Virginia Tech Falters After Fast Start in 30-21 Loss to Oklahoma State

Virginia Tech football
In the end, too many mistakes and Oklahoma State’s offense proved to be too much for Virginia Tech. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)


ORLANDO, Fla. — Outmatched and outgunned, Virginia Tech needed to make every opportunity count. The Hokies could not afford to make big mistakes, and needed a pinch of luck.

Instead, Virginia Tech squandered a great first quarter and fell to Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl by a score of 30-21.

The mistakes added up by the end of the night. Virginia Tech fumbled on the Oklahoma State 1-yard-line in the second quarter, allowed Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington to run free for a 65-yard touchdown after cutting the Cowboys’ lead to one score, failed on a critical fourth down in the fourth quarter thanks to a poor snap, and also threw an interception in Oklahoma State territory. Tech also committed five penalties for 65 yards.

All of these mistakes proved to be too much to overcome.

“We had a plan, and we executed it well at times,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “My initial thoughts on the game — I don’t remember Oklahoma State making very many, if any, mistakes, and we made a handful. Just enough to kind of keep us from pulling the thing off.”

Virginia Tech’s offense needed to play their best game of the season vs. Oklahoma State, and simply didn’t.  The Hokies’ offense built their gameplan around running the football and controlling possession, and found some success. Tech finished with 248 rushing yards as a team, their highest rushing total since Sept. 23 vs. Old Dominion. Deshawn McClease led the way with 124 rushing yards, while Steven Peoples added 56 yards.

Tech executed their gameplan well in some areas. The Hokies won the time of possession battle handily, holding the ball for 38:13 and keeping their defense off the field for extended periods of time. Tech also moved the chains on third down, converting on 10 of their 18 third down attempts.

Quarterback Josh Jackson was uneven all night long, completing 22 of his 41 pass attempts for 248 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Jackson was a big factor in Tech’s running game for the first time in weeks, carrying the ball 16 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson was at least partially responsible for two turnovers, each of which cost the Hokies on the scoreboard.

“I don’t really feel good about this game,” Jackson said. “I think I missed too many throws. I don’t think I played very well.”

The Hokies’ defense did their best to contain Oklahoma State’s offense, which led all Power 5 teams in points scored per game this season. Thirty points is the second lowest point total for the Cowboys all season, and Tech actually out-gained Oklahoma State in yardage 518-492.

“Well, there’s no consolation prize in this game,” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster. “Our kids played hard. I’d like to have a couple plays back. We played for 60 minutes and I’m proud of the kids. You saw, there’s some dynamic players on that side of the ball, and you give them credit. I liked our plan, we just, we didn’t capitalize on some opportunities on both sides of the ball.”

Quarterback Mason Rudolph turned in a great performance, throwing for 351 yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 32 passing. James Washington and Marcell Ateman both finished with over 100 receiving yards, while Justice Hill added 120 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Still, to allow Oklahoma State to just 30 points, that’s an achievement.

“I think we played pretty good,” said Andrew Motuapuaka. “I think we gave them a few plays and stuff, but I think we did a good job of executing all around the board. We just missed some opportunities that we had.”

Virginia Tech’s mistakes washed away a great opening period, where the Hokies took control. After holding the Cowboys to a field goal on their opening drive, the Hokies embarked on an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that used up over four minutes of game time. Tech relied heavily on the ground game, in hopes of keeping their defense fresh and Oklahoma State’s offense on the bench. The gameplan worked early, as the Hokies led 7-3 after the first quarter.

After Virginia Tech’s stellar opening quarter, the Hokies began to unravel. Tech commandeered a 18-play drive that took ten minutes off the clock. The Hokies marched all the way from their own nine yard line down to Oklahoma State’s one yard line, and seemed to have scored on a run by Peoples. However, the referees confirmed the original call that he was down before crossing the goal line.

On the very next play, Tech fumbled on an exchange between Jackson and Peoples. Oklahoma State recovered the fumble, and quickly got into the red zone. The Hokies defense stood tall though, allowing just a 36-yard field goal from Matt Amendola. Oklahoma State trailed 7-6 with 7:28 left in the half.

“I tried to pull it late, and Peoples is a strong guy, had a good grip on it and I just didn’t get it. So that’s my fault,” Jackson said.

Virginia Tech football
Virginia Tech was unable to recover their fumble in the second quarter, and the turnover changed the entire complexion of the game. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech was forced to punt on their next two drives, and allowed Oklahoma State to take the lead before halftime. Rudolph found Marcell Ateman for 50 yards down the sideline, setting up the Cowboys inside one yard line. Justice Hill ran it in on the next play, giving the Cowboys a 13-7 lead heading into the break.

Oklahoma State took their first drive of the third quarter for a touchdown. Rudolph made several big plays, including a 19-yard scramble. Rudolph capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Stoner, putting the Cowboys up 20-7 with 11:22 left in the third quarter.

Down 13, Virginia Tech desperately needed a touchdown. The Hokies offense, which has struggled for several weeks, put together a nine-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that ended with a spectacular catch by Eric Kumah, as Kuman won a one-on-one battle and took the ball away from the defensive back. The Hokies trailed 20-14 with 6:31 remaining in the third.

Oklahoma State responded. Rudolph found Washington for 65-yard touchdown pass over Reggie Floyd, giving the Cowboys a 27-14 lead with 5:37 remaining in the third quarter.

“That was one I’d like to have back,” Foster said. “We were scrambled just a little bit, they went up-tempo, and just caught it. It was a good call on their part when it’s all said and done. Good execution. But that guy’s going to get his catches, or his catch or two. We gave up two big plays when it’s all said and done on defense that were costly.”

Virginia Tech needed to answer with yet another touchdown drive, but failed. The Hokies moved it all the way down to the Oklahoma State 11 yard line, but opted against a field goal attempt and tried to convert a fourth and eight at the beginning of the final period. A bad snap ruined the play, and Jackson was sacked for a loss of 16.

The Hokies’ defense continued to fight, getting stops on Oklahoma State’s next two drives. However, on Tech’s next possession, Jackson was intercepted at the Cowboys’ 29-yard-line. Yet another mistake on offense.

After Virginia Tech held the Cowboys on their next drive, the Hokies once again made it a one-score game. Jackson completed four passes, including a 31-yarder to Eric Kumah, putting the Hokies near the end zone. Jackson finished the drive with his second touchdown run, cutting Oklahoma State’s lead to 27-21.

Tech’s defense had a chance to give their offense one more chance, but failed. Facing a third and 11, Justice Hill busted outside for a 31-yard run, putting Oklahoma State in field goal range. Minutes, later, Matt Ammendola hit his second field goal of the night, giving the Cowboys a two-score lead with less than three minutes to go.

The Hokies’ loss drops them to 9-4 on the season, and ends Virginia Tech’s three-game bowl win streak. Tech also will fall just short of a 10-win season, a feat accomplished just once since the 2011 season. A nine-win season is certainly nothing to scoff at, but falling short of the 10-win mark is a hard pill to swallow.

“This one hurts, man,” defensive tackle Ricky Walker said. “We wanted to send those seniors out right. As you can see, we didn’t quit, we didn’t give up. That’s all (Fuente) preached to us since he’s been here. But this one, it just hit a different spot.”

— box score —

33 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Am I the only one that thinks this was just a good game that in the end VT did not make the plays when they should have? It was in doubt until the last FG. I am not usually critical of Ricky, but this article seems a little emotional. I mean, the offense did have over 500 total yards…

    1. We dominated most of the game. OSU was going to make some plays, we limited them to three. End the end that’s all it took as we beat ourselves again. Bama, Clemson, OSU don’t beat themselves. They make the other team win it. A couple questionable calls, two unforced fumbles, int, and missed wide open throw and you lose. Just like Clem and GT games. We have the talent and coaches to compete, just have to play to potential and eliminate unforced errors.

  2. Bottom line not running a QB sneak or straight run for Josh out of the shotgun on 1st and goal was the ballgame. We were fighting up hill the rest of the game. Cornelson out thinked himself all year when we had short yardage plays. I hope he learns from this game and other games when have short yardage plays you can’t get cute just run smash mouth plays.

    1. Just like the GT game – CJF outsmarted himself. We should have run the QB sneak, just like we should have run it to get the first down against GT. Both of those choices concern me, hopefully he learns from them.

  3. I was at the game last night. Great Hokie attendance and team effort. If we want wins in 2018 we better have a better QB emerge no matter who he is!

  4. Wow, several of you commenting here are being pretty tough on JJ. I thought he played well enough for us to win.

    In my opinion, the primary blame for the game-altering fumble lies with the coaching staff and the play call. It was first and goal from the one-half yard line. We should have called a simple play to provide a low probability of a mistake – either a straight-ahead run or a QB sneak. Certainly not the read option play that was called. Trying to get cute in that situation was unnecessary. We got there playing smash-mouth and should’ve stuck with it.

    And when we had the ball deep in OSU territory late, facing 4th and 8 in the red zone, we should have kicked the field goal instead of going for it.

    JJ did miss a deep ball to a wide-open receiver; and could have thrown a better ball on a deep slant in the end zone to Kumah. The INT was a ball that was slightly off target but our #8 got 2 hands on it and should’ve caught it.

    The D played tough but had a couple of major breakdowns that hurt us badly. It could’ve been worse as Rudolph missed wide-open receivers at least a couple of times.

    Anyway, it was a gritty effort and I’m proud of our team. All te best to the seniors, and I sure hope our underclassmen decide to come back! Happy New Year!

  5. Wow, Ricky, if I hadn’t seen the game I would never know about the nifty fake punt. It was well planned and executed.

  6. Tech’s new offense needs a dynamic QB.

    JJ, a good kid and true Hokie, is limited physically.

    He takes too many hits because he isn’t elusive enough and over the course of a game, much less a season, it affects his performance.

    Yes, if he had more experienced players around him it would help but how much.

    How many miscues last night and this season fell on his shoulders. I think this kid is a gamer but just can’t get it done as the hits accumulate.

    I expect a true QB race in the spring.

    1. Agree with Shbolf. I appreciate all that JJ has done to date, but we are going to “muddle” through a season with 7-9 wins unless a new QB emerges.

  7. Good wrap Ricky. Not aimed at you, but there is way too much criticism aimed at Josh. He was a freshman qb playing with a very young receiving corps. We just should not think that only he, not team, should be perfect.

    I was really proud of the team last night and I know that better days are ahead.

    Go HOKIES!

    1. I agree and Jackson played his tail off…made critical mistakes but the fumble with Peoples on the 1 Year’s line was just as much Peoples and a very BAD play call…plus please point out that People’s actually had to score TWICE here…that was a key turning point in the game along with questionable officiating all night long,imho…eg egregious pass interference on OSU and offensive holding that was never called

      The best team didn’t win this game but VT played with a lot of heart…that is what a Hokie is all about

      1. Agree on the bad play call. Tech was running up OSU’s gut all night between the tackles. You don’t need a read option at the goal line. By the way, the 3rd rate announcing team called that play (and many others) an RPO (run pass option). As far as I could tell, neither team ran an RPO all night.

        Re: IB4Tech’s comment about young receivers, I barely recognized several guys on both sides of the ball, and I have watched every game and been to three. Curious if that was all due to injuries, or just testing out some guys for next year?

      2. I think the best team DID win this game..They were good! The best team makes the plays that they made and we didn’t…

        I think we gave it a HELL of a shot, but they were the better team and we needed to play error free ball. We did NOT. They DID.This is sort of how it goes. As we get BETTER, we will be in better position to a) MAKE the plays and make fewer costly mistakes, and b) withstand mistakes when they DO come.

        We’ll get there , but we were beaten by a better team last night; as much as it pains me to say so!

        1. My feelings exactly on this game. They were the better team, but we almost played well enough to beat them. Just couldn’t afford/overcome the critical errors.

    2. It’s hard when you see us play a great game and the reason we lost was because they had more talent. Great seniors beat good underclassmen all around the country. Quite possibly the best receiver, qb, rb, group on one team since USC at fedex. And our guys played well enough to win (like agst USC); if the ball bounces our way, we have a chance.

      I look back to the last ACC title for VT and u see that year (Tyrod, Boykin, coale, Evans, Williams, and Wilson) were better and more talented than FSU or Clemson. Got to develop these young guys into dominant players. Recruit the juniors to stay. let’s Go!

    3. Young and very limited receiving corps…still JJ is a game manager in the Michael Brewer mold, cannot carry a team. He can’t stretch the filed.

  8. Thanks for your excellent reports all Season Long.
    Tonight’s frustration wasn’t getting beat, as OSU was the superior talented team and played a solid game to win. But VT beat themselves in Orlando—-mostly mental mistakes: errant center to QB snaps, fumble inside 2 yd line, blown coverage assignments, coaches chasing points, poor and/or dropped passes for TD or 3rd down conversions.

    Game plan was spot on but the mental errors resulted in a loss. Team & Hokie Nation will learn from this loss as this one stings quite a bit.

    Let’s Gp…Hokies
    Next up FSU!!!!

    1. Agreed. OSU didn’t beat us. The turnovers were not forced. We couldn’t overcome both…also, if JJ connected on the long toss, different game.

  9. A game that was winnable, but lost opportunities, including one almost certain TD, were too much.

    Oklahoma State was simply too good to miss chances against. The Cowboys took the lead right before halftime (always deflating for the other team). The Hokies played catch up the rest of the way and were simply never able to regain control.

    Thanks to the Seniors. We wish them well. Next season will be the third in the Fuente Era. I am very pleased by the recruiting class, and believe we are heading in the direction to make it to a higher level. I think it merely a matter of time. The future looks bright in Blacksburg!

    Here’s to 2018. Happy New Year!

  10. Tough loss. I think the team fought hard.

    That said, I know Josh Jackson wasn’t throwing to Ford, Phillips, Hodges, Coale, Boykin, Morgan, Royal or even Marcus Davis tonight, but he missed a home run to Murphy, could have put a better ball on Kumah on that third down in the red zone, and was VERY lucky to only throw one interception tonight. Moreover, with the exception of Brenden Motley, is it fair to say any other Hokie QB in the last 20 years or so (yes, even Sean Glennon) is a better passer than him?

    I was excited after the WVU and hoped he would continue to improve, but (excepting the BC game) it seems like he regressed. All year (in spite of some bad drops), he missed manageable throws, put too much air on balls, and didn’t quite spin it the way a QB on a team with greater aspirations than the Camping World Bowl would. As far as running, he was alright, but I just don’t think he is athletic enough or big enough to really thrive in JF’s offense–JF’s system is growing on me and with the right man I think it could be on par with Dan Mullen’s offenses, which work in college. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the kid’s grit, smarts and I think he has all the intangibles you want in a QB; however, I just don’t think he has a very high ceiling (i.e., I think he’s capable of no more than 8-9 wins per year).

    As a Beamer left over and with Evans leaving unexpectedly, I don’t think the Hokies had any other real choice this year (Ryan Willis from Kansas wasn’t eligible–don’t know much about him except he’s big and has a big arm; Hendon Hooker was/is a puppy–he will be much stronger and familiar with the offense next summer; not going to discuss AJ Bush). Similarly, I am not sure the plan was ever for him to be the long-term answer. I mean, Hooker and Quincy Patterson (if he stays a QB) certainly have the arms and athleticism to to be promising in the future. Is it crazy to hope we don’t have three more years of Jackson??

    1. I’m not honestly sold on Jackson either after we witness what a one year starter like Kelly Bryant (Clemson) or Jake Grimm (Georgia) or even Jerod Evans did for us in one year. I know Jackson broke Mike Vicks & Tyrod Taylor’s records but my jury is out on Jackson for the moment. We certainly saw limitations with his game this year. Something is not 100% legit but I will reserve full judgement until after summer camp. All will be revealed by then.

      What’s encouraging are the line of QBs in the stable and finally the trust in Mclease and JHoulston (aka J-Holiday) and the emergence of a young but taleneted wide receiving corp……those guys look good and passed the eye test.

      1. Sorry……Jake Grimm should read Jake Fromm……auto spell still thinks it’s smarter than its user.

  11. It was a good effort but Jackson did not throw the ball well which hurt – 3 things which irked me. 1. With 1st and goal at the 1/2 yard line and us getting good pushes on the line I just knew we would try a QB sneak. If you miss that then you can try something else but their is little risk of losing yardage on a sneak. 2. The play before Jackson threw the 2nd interception he scrambled for 8 yards to make it 3rd and 2. He slid on that play and it looked like if he goes into the defender forward he gets the first down. To me at that point in the game he should have gone to get the first instead of avoiding the contact. 3. JF passed on a field goal with a good bit of time left in the 4th quarter. That would have made it 27-17 and ultimately kept us within 1 score after they kicked the FG to make it 30-21. I know his thinking, they were moving the ball well and he didn’t think a FG would help. He used a similar logic in the GT game (didn’t think we would get many possessions) which also hurt us at the end of that game. In each case he is assuming defensive failure on our part. Can’t stop GT option and can’t stop OSU pass attack. Well if the defense is that subject to failure you aren’t going to win the game anyway. If the game is within reach and there is time on the clock kick the FG and believe your defense can get a stop or a TO. Play the score and quit predicting future series. The defense played a pretty good game. Of course huge kudos to JF on the overall game plan and the fake punt.

    1. Yep, the fancy ball handling with a 1st and 10 from the half yard line was a mistake. But it would have been foolish for Jackson to do a head-first kamikaze to get a first down. Otherwise, I thought the coaches and players did very well. They have my thanks for a good season.

      1. My beef after the slide was they passed twice when the running game was working.

        There’s something wrong with the short passing game for long stretches and we seemingly don’t throw slant passes when Cam is tin there.

        I don’t recall seeing Peoples in the second half.

  12. I always dislike losing but the team played hard and I think the future is bright for the program. We are a very young team and they had many seniors including a very good QB and the best WR in the nation. Two turnovers and no takeaways will sink you most games. Hope the players and coaches work extra hard for the opener against FSU. A win there could kick off a special season. Thank you seniors for playing for my alma mater.

Comments are closed.