Hokies Kick the Tar Out of the Heels, Inch Closer to Coastal Crown

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Virginia Tech (16)...  6 3 17  0 - 26
North Carolina ......  7 3  0  0 - 10

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter
11:30 NC - Elzy 1 yd run (Barth kick)
05:53 VT - Hazley 52 yd FG
02:19 VT - Hazley 38 yd FG

2nd Quarter
12:33 NC - Barth 20 yd FG
03:39 VT - Hazley 26 yd FG

3rd Quarter
10:38 VT - Davis 11 yd pass from Taylor (Hazley)
07:11 VT - Hazley 23 yd FG
02:37 VT - Davis 13 yd pass from Taylor (Hazley)


Chapel Hill, NC – The Hokies picked a good time to play their best all around game of the year, whipping North Carolina 26-10 in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon. Tech only has to win one of their next two games to clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division. They improved to 8-2 overall with the win, and 6-0 in the ACC. UNC dropped to 6-4, with a 3-3 mark in conference play.

Tyrod Taylor and UNC quarterback T.J. Yates were battling it out for ACC Player of the Year, until Saturday. Taylor didn’t complete a high percentage of his passes thanks to a couple of drops, but he hit big plays down the field at the right time to go 13-of-28 for 249 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Yates was 18-of-33 for 197 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. He had thrown just four interceptions all season before Saturday’s game.

Jayron Hosley picked off two of Yates’ passes deep downfield. He now has seven interceptions on the season, which ties him with Mana Silva of Hawaii for the national lead in picks.

The Tech defense allowed a touchdown on UNC’s opening drive of the game, but shut down the Tar Heels after that point. The Hokies picked off four passes, forced a fumble on the goal line, and limited UNC to just 314 yards of total offense. The Heels had 21 first downs for the game, but six of them came on their opening drive, including four on their first four plays from scrimmage. After that, the Tech defense settled down and played very well for the rest of the day.

Tech had four sacks, including two by r-freshman defensive end James Gayle, who was starting for the injured Chris Drager. Gayle now has four sacks for the season, as well as 6.5 tackles for loss, and he looks like he has a very bright future.

Bruce Taylor also had an impressive game, finishing with eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Taylor leads the team in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (6). John Graves and Steven Friday also shared a sack against the Tar Heels, while Davon Morgan and Eddie Whitley came up with critical interceptions. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow had just one tackle in the game, but it came at a critical time in the fourth quarter when he came up with a big hit, forcing UNC tailback Anthony Elzy to fumble near the Tech goal line.

Virginia Tech won this game despite not having the services of starting defensive end Chris Drager, starting wide receiver Dyrell Roberts and running back/kick returner David Wilson. Instead, they had a healthy Ryan Williams for the first time since early September, and he and Darren Evans punished the UNC defense.

Williams finished the game with 15 carries for 83 yards, and looked like the old Ryan Williams for the first time this season. Darren Evans had 14 carries for 90 yards, as the Tech offensive line was able to get a good push on the UNC front seven all day long. The Hokies finished with 418 yards of total offense as a team, and averaged 6.3 yards per play.

Two players in particular stepped up their game in a big time way. Wide receiver Marcus Davis came through with Dyrell Roberts out, catching four passes for 81 yards and two big touchdowns in the third quarter.

Placekicker Chris Hazley was 4-of-4 on the day, including a career long of 52 yards. He is a perfect 17-of-17 since missing the first kick of his career against Boise State, and is probably the top kicker in the ACC at this point in the season. Hazley’s 17 straight field goals tie the Tech record, set by Brandon Pace and Chris Kinzer.

Recap

The Hokies have grown accustomed to bad starts on defense recently, and that’s what they had to deal with yet again on Saturday. The Tar Heels marched 80 yards on their first possession to take an early 7-0 lead, and they gained first downs on their first four plays from scrimmage. Tech was getting blown off the ball, Anthony Elzy was running through the Hokie defense, and T.J. Yates was finding open receivers downfield.

Virginia Tech responded with two field goals on their first two drives of the game, including the 52 yarder by Hazley. However, UNC marched down the field and kicked a field goal of their own on their third drive of the game, taking a 10-6 lead with 12:22 remaining in the second quarter. They had the Tech defense reeling at that point, and only a big play by Bruce Taylor on third and goal from VT two yard line saved a touchdown.

At that point the Tech defense started playing like the Tech defense that we’ve grown to love over the past six years. The Hokies began shutting down the UNC running game at the line of scrimmage, pressuring quarterback T.J. Yates, confusing him with coverages in the secondary, and making big plays in the passing game.

On their fourth drive of the game, the Tar Heels led 10-6 and were driving to take an even bigger lead. They had the ball at the Tech 27 on a first and 10, and Yates threw deep to the back of the end zone to Erik Highsmith. However, free safety Eddie Whitley was with Highsmith step for step, and out-fought him in the air for the football, coming up with the critical interception to keep the Tar Heels from extending their lead.

Virginia Tech responded by going on a long drive that was capped by a 26 yard field goal from Chris Hazley for 3:39 remaining in the first half. That made the score 10-9 North Carolina, and that score held up until the halftime intermission.

The Hokies weathered the UNC storm in the first half, and then came out and dominated the Tar Heels in the third quarter. On their second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Darren Evans busted an 11 yard run around the left end, and then Marcus Davis turned a slot screen into a 46 yard gain to the UNC 24 thanks to a great block by Danny Coale on freshman cornerback Jabari Price.

Eventually it was Marcus Davis who ended the drive, catching an 11 yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor with 10:38 left in the third quarter to give the Hokies a 16-10 lead.

Thanks to a sack by James Gayle and two UNC penalties, the Hokies held the Tar Heels to a three and out on their ensuing drive. C.J. Feagles had just a 29 yard punt, and the Hokies took over on the 50. They couldn’t punch in a touchdown despite the short field, but they did settle for a 23 yard field goal from Hazley with 7:11 remaining in the third quarter to make the score 19-10.

Big plays by the defense and special teams sealed North Carolina’s fate in the next few minutes. Jayron Hosley intercepted a deep pass by Yates, and though UNC forced the Hokies to punt on their ensuing possession, punt returner Da’Norris Searcy slipped while trying to field the punt, barely grazing the ball with his fingertips, and gunner Alonzo Tweedy fell on the ball at the Tar Heel 29. The Tech offense had great field position, and they promptly closed the book on the home team.

The Hokies used three runs by Ryan Williams to advance the ball to the UNC 12, and after a one yard loss by Williams they faced a third and seven from the UNC 13. It was an obvious passing down, and Tyrod Taylor took the snap and dropped back … and back, and back. He finally found Marcus Davis shooting across the middle of the field for another touchdown pass, this time from 13 yards out. The Hokies led 26-10 with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter, and this game was in the bag.

UNC had the ball three times in the fourth quarter, and the result was two interceptions and one fumble at the Tech one yard line, which resulted in a Tech touchback. The Tech offense only attempted two passes in the fourth quarter, and spent most of their time running out the clock.

With the win against the Tar Heels, the Hokies are now 5-0 this year against all five 1-A teams from the state of North Carolina: East Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke and UNC.

Virginia Tech returns to action next Saturday with a big game at Miami. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm, and the game will be televised by either ACC or ESPN. The network will be announced tomorrow, November 14. If the Hokies win, they clinch the ACC Coastal Division and will play NC State, Maryland or Florida State for the ACC Championship in Charlotte.


STATISTICS

                          VT         NC
                         ----        ----
First downs               19          21
Rushed-yards          38-169      32-117
Passing yards            249         197
Sacked-yards lost       3-24        4-23
Return yards              58         131
Passes               13-28-0     18-33-4
Punts                 5-44.6      3-35.0
Fumbles-lost             1-0         3-2
Penalties-yards         9-56        8-34
Time of possession     31:55       28:05
Att: 60,000

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 

RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Evans 14-90, Williams 15-83, TEAM 1-(-1),
Taylor 8-(-3). NC, Elzy 17-82, Draughn 5-18, Yates 8-17, Boyd 1-1,
TEAM 1-(-1).

PASSING-Virginia Tech, Taylor 13-28-249-0. NC, Yates 18-33-197-4.

RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, Davis 4-81, Boykin 3-85, Coale 2-52,
Smith 2-16, Williams 1-11, Evans 1-4. NC, Elzy 7-102, Byrd 3-31, 
Barham 3-22, Highsmith 2-22, Draughn 2-16, Jones 1-4.
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