No. 17 Virginia Tech Smothers No. 19 Florida State In 24-3 Win

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Virginia Tech got to celebrate on Florida State’s home field on Monday night. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A mock tomahawk chop broke out late in the fourth quarter in a robust Virginia Tech fan section at Doak Campbell Stadium on Monday night. As the closing seconds of the 20th-ranked Hokies’ 24-3 win over No. 19 Florida State wound down, the chant and cheering grew louder and louder.

Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster basked in the scene.

Foster has been around for all the big games against the Seminoles, the national championship loss in 2000, the ACC Championship setback in 2005, all those big games that always seemed to go FSU’s way.

To see his inexperienced defense, with only four returning starters from last year and a host of first-year contributors, dominate Florida State on the road in a season opener the way his unit did gave him joy that few performances could.

“This was always the team and the program you were chasing,” said Foster, who is in his 32nd year on Tech’s staff. “I’m not saying we haven’t caught them yet, but it’s gratifying tonight to come down here with a group of no names so to speak and we stepped up.”

In front of 75,237 fans and a nationally-televised audience, the Hokies broke a six-game losing streak in Tallahassee. Their last win here came in 1974, when Foster was in high school.

“I didn’t know that, but I guess tonight we changed that for him,” said Tech senior defensive tackle Ricky Walker. “Coach Foster deserves it. 

“He’s the man. Coach Foster, on the sideline he was calm and kept his composure the whole time. He waited until the clock hit zero to finally smile and tell people congratulations. Hats off to coach Foster, because he had a great game plan, and as you can see we smothered those guys.”

The Hokies choked out the Seminoles’ offensive attack, which was supposed to be potent in first-year coach Willie Taggart’s “Gulf Coast” system. While it’s true it takes time for a team to get acclimated to a new coaching staff and new system, this was a beating that was hardly expected by those outside the program.

Those inside the program? Well, that’s a different story.

“I’m not surprised the defense had a good game because we’ve been working very hard since January,” said Tech freshman cornerback Caleb Farley. “I know we’re young, but we have a lot of faith in each other and faith in our coaches. Coach Foster is the best coach in America.” 

Tech (1-0, 1-0) forced five turnovers, registered 14 tackles for loss and five sacks, and held Florida State (0-1, 0-1) out of the end zone on its home field. 

The last time the Seminoles failed to score a touchdown at home was in a 12-3 loss to Wake Forest on Sept. 20, 2008.

“We felt very prepared with practice leading up to this game. It was like a glorified practice,” Farley said.

The Hokies deserve much of the credit for keeping FSU out of the end zone, but they had some breaks fall their way as well.

Seminoles wide receiver Keith Gavin bobbled a would-be 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and FSU came away with no points when Ricky Aguayo missed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide left. 

In the fourth quarter, Seminoles fleet-footed tailback Cam Akers broke off an 85-yard run, but was chased down by Hokies cornerback Bryce Watts at the Tech 6-yard line. A few plays later, the Seminoles botched a handoff from Akers, who was lined up as a wildcat quarterback, to running back Amir Rasul.

Hokies defensive end Houshun Gaines recovered the fumble to preserve the lead.

“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do. Cam was indecisive on whether to keep it or give it,” Taggart said. “We had it where we wanted and we didn’t execute. I think a lot of what happened today was a lack of execution.”

The defensive masterpiece masked an imperfect performance by the Hokies’ offense.

Tech had its moments, but it squandered some prime scoring opportunities as well. One instance was a failed fourth-and-goal from the FSU 1 in the third quarter.  The Hokies gave the ball to tough-running tailback Steven Peoples, but he was stopped short of the goal line to give possession to the Seminoles.

“We had great field position the majority of the game. It was just a lot of times we couldn’t capitalize,” Tech sophomore quarterback Josh Jackson said. “We feel like we could have scored a lot more, but I’m definitely happy with what we did. Our defense played great. Three points and [five] turnovers, so that’s a great job.”

Jackson completed 16 of 26 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, a 10-yard strike to wideout Damon Hazelton in the first quarter and a 49-yard completion to receiver Eric Kumah in the fourth.

The Hokies, who led 10-0 midway through the first quarter, were out-gained 327-319 and converted only 3 of 14 third downs, but they avoided any turnovers and held the ball for almost eight minutes more than the Seminoles. 

“It certainly wasn’t perfect by any means, but to play as hard and as intelligent as I felt like we played, by and large with a couple of exceptions, I was awfully proud of our staff and of our players to find a way to get a victory,” Tech head coach Justin Fuente said.

With retired coach Frank Beamer in attendance — he and former FSU head whistle Bobby Bowden were honorary captains and participated in the pregame coin toss — it was only fitting that special teams were major contributors to the blowout victory.

BeamerBall made yet another appearance when Chris Cunningham blocked a second-quarter punt that Kumah returned for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead. 

“I’ve always wanted to block a punt,” Cunningham said. “I just told myself, ‘I’m going to get one today.'”

Virginia Tech will return to action on Saturday when they host William & Mary in Lane Stadium.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2pm, and the game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.

— box score — 

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30 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. One thing I really get tired of hearing from the offence, and this goes back to all the Beamer offences. “We had a lot of opportunities, but failed to capitalize.”.

    A good offence DOES capitalize most of the time. Our offence is not good. Hopefully it will become good.

  2. You misspelled “lob” as “10 yard strike”………;>)

    More turf for the lunch pail. Go Hokies!

  3. Why did Peoples get the same number of rushes as McClease? I do not like the way CJF utilizes our rbs!! They could not stop 33 and he was close to breaking a long one!

  4. Great effort last night and love the W, especially at such a difficult venue. Not happy with CJF decision to go for TD on 4th and goal from the 1 early in 4Q. I agree that we SHOULD have been able to score from there. But the strategic aspects of game management are more important than a manhood contest. An FG at that point in the game would’ve given us a virtually insurmountable 3-score lead. Thank God for Bryce Watts and F$U bungled Wildcat play.

      1. I like the decision to go for it, but hated the play call. I can’t believe that we don’t have short yardage plays in the playbook where the QB lines up under center. Deep snaps on short yardage negate your advantage. Line JJ up under center and push forward. Even if you hand off you do it at the two instead of the five.

        1. Thank you HB4U..Thank you!!….I sometimes feel like a voice in the wilderness.. I HATE a short yardage play from the shotgun..It’s no longer a short yardage play! We aren’t the only team to do it, and I hate it ANY time i see anyone do it….

          If you’re going to plow up the middle, and everyone KNOWS that’s what you’re going to do, get ONE yard (or less), NOT 3-5 yards!

    1. I disagree because it was so close, would have been that more demoralizing, and at worst, our defense gets the ball at the 1.

      1. On the next possession, had F$U scored as a result of their 85-yard run, our lead would’ve been reduced to 7 and they would have seized the momentum. The likelihood of us winning would have decreased dramatically. In contrast, kick the lower-risk FG and the game is over. The HC needs to make cool, objective decisions. He didn’t, and it was indefensible. He was lucky that bad decision didn’t come back to bite him.

  5. I hate to be a “Negative Nancy”, but were we really laying down on the field to slow down their tempo? The one instance that Fowler and Herbstriet pointed out looked atrocious and definitely intentional. If so, that’s is most certainly not the Hokie Way and needs to be addressed.
    Can’t say enough about every other facet of the game, though. Awesome W

      1. Foster specifically said he didn’t..I believe Foster.. If it wasn’t illegal, there are far worse things I see on a football field on a regular basis.. I’ m OK with it. If it WAS illegal, we would have gotten flagged. I’m sick of being the gentleman Jim of college football when everybody else is street fighting.

        The second time their fans were booing about, we had 2 guys go helmet to helmet hard. You honestly think they’d risk getting taken out of the game due to concussion protocol just to buy time? I’m NOT buying it..

    1. No way to prove anything, heard it mentioned on ESPNU this AM and they dismissed it really fast, said it was so hut/humid that guys are going to come up lame, just the way it is.

    2. Don’t know if it was a flop, but the booing by FSU fans really turned me off. Lack of sportsmanship for an injured played. I lost a LOT of respect for FSU, and I did used to give them some props for having a solid top tier program.

      1. Last night was not a good look for a portion of the FSU fan base. Seems like there are those who, when things are not going their team’s way, spew nasty remarks from the stands, embarrassing both themselves and their team. Most of the FSU crowd, I’m sure, was great in support of their team but their are always a few idiots who show their true self.

    3. On the flop the mentioned it sure looked like a thigh cramp to me, and they hurt a lot. On the others, why would we have Walker and Hill flop?

    4. I’m going to give us the benefit of the doubt. He may have suffered a leg cramp. You can be walking just fine one moment and then cramp up suddenly.
      Regarding the tomahawk chop…I would have preferred that we not do that…especially the players. Let’s just take care of business and be good sports in doing so.

      1. I’m fine with it last night. You’ve got to remember these guys have, starting with media days, only thing they’ve heard was basically why are you even suiting for this game. Just give FSU the W and move on. Well they proved other wise. So they deserve to stick it back to all the nay sayers.

        1. Exactly…let them enjoy. I thought it was cool..and well earned. That is the most mind numbing arcane thing in all of sports (yep. including Rocky Top et al). It is obnoxious and well overdone… Since none of them wer left to do it, it is only fitting that the VICTORS take that rols..Screw FSU…I’m sick of being so worried about everybody loving us….

      2. Players don’t need to do it early in the game. However it was great by the fans after the game was no longer in doubt. If it annoyed the Seminole fans, so much the better.

    5. My guess was a cramp. The announcers are in an air conditioned booth, standing still, and have no idea about how a player feels in that moment. Honestly, I thought it was not their place to comment on that situation.

    6. Go back and watch the series. It starts around 3:30 in the 2nd quarter. On the very first play Burke goes down to all fours at the snap without any contact and eventually rolls to his side. He then struggles to get up the field and can be seen gingerly moving through the FSU huddle to get lined up. He gives minimal effort on the next play and then goes down. Honestly I’m nearly 100% sure he was injured on the first play and tried to tough it out. I’m guessing the coaches told him to go down so they could get him off the field. I don’t see anything wrong with that personally as it’s stupid to expect a team to play 10 on 11 for no reason.

    7. So, if we tackle their RB and are slow of getting off him so he can’t rush back to the huddle is that not the Hokie Way.

      That is commonly done and taught by High School Coaches….

      I think the optics were bad but so was punching one of our players in the head…..Fuente went NuTS by the way….

  6. I told my wife before the game that we would hear that darn tomahawk chop chant all night. Well, we shot that down and it was great to hear Hokies doing the chop chant at the end of the game.

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