Duke Downs Virginia Tech 45-43 in 4 Overtimes

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— hokiesports.com box score —

Blacksburg, VA — In a game loaded with intrigue, Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk scored on a two-point conversion at the end of the fourth overtime to lead 23rd-ranked Duke over Virginia Tech, 45-43.

In a contest full of great plays, drama, and gaffes, the Hokies wound up on the short end of the stick. Michael Brewer returned and played almost the entire game, though Brenden Motley was inserted at times. It was a solid outing by Brewer, who was 24-45 for 270 yards and 3 TDs, with no interceptions.

Tech tight end Bucky Hodges caught three TD passes, all from Brewer, and tailback Travon McMillian ran 29 times (24 after half time) for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns. The Hokies also didn’t turn the ball over, and they had 452 total yards against Duke’s #4-ranked defense in the nation, which had been giving up just 252.8 yards per game.

The Hokies ran 100 plays to just 72 for Duke, and held the ball for 36:51 to Duke’s 23:09, including a huge 13:20 to 1:40 advantage in the third quarter. Along the way, Tech had a 95-yard, 20-play drive (the second most plays in a drive under Frank Beamer) that went for a touchdown and lasted 9:46, a record for the Hokies in the Beamer era.

So how did Tech lose? It’s a question the Hokies will be asking themselves for a while. But it boils down to a simple fact: Virginia Tech is not doing enough of the things it takes to win football games, sometimes even when they have significant statistical advantages like they did in this game.

Duke gained 449 yards (387 in regulation), but the Blue Devils average 412 yards a game, so that wasn’t unusual. But the Blue Devils averaged 6.2 yards per play to Virginia Tech’s 4.5, and the Blue Devils capitalized and at times scored quickly, whereas Virginia Tech had to earn everything they got.

Duke also didn’t turn the ball over, the second straight game the Hokies haven’t forced a turnover, after once being ranked #11 in the nation in turnover margin.

It came down to Virginia Tech failing to make a 2-point conversion in the first possession of the fourth overtime, whereas Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk ran it in when he had a chance, juking Tech’s Andrew Motuapuaka in the backfield and running over Luther Maddy at the goal line in the process.

Duke made the plays to win. Virginia Tech didn’t.

Along the way were many twists and turns, which we’ll go over in the game recap below. Among other things:

  • The Hokies lost 12 yards on a wide receiver screen, turning a possible TD drive into a field goal.
  • The Hokies were caught off guard at the end of regulation when the referees ruled that Cam Phillips had his forward progress stopped before he went out of bounds, leading to a running clock that burned valuable time.
  • Frank Beamer opted to try a 67-yard field goal on the final play of regulation instead of a Hail Mary.
  • Beamer decided to go for two late in the third quarter and the Hokies failed to pick it up.
  • A strange offsides kick by the Hokies turned out to be a poorly-executed squib kick that turned the field position battle in Duke’s favor and led to a Blue Devil field goal.

The only way to get it all documented is to simply recap it, in chronological order.

Game Recap

First Half

Duke marched downfield to open the game with a methodical 14-play, 75 yard drive that ended with a  1-yard TD pass from Thomas Sirk to Max McCaffrey. On the drive, Duke was 4-4 on 3rd down conversions.

Michael Brewer responded, completing three passes to his tight ends on the ensuing drive, including a 36-yard pass to Bucky Hodges, and a 16-yarder to Hodges for the tying touchdown.

Bucky Hodges
Bucky Hodges stretches for a 16-yard TD reception.

Duke roared back with a 6-play, 75-yard TD drive that ended with McCaffrey’s second TD catch, a 16-yarder to make it 14-7.

That score stood for a while, until early in the second quarter when the Hokies drove downfield and had 1st and ten at the Duke 19. The Hokies tried a wide receiver screen to Isaiah Ford (career-high 9 catches, 67 yards), but the screen was blown up and Ford lost 12 yards on the play. Tech settled for a 44-yard Joey Slye field goal to make it 14-10 early in the 2nd quarter.

Neither team threatened for the rest of the second quarter, with the exception of Duke driving to the Hokie 11, only to have kicker Ross Martin miss a 28-yard field goal from there. The score remained at 14-10 at half time.

Second Half

The Hokies dominated the third quarter everywhere but the scoreboard. Tech ran 29 plays to just six for Duke, and the Hokies held the ball for 13:20 to Duke’s 1:40. But VT only outgained Duke 146-80, and Duke outscored the Hokies 7-6 on the strength of a 58-yard TD run by Shaun Wilson that capped a 4-play, 80-yard TD drive.

The Hokies started the third quarter with a 9-play, 36-yard drive that led to a punt. Wilson’s 58-yard TD run put Duke up 21-10 four plays later.

“The safety lined up on the wrong side,” explained defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who chewed out Adonis Alexander after the play. “Those are the things right now, that as a coach, you’re tearing your hair out, very simple things that we rep. And we repped that play 25 times.”

Tech’s Der’Woun Greene brought the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone but was crushed at the five yard line. Facing 95 yards of turf in front of them, the Hokies went on a 20-play drive that consumed 9:46 from the clock and featured 5-of-5 on 3rd down conversions. At the end of the drive, Travon McMillian ran it up the gut on 3rd and goal from the two yard line for the touchdown.

Travon McMillian
Travon McMillian

The 20 plays were the second-most plays in a drive for the Hokies under Frank Beamer, and the 9:46 set a record for time of possession on a single drive. That made it 21-16 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter, and Frank Beamer decided to go for two points. The Hokies brought in Brenden Motley, whose arm was hit on a pass attempt, and the ball fell to the ground.

“It was a five-point game, and if you go for one, it’s still a four-point game,” Frank Beamer said afterwards to explain his decision to go for two relatively early in the contest. “If you make it a three-point game, you can tie it with a field goal. You don’t usually start playing that until the fourth quarter, but I thought it was close enough [to the fourth quarter] that I wanted to get it to a three-point game.”

On the Hokies ensuing kickoff, Tech kicked an onsides kick that Duke recovered at their own 49-yard line. It was an odd decision, but Frank Beamer said after the game that it wasn’t intended to be an onsides kick, but a squib kick.

“That was supposed to be a knuckleball dribbler down to the 20-yard line,” Beamer explained. “We practiced it all week, and we didn’t execute it. That wasn’t an onside kick at all. What I was hoping is that we would get a cheap fumble. You get the knuckleball rolling down there, you get guys that aren’t used to handling the ball and maybe get to fumbling it around, and we get the ball around the 25 or 26. But when it takes a high hop and the front line gets it, that’s not very good execution.”

To make things worse, the Hokies were flagged for an illegal formation, and Duke took over on the Virginia Tech 46-yard line.

The failed kick shifted the field position battle drastically and eventually led to a Duke field goal. After a three-and-out, the Blue Devils pinned the Hokies at their 13-yard line with a punt, then sacked Brewer to force the Hokies into a long fourth down from their own four yard line. A 35-yard punt by A.J. Hughes put Duke in business at the VT 35 yard line. From there, the Blue Devils moved just 15 yards and got a 41-yard field goal to go up 24-16 with 11:48 to go.

The two teams then traded punts, and with 7:57 left, the Hokies took over on their own 17 yard line. They mounted their second monster drive of the game from there, going all 83 yards in 12 plays. Isaiah Ford caught three passes for 30 yards in the drive, which ended with one of the plays of the game, a 23-yard Brewer bomb to Bucky Hodges that Hodges reeled in, despite being interfered with.

Bucky Hodges
Bucky Hodges hauls in a 23-yard TD pass from Michael Brewer.

On the play, Brewer was rushed by an untouched blitzer, but he stood in the pocket, delivered the ball, and took the hit.

“They do a lot of very good things schematically on defense,” Brewer said. “One of the things they do at critical points in the game is to bring what we call 11-up heat, where they’re bringing in at least one more than we have to protect. I knew I was going to have a free hitter coming at me, and I tried to buy myself just enough time. Bucky made a great play.”

That made it 24-22 with 2:07 left, and the Hokies went for two. This led to a bizarre sequence where Duke committed two more pass interference penalties on subsequent plays. On Tech’s third try from the one yard line, Travon McMillian roared up the middle behind Wyatt Teller to tie the game.

Duke, on the strength of a 39-yard pass to McCaffrey, threatened for the win with 1:09 left. On 4th and three from the Hokie 28, Ross Martin missed again, doinking a 46-yard field goal attempt off the right upright to keep the game knotted at 24.

The ball was spotted on the VT 29, and the Hokies took over from there with 1:04 remaining and a timeout left. After a 16-yard run by McMillian out to the VT 45, the Hokies lined up and were ready to snap with about 41 seconds left. But the players received the signal from the sideline and looked over there for the next play, which ate up valuable seconds.

The Hokies snapped the ball with just over 30 seconds left. Brewer threw a sideline pattern to Cam Phillips, who was knocked out on the 50 with about 27 seconds left. The Hokie coaching staff assumed that the clock would stop, but the referees ruled that Phillips’ forward progress was stopped inbounds, and the clock kept running.

“We thought he had stepped out of bounds,” Beamer said. “He [the official] said something about his forward progress, but I thought he intentionally stepped out of bounds. We thought the clock had stopped, and all of a sudden, the clock was running.”

“We hit Cam on a smash to the sidelines, and instantly, I thought he was out of bounds,” offense coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “I take my head down to call a huddle call, I look up, and the clock’s running … I was assuming he was out of bounds, and I was getting ready to put ourselves in position to get to the 35 yard line. That’s what was in my head, but they didn’t call him out of bounds.” Loeffler paused. “We called that play to get him out of bounds.”

Tech didn’t call their remaining timeout, and didn’t snap the ball until there were eight seconds left on the clock. Brewer threw incomplete to Ford with two seconds left.

The Hokies took their last timeout at that point, and with the ball on the 50 yard line, Frank Beamer opted to have Joey Slye try a 67-yard field goal, two yards short of the NCAA record for the longest field goal. Slye missed the kick well short as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

Overtime #1

Duke went first. Neither team picked up a first down. Martin kicked a 38-yard field goal for Duke, and Slye kicked a 37-yard field goal for VT. Duke 27, Virginia Tech 27.

Overtime #2

Virginia Tech went first and scored on an 11-yard TD pass from Brewer to Hodges to go up 34-27. Deon Clarke committed pass interference on the first play of Duke’s possession, and the Blue Devils tied it up two plays later on a 4-yard TD pass to Anthony Nash, 34-34.

Overtime #3

Duke opened with a 21-yard pass to McCaffrey that gave them 1st and goal at the four yard line. The Hokie defense stiffened, forcing a 20-yard field goal attempt that Martin nailed. VT went three and out, and Slye hit a 40-yard field goal to tie it at 37.

Overtime #4

The Hokies went first and drove methodically to the one, where McMillian scored on a one-yard run up the middle. NCAA rules mandate that from the third overtime on, teams must go for the two-point conversion. The Hokies tried a pass play, and Brewer’s attempt to Ford was broken up.

Duke scored a touchdown on the next play. Duke tight end Erich Schneider, lined up wide, blew past Chuck Clark’s man coverage and hauled in a 25-yard strike from Sirk to tie it at 43.

Duke's Erich Schneider beats Chuck Clark for a 25-yard TD in the fourth overtime.
Duke’s Erich Schneider beats Chuck Clark for a 25-yard TD in the fourth overtime.

“We were bringing just a five-man rush on that,” Bud Foster explained. “That play right there was really disappointing, because we weren’t in position to contest the ball.”

On the next play, Sirk ran a QB draw to the right. Andrew Motuapuaka had a shot at him in the backfield but whiffed. Sirk ran to the goal line, where he collided with Tech’s Luther Maddy and fell into the end zone for the 45-43 victory.

With the loss, the Hokies fall to 3-5 overall, 1-3 in the ACC, while Duke improves to 6-1 (3-0). Tech’s streak of 22 straight bowl games is in jeopardy, and an ACC Coastal Division title is out of the question.

Bud Foster was philosophical about the loss afterwards. “We’ve had a lot of these games over the years, a lot of tight-nosed football games that are pretty stressful, and this was one of them. It’s unfortunate. Our kids played hard. And our fans, we appreciate you guys. We’re going to keep fighting.”

Frank Beamer talked about the need to bounce back from the loss. “We’ve got some big ball games against rival opponents. Coming back from disappointment and showing a little character and being relentless, those things go a long way in life. If you give in, I pretty much know how the story’s going to turn out.”

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23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. My take on the whole VT situation is that the overall team morale is gone. You can see it on the sidelines, the players attitudes, and the play on the field. I don’t think TALENT is the issue but rather a lack of preparation, and maybe the lack of coaches thoroughly knowing their position that they are coaching. Its been games that we have clearly been out coached, then we hear the coaches every week saying “I wish I could do that over” its becoming the norm at VT. It’s more to coaching than X’s and O’s,( and we’re not that good at coaching that either) But where’s the intensity, the passion, the swagger? I think it’s time for a change and it needs to start from the Head coach on down!

  2. NO, the 2 point attempt was not the right choice. The 2 point attempt is good when you know what the final score will be or very close to knowing. You can not know in the third quarter. It has backfired on VT several times and still keep trying. UVA and FSU come to mind.

  3. Two pt conversion try was a bad decision. Way too much time left in the game, with multiple possessions and potential scoring opportunities for both teams. You take the free point.

  4. Lack of intensity, top to bottom. Other than the first half of the OSU game and NCSU, the top down lack of intensity is startling… And has become the norm. Call it lack of execution, talent problems, injuries, or whatever else you want. The lack of intensity, in the past imparted by the coaching staff and team leaders is simply not there. It is gone… and it affects everything even the fans (loud music and videos are an attempt to mask a lack of intensity that teams with none use.)

    You don’t believe? Look at the first half against OSU, read about preparation and watch NCSU, and then watch the 1999 Pitt game and come to your own conclusion.

  5. Some bad decisions by CFB! It’s becoming a pattern. And how about motivating the team to play with more urgency earlier in the game!!

  6. The defense is horrible. That Duke defense allowed 46 pts all year until yesterday, and we hang 43. Giving up 45 pts is ridiculous to an offense that is simply not that good. I know we have had some injuries (and the continual injury train to all VT sports is something that is a serious issue that has to start raising eyebrows, but is for another time), but at some point you have to have another defense in your repertoire besides lining up man to man with 2nd stringers. A dash of zone coverage would be nice.

    That all said, Beamer needs to recognize that his old conservative let the defense win it approach needs to go. After both of their 1st possessions resulted in fgs, we ran, ran, conservative play for fg to tie it both times (like we could care less about going for a td despite Brewer playing phenomenal). That and some stupid in-game decisions and even letting Motley see the field (especially after we just had a td drive, and then again having him pass the 2 pt conversion. …these decisions were laughable at best). Motley’s days should be numbered. The same plays we were getting sacked vs Pitt and others are tds vs Miami and duke with Brewer under center.

    It is time to revamp the whole staff

    1. Why should Motley days be numbered? Last year when Brewer were literally stinking up the field especially in games where the D showed up such as GTech and WFU, did you feel his days were numbered? Many of you are are clueless about the game, ignore stats and get caught up in emotions. Now Brewer, had a good game yesterday, but I remember plenty of bad games. Just like Brewer, Motley had to learn as a first time starter and his worst day was definitely Miami. Nevertheless, he held his ground and his play put us in position to at least beat ECU outside of the games he won. The Pitt game was an annihilation of the offensive line. His work was commendable and with the exception of the Miami game, his stats were very respectable. Inspite of what you may think , he is a D1 QB. Nevertheless, more has been invested in Michael Brewer from the coaching perspective, particularly the OC. Unfortunately, Tech does not prepare second stringers for the eventual possibility of having to play and this is evident in many of the other positions.

      By the way, truly observe the game. The playbook for Brewer is far more different than Motley. How many slants did Tech throw consistently against Pitt and Miami with Motley? I am pretty sure he could make that throw. If Brewer is all you make him to be, why did not the coaches trust him to attempt a 48 yard hail Mary after they the coaches mismanaged the clock. There is no team in the country who would not have allowed their starting QB to attempt a throw under from that field position. Does Brewer, the great ONE has the ability to throw that depth. Instead, Tech risk an Auburn by allowing their FG kicker to attempt a 65 yard FG. For you to insinuate that Brewer would performed better against Pitt with no rushing yards and an Oline that could not block their shadow is completely idiotic and more laughable than the coaches questionable decisions which was indeed idiotic. So do not get emotional with your assessment of both QB. Brewer played well yesterday but he is not GOD like the hokies nation make him to be and Motley is no scrub. Remember, half of fair weather folks cursed him immensely last year when he also had his so called Motley moments which were many.

  7. My impression was, the Hokies played with a lot of heart (Brewer especially) and deserve credit for it. Duke has more talent and better coaching.

    1. Errrr I agree with everything you said except talent. No chance they have more and it’s not even close. They are just coached that much better

  8. The middle of Bud Foster’s Tech defense has disappeared into never-never land.

    To beat Tech, run your QB right up the middle.

  9. Frank’s comments (and decisions) with the 2 pt conversion and onside kick reeked of desperation. The after-the-fact explanation of the latter, if true, is just lack of preparation.

    1. No offense but it wasn’t lack of preparation, it was lack of execution. Beamer said up front they practiced the squib kick all week but when they actually called it, the kid flubbed it.

      I’m all for holding the coaches accountable but they can’t go out and play themselves. At some point you have to hold the players accountable.

      1. No offense, but has it occurred to the nonbelievers that maybe Frank and his Coaching style and his Coach”s practices and methods of motivation are not very effective anymore? I have watched this program for along time, they use to get more output with far less talent than we have today. If kid’s skill level today are better than kids 10 and 20 years ago b/c they have improved their skill by playing more and competing in more camps, and if there are a dozen of recruiting services that are now available to aid the player assessment process………tell me what then has been constant. What component has not evolved or has not changed for the better? There is one common denominator that is the same every year.

        1. I agree with your analysis. But something else is going on with the D. I believe it could be players are having trouble with previous injuries. Luther just isn’t the same after his injury last year (got trucked by a skinny QB at the goal line?), Dadi looks like he’s playing touch football – like he can’t grab anything, maybe Facyson lost a half step after his broken leg, Ekanem may have tweaked his knee from his injury in high school, Fuller on the sidelines entirely. These guys are just not the same players they were last season.

          This is speculation on my part – Please, anybody got any other theories?

          1. I agree. Thinking the same thing with all the returning starters on D there has to be a logical explanation for the decline other than the emotional dribble that all of a sudden Foster can’t coach.

          2. You got it. I spoke or wrote about lingering injuries and possibly the trenday that the staff is pushing these kids to hard and then too soon back into battle. Maybe it’s also a bit of program bad luck. You combine injury at key senior positions, combined with low depth at key positions, combined with Coaches prone to being convicted, stubborn or unstable in their play calling (Frank,Bud, Shane, Scott) combine with Coaches convicted, stubborn, or unstable in selecting the right player rotations (Frank,Bud, Shane, Scott) and then throw in other unexpected surprises here and there and I think we get exactly the type of product we get today. Anyone get the feeling CFB and company spend the 1st half of every season figuring out what many other programs figure out during the summer offseason? I love how end of last year, the coaches are apologizing to Coleman after his 4 game explosion but this year the guy is regulated back to “zero” status by game. Now why did it take so long (end of the 5th game) to recognize Travon was an upgrade benefit over JC if that was the case. This fact has been there since the Spring. The running back race should have been between JC, Travon, and Trey only. It should have never included DJReid, DeShawn McClease, Coleman Fox and certainly not Shai returniMG from surgery#2. Shane Diluted his evaluation capacity by including too many RBs. He diluted touches for his 3 primary runners so assessment decisions could occur early. But not to pick on Shane completely, we are gaffing like this just about at every position. This is what frustrates me.

      2. Both the first 2 point attempt and the ensuing kickoff were acts of desperation. Too early to chase points and then Squib kick on the off chance we recover a fumble. Better to kick it deep and party field position.

        1. You say that thinking you know the right choice now, after the game is over, but if we had kicked the PAT and then later in the game if our only option was a FG still down by 4 points, you’d be condemning the team for not going for 2 earlier. Please don’t call it an act of desperation…it was a smart move that was (broken record here) poorly executed on the field.

          The muffed squibb kick, however, I will agree was more of an act of desperation by Frank and just reeked of the poor decision making he falls prey to, just like the Michigan gaffe.

          1. Excellent comment! The 2 points conversion was the right decision at that moment because it ensures that we would had the opportunity to depend on a FG as opposed to a TD if the the play was executed. The problem was the play selection. Even with Motley as the QB, why in the heck is Tech trying to throw a fade? In a situation where you have two studs at TE who are 6,4 and greater, why not throw a quick slant?

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