UVA fans, who thought that this was their year.

    1. Sorry, no empathy for the Hoos here. You gotta close ’em out, and they consistently fail to do so. End of story.

  13. Great team effort and win last night. Players and coaches deserve lots of credit for a tremendous performance against all odds. The win definitely makes up for some of my “fan wounds” from a season which has been disappointing to everyone. Way to go HOKIES!!!!

  14. Was this the best performance by the O-line this year? I was very surprised 1) Tech was able to run the ball that well; 2) it wasn’t a revolving door pass rush. I really thought we’d be hearing the names ‘Harold’ and ‘Valles’ all night.

    1. I have to give it to Loeffler, rough week for him…and he dug deeper to come up with a better gameplan. Gone was the trips receivers to one side, gone was the useless side to side zone read, and we used undercenter more and playaction more, and Brewer played really well (especially after Glassman Motley was getting a lot of hype pregame and a lot of early action). Well put together gameplan for once. I would love this picture of Beamer to be his swan song…there is no better way to leave then going out and pulling one out of the hat with this team vs a much better UVA team with a lot on the line. If he stays I am fine with that too, but it is a great picture of him with that cup…he never wanted one so bad

  15. hokie134022

    I was ready to be embarrassed last night by what I thought would be a down game for the team and one poorly attended by the fans, all on national TV. Wrong on both counts. The commentator said over and over that he could not believe the fan support on a frigid night the day after Thanksgiving. After the game against Wake there was little hope and yet we played well (433yds of offense) against a good defense and got the cup back. I am with Jrodhokie, a win against the hoos makes the year more palatable. I will always wonder how the season would have been had we closed out East Carolina and Georgia Tech in those fourth quarters.

  16. I think that last nights game was one of the toughest performances by Tech this season. Drama-you couldn’t script a better story- beginning with the coin toss scuffle, Beamerball TD, player ejection (BS call), back up QB concussion, big plays from the wounded QB. Pretty much drained (me) at the end of the game. This team may have struggled during the year, but never quit and played hard.

  17. Congratulations to the Hokies who showed the “we don’t quit” attitude last night and won a very hard fought game! I thought Brewer was MVP last night as yet again he took a pretty good beating most of the night and ultimately made the significant throws that ended up being the difference. I think using Motley in the bowl game is the way to go. For the brief period of time he was playing prior to getting hurt, he definitely brings a nice dynamic (has a good set of wheels) to the offense and gives Brewer a breather. Hopefully with 3 or 4 weeks off, we can get some of the injured healthy and bring home a win from the whatever bowl game we end up playing. Great win to end a very rough regular season!

  18. Congratulations to the coaching staff and the team for getting prepared for this game and taking care of business. Well done!!!

  19. By the way, the announcing crew last night was saying we have the longest active bowl streak in FBS. They even showed a list of the current active streaks.

    F$U was not included due to one of their bowls being vacated by the NCAA.

    1. That’s just a technicality that is well known by TSL staff. We all know F$U has the “real” current active streak.

  20. If the only game the Hokies had won this year was UVA, I would still call it a successful season. Thanks Hokies, never say die.

    1. It’s this absolutely ridiculous thinking that divides our fans. It was a great game because both teams stink…

      1. Sorry, but after a performance like that by a very game Tech team, your comment is unfortunate and ill timed. Stay away from the punch bowl!

      2. I have to disagree with you..both team played well on both side of the ball knowing that DFs were going to dominate (both team also have some very close games that they could have won during the season)… For me, the wins against OH and UVA made the reason and everything else in between was just gravy. Going into the reason I didn’t have high expectation knowing that it’s still a rebuilding year. This must be the 1st time in Frank’s tenure that there are this many freshman playing. I just won’t go with the hype and stats pointing to the downward trend. My eye ball test this year with how hard the player continue to play and never quit attitude (a sign that they believe in the coaches) and with a pretty good recruiter year, 2015 and 2016 will good years ahead with Frank at the helm and with all his current staff.

  21. Gutsy win. Great job all around. If game results and excitement matter in recruiting, we couldn’t have brought Mr Sweat to a better atmosphere.

    Hats off to the fans for posting!

  22. I second what astrohokiebob says above…I didn’t know how we would score, much less score enough to win. When frenchie got that late TD, I KNEW we were toast (and I know I’m NOT alone). Luckily for VT, it is the TEAM (and not the fans) who plays, plays hard if not always well, and NEVER says die….

    Congrats to all the coaches and players. I VERY nice end to very rough season…beating uva NEVER gets old!! EVER! Those who may forget why, only had to watch those arrogant bastages last night to get an excellent reminder!

  23. Will, It’s Been a Ride this Season for sure. As a fan and player ! The game last night was one of the Best between these two teams , hard fought and lasted right up to the end…UVA kept Mike…Hokies Kept the Cup !! 11 Years and Counting …

  24. Congratulations coaching staff and players. Great hard faught win last night. You did it. You really did it. You did not give up when a lot of us did. Thanks for keeping the faith! You are Hokies!

    1. Congratulations to the coaches! While I can understand all of our fumbles, I definitely am thankful for CFB and CBF instilling honor in our players. I was disgusted by the Uva players. I saw completely diff play between the 2 teams. Uva players hit late every time and were malicious, taunting. Dean 55’s late hits on every play? He was called ONCE. The guy who grabbed Dadis leg trying to trip him after a play? Dadi got called. Dadi makes a legal tackle and hurts a player? He goes and helps the player get up and feels sorry that he hurt him. 55 danced around and taunted the players he hurt on the field.

      I never knew that London and Uva were so low class. Lead by example. Wow. I had so many profanities and hatred locked and loaded, but what’s the use.

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