Virginia Tech Suffers Historic Upset At ODU

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Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente’s team suffered a horrible defeat at the hands of Old Dominion on Saturday. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

NORFOLK — Embarrassing.

That was the word Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente used to describe his team’s shocking 49-35 loss to Old Dominion on Saturday. It was a sentiment shared by Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster as he considered the 632 yards his typically-stout unit yielded to a 27-point underdog.

“Let me say this: Congratulations to ODU. I thought they were well-prepared, played extremely, extremely well,” Foster said. “I was thoroughly embarrassed and disappointed in our play defensively, and I take full responsibility for it as defensive coordinator. That kind of display of just very inconsistent, poor technique, fundamentals, poor discipline – that’s just not who we are, and we’ll get that right.”

No. 13 Tech (2-1) owned up to its poor play. It couldn’t offer any viable excuse for its inexcusable setback in front of a school record crowd of 20,532 at S.B. Ballard Stadium, which sits in the middle of the most fertile recruiting hotbed of Virginia. 

No excuse would be good enough.

When asked if he saw any concerning signs during practice last week, Fuente said, “It’s easy to say that after you get embarrassed, but we had a couple days in there where I was trying to remind them and the staff was trying to remind them where we were preparing like a young football team. 

“I told them: ‘I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you that you were terrible and everybody told you you didn’t have a chance to win the first game (at Florida State). All you did was work your tails off. Now we get all feeling good about ourselves and we got brought back down to earth. We got what we deserved.'”

The Hokies have a history of epic upset losses. The fan base will never forget Temple ’98 or JMU ’10. Now it has a new upset to agonize over.

It doesn’t get much worse than allowing 49 points and 632 yards to an ODU team that opened the season with a 52-10 loss to Liberty and followed that up with setbacks to FIU (at home) and Charlotte.

The Monarchs, who picked football back up only 10 years ago, now have a program-defining victory against the best team to ever play on its home field. 

“We came out swinging,” ODU senior wide receiver Jonathan Duhart said. “When your back is against the wall, all you can do is fight, and that’s what we did today.”

Tech has no time to sulk after this one. It dives back into its ACC schedule next week on the road against a 4-0 Duke team that has averaged 47.5 points and 513.5 yards in wins against Baylor and North Carolina Central the last two weeks. 

Virginia Tech
It was not a happy homecoming for Tidewater native Trevon Hill. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

And the Hokies might be without starting quarterback Josh Jackson, who went down with an injury early in the fourth quarter. He was carted to the locker room and returned to the sideline on crutches with a boot on his left ankle. 

Backup Ryan Willis played in relief, leading the Hokies on a scoring drive to tie the game 35-35 in the fourth quarter, but ODU scored two touchdowns in the final 5:11, including a 40-yard scoring run by Jeremy Cox with 1:34 left. 

“I think Ryan played well under the circumstances,” Tech wide receiver Damon Hazelton said. 

This loss should make for some interesting tape review. Tech has a lot of areas that need improvement, starting with a secondary that was tested over and over again and never found a way to stop ODU’s passing attack.

The Monarchs (1-3) did all their damage with a backup quarterback leading the way. Blake LaRussa spelled starter Steven Williams after only one series and proceeded to light up the Hokies defense. 

LaRussa completed 30 of 49 passes for 495 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passing total was the second-highest against a Tech defense since 1987 (Maryland’s Scott Milanovich passed for 498 in a 55-28 Hokie win at Lane Stadium on Sept. 25, 1993).

“We were actually preparing for (Williams), but as you can see (LaRussa) is the better player,” Hokies defensive tackle Ricky Walker said. “He was making plays, extending plays, throwing up for receivers to grab in one-on-ones. (LaRussa) is a great player.”

ODU’s cadre of big playmaking receivers had a field day against Tech’s callow secondary. Six-foot-3 seniors Duhart (nine catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns) and Travis Fulgham (9-188-1) repeatedly punished the Hokies with big plays.

The Monarchs also rushed for 137 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground, including two from Cox, who finished with 130 yards on 20 carries.

“I knew they had some dynamic receivers, and they played extremely well. We didn’t play very well at all, as you guys could see,” Foster said. “Very disappointing. Very disappointed in how we competed. I just didn’t think we competed for balls. We played just poor technique. We weren’t ready to play is the bottom line, and I take full responsibility for that. That’s really about it. 

“You guys can ask a lot of questions, but that’s really about it. We played very poor. They played outstanding. And we’ll get 11 guys on the field that want to compete and play well, and that’s the bottom line. That’s about it.”

Missed tackles were also a problem for the Hokies, and the assortment of backbreaking penalties that always seemed to come just as Tech figured out a way to get ODU’s offense off the field. 

The Hokies were flagged seven times for 95 yards, including three personal foul penalties in the fourth quarter alone. Conversely, ODU committed only two penalties, costing it a paltry 10 yards.

“It’s uncharacteristic. It’s inexcusable,” Fuente said. “What happened was we got in the middle of a real game, a real competitive game and things weren’t going our way and that’s how we responded, and that’s inexcusable. That starts with me. I’m trying to get a better disciplined football team and our response was to go the wrong way instead of buckling down and trying to make a play.

“That was the first time our young football team had really been tested. We thought it was all going to be the first week (at FSU), and it wasn’t. It was this week, and that’s how we responded.”

Tech’s passing offense struggled at times, with dropped passes and errant throws cutting down precious scoring opportunities. Still, Jackson passed for 151 yards and had scoring passes of 28 and 72 yards to Sean Savoy and Hazelton, respectively.

The Hokies ground game kept the ball moving. Tech rushed for 318 yards on 49 carries. Steven Peoples had 156 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts. His 87-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest run for the Hokies since Kevin Jones broke off an 87-yarder against Temple in 2001.

Deshawn McClease had 75 yards on 12 carries, and Jackson added 58 yards on 11 attempts. But it was during a run in the fourth quarter that Jackson suffered his injury.

The Hokies suffered a troubling loss to the Monarchs. They’re hoping they didn’t lose their starting quarterback as well.

“I don’t know for sure” about Jackson’s status, Fuente said. “I just don’t know. Obviously he’s in a boot. You guys all saw him on the sidelines. We’ll take a look at it and see.”

“There’s not a bad thing I can say about the kid,” Willis said of Jackson. “He’s a leader. He’s a friend of mine. I told him I loved him. It’s a tough situation, you know. I don’t know what else to say about that.”

— box score —

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58 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It’s my fault – totally. I have a reverse mojo with VT Hokies football. Every single game I attend they lose, and lose big, even when heavily favored.

    ACCCG 2005
    Sugar vs. Auburn
    ChickFila vs. Georgia
    Both games against Bama (OK, we weren’t favored). Still happens.

    I’m done travelling to see the Hokie play in bowls and away games. The mojo must not win again.

  2. As i keep processing the last 24hrs and all yhe comments…….Man this is an EPIC fail!

    We had Two weeks to basically prepare for ODU and this is all the coaches and team could produce for themselves and their fan base. My sympathies to everyone who spent their hard earned money to witness defeat. Sympathies to every Hokie fighting off this emotional pain. But I am afraid its possible we haven’t reached our darkest hour or deepest pit of misery (I wish I could laugh but cant). Our agony is not likely over.

    Blood is in the water….UVA and every coastal school is coming for us. Somebody needs to get this message back to the program and make sure it sticks. They can make this loss look like a one off by going the heck off and kicking everyone’s Azz cheeks on the remaining schedule. That’s the only way to get some respect back on our name.

    Any less effort than that then we should mentally prepare to kiss the UVA win streak good bye this year because UVA has a monster mobile BIG QB whos also ready to punish us..

    More and more coastal teams are harboring the same sentiments as ODU. They feel overlooked (shame our coaches didnt get several if these kids) and They question our toughness and they are tired of hearing of Tech, Losing to Tech, and they are tired of being sick and tired.

    Blood is in the water now……UVA and every coastal team is coming for us. Will our coaches and our team be ready?

    1. The world makes no sense. Up is yellow, down is fork, ODU wins, and OK escaped army unfortunately (for us). Anyone working on a time machine?

  3. I wonder how the coaches will approach next week? Pissed off, punishments for the slightest infraction? Joe Gibbs style of full speed tackle to the ground practices after a poor showing? Just put ODU behind us and approach Duke as it is just the next
    game? It would be interesting to know to me at least

    1. We need an old fashioned Vince Lombardi blood n guts week… find out who is serious about wanting the honor of wearing a Hokie uniform and bench those who don’t .. I fear that Fuentes approach may be too soft … ever seen a Saban coached team not get drilled personally when they make mistakes?

  4. According to many post on previous stories recruits come for all the fashion forward uniforms. So losing in the 757 when we had the most modern and cutest uniforms it’s not a big deal. An embarrassing lose won’t hurt new recruits we have modern fashion. However LSU is doing well with shoulder stripes. Duke who has the same school color stripes will be talking about our cute uniforms after they beat us. No point in spending more money on facilities and coaches. Just look modern and cute. Time to go back to looking and playing like a football team. Coach F is correct “Embarrassing”

  5. To me, this game was one big mental error. What really lacked was the leadership. I would love to have had Sam Rogers back for this game.

  6. My Poor Hokies!…Glad I went hiking at Mt Rogers yesterday…while I touched the highest point in Va there – our boys hit the lowest point out in Nor-fuk! Damn – right this ship and smack Duke…time for some boys to become men and fill their gaps and tackle and restrain themselves when it gets chippy. Offense should have scored 50 yesterday so we could have won 50-49…so they are not off the hook either. Get well fast JJ and RW and HH will step up!

    Was thinking about going to Puke – but not now – show something Hokies before ND comes to town! We kicked their ass in South Bend so you know they want a piece of ours in Lane – better start now to represent VT HOKIES everywhere!

    Go Hokies!

  7. I’m livid! This kind of crap should not happen. Laughing stock of the country, historic upset front page of ESPN.

    Just last week we were told, “This ODU team just doesn’t have much talent.” Didn’t look like that yesterday, although it would seem that way since they got destroyed, by liberty!

    Recruiting wise, would you go to a school that just got embarrassed nationally? I wouldn’t. We were also talking about how our coaches are “great talent evaluators.” Well they better be because this crippled our image.

    Winning a national championship is the ultimate goal. We will NEVER get there after embarrassments like this. Just pitiful!

    1. I agree with you and 1579. I feel like this is an anomaly with hurricane break,instate David and Goliath, no respect and 20k seat stadium affect. But it just isn’t that easy to get over “as a fan” when you dig into the optics of this and the statistics of ODUs 3 previous offensive outings. I agree that the team can get over it because they are constantly coached that way. We on the other hand must endure this in a different manner, through this message board community, other message boards (don’t go there), TV taking jabs at our team (which feels almost as bad a someone calling your daughter ugly to your face – yes I take it a little too hard sometimes) and our personal friends that may poke fun and enjoy VT losses especially one like this. ( I digress to the Seinfield pool episode ). So I think the team will get over it because it was an outlier (gotta fix the DB coverage issues though) But I don’t really think we will ever truly get over this – just past it over time

  8. The tears are finished. The team is 3 games in, the rookies should be gaining experience and this game has shown them what not to do. Keep a cool head, senseless Personal Fouls are for r-Fr not for Jr & Sr. Have passion, but keep the reasonable attitude.

    Mistakes were expected with a very young defense. Let us hope they got all their errors got out in this one game. I remember after JMU the team ran the table. It can happen again. Prove this is aberration.


  9. .
    The next game VT schedules with a Virginia team should be scheduled “at home” and should involve either New River Community College or Western Community College. Either of those 2 would draw the “home crowd” It absolutely should not be UVa @ Wise or JMU.

    Anyway, VT gained ESPN infamy by being the lead story on their College Football report. The giggles were barely suppressed.

  10. Who’s bright idea was it to stop the clock with two timeouts at the end of the 1st half? We must have wanted to give ODU an opportunity to score and take the momentum into the locker room at halftime.

  11. I don’t know where you “fans” get off on this being a teaching moment and congratulating ODU? For those of us who have been watching Tech football for 45 years and financially supporting this program this game was disgusting at best. The so called “teaching moment” should be for the coaching staff for NOT preparing this team for this game. They only had two weeks. Maybe they went to Disney with ECU for fun in the sun.

    We are the whipping boy on national TV on ESPN! What an embarrassment! They rarely show our highlights when we win but have many lowlights when we lose and to boot have the opposing coach interview.

    To be honest I didn’t think we looked all that great at FSU but I was encouraged. Now, my guess is our bowl streak will end this year. But what the heck – it will be another teaching moment.

    1. A lot of truth here. Guys…..i am going to say this a couple of times through out the year…..prepare yourselves…..we are going to lose our streak to UVA this year.

      I’m a die hard Hokie but I have been following this team and they have a Monster mobile BIG QB. if we can correct this ship against Duke….it is lights out against UVA who feels the EXACT same way against the Hokies……they are tired of losing and are tired of being sick and tired.

      UVA is coming for us. Will our coaches and our team be ready?

  12. Well next week will be the test. We’ll know if this season is still viable or will we start building for future years. Unfortunately, unlike MLB we can’t trade our older performers for potential better younger players. So the older players better try to get this team headed in a more positive direction or their final years will not be fondly remembered

  13. Hey, it’s college football. Strange things happen. In this case, ODU showcased some really good players. They seemed to be able to move the ball at will. Running back Jeremy Cox is a monster. They have some NFL quality receivers. How did this ODU team lose the last three games? Wow, just wow.

    1. They wouldn’t have beaten hardly any other 1A team yesterday..We were there and it was, as both Bud and Fu said, a totally embarrassing performance. Let’s not make them out to be Alabama. They are NOT..except against the Hokies. We made another team look like world-beaters!

      ODU played the game of their lives, but we STILL should have beaten them handily, except that we embarrassed ourselves in every part of the game. It WAS the most sickening loss we have ever suffered and it ECLIPSES JMU by a mile..we were beyond pitiful!

  14. We have all known for the last week or two of watching Florida State play that Tech was a bit of a Potemkin Village of a team. That said, I haven’t seen such poor defensive planning and execution since the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

    1. .
      Really, vahokiedog. Which coach(es) will lead the charge? Is Bud Foster trying to show the BOV who should have been picked as head coach? The lunch pail must have been stuffed with PB&B sandwiches.

  15. I think the worst thing about this loss is that is it negates most, if not all of our body of work to return to a reputable program on the national stage. Easy jump in ranking again after handling FSU, this past week with Rece’s top College Gameday spots. Lots of momentum in recruiting. This isn’t Miami getting thumped by LSU: it’s much worse and I fear the long-term effects. This is a tough pill to have to swallow.

    1. Yep. You said it. The coaches should have guarded us properly against this flop. They blew it…..again. May take 2 years+ to repair.

  16. I asked “Why?” when we scheduled this game. Let’s go play in a high school stadium a team that would rather beat us than eat, so we can better recruit 757? Yesterday we did a great job of recruiting 757 for Penn State, UNC, Maryland and UVA. I wouldn’t play ODU at all, but, if we have to, ODU comes to Blacksburg. No discussion.

    1. It shouldn’t matter AT ALL. VT should be ready to play any team at any stadium. That’s the thing that ruined being a fan, for me personally. I spent a lot of money to travel and see the Hokies play in a new (to me) stadium, and they show up like it was a boring practice during fall camp.

  17. It’s in the books. We lost. I’m happy for the kids at ODU. They played great. Most probably wished they were on VTs team. What a sweet victory for them.

    Some will say we will see what our squad is made of….We just watched it. The rankings got us feeling good and then we got punched in the face

    If we had double teamed #7 and only rushed 3 all game the result would have been win. Why we can’t make in game adjustments on defense is mind bending.

    Willis played well. We should have played hooker earlier. With a running QB we would have had 800 yards rushing.

    1. You hit the nail on the head! Why didn’t we give the corners some help over top. And I would have love to have seen Hooker in at QB – I think we could have run up a lot of yards and controlled the clock on them. I just didn’t see Bud making any adjustments – and that is normally his strength.

    2. One of Bud’s strengths has been in game adjustments but when you have 6-7 new players who’ve never HAD to adjust a game plan, well you saw what can happen

  18. We are the only school in FBS history – that’s all time, forever, folks – to have lost three games where we were favored by at least 28 points. Let that sink in. For this Hokie, that’s just as bad as UVa hoops losing to UMBC.

  19. I’m pretty sure we all knew this game was coming at some point this season. Hopefully this will be a great teaching tool, and we won’t see this version of the team again… before you jump ship, see how they respond next week. That will tell us what we really have… or don’t

    1. That’s all i have been saying, this game is a teaching moment. Sucks for us as fans and sucks even more for the team because they just got humbled in the most embarrassing way possible but that’s why we play the game. I’m like you I’m not jumping ship because I know this team is talented, they just didn’t played fired up and focused and it cost them.

  20. This looks like a 4-7 team. Horrible penalties, critical dropped passes, QB’s running for their lives, etc. Joke performance. We pay way too much money for this crap.

  21. Maybe this might force some coaches to focus on key players to play. Instead of playing 4-5 RBs, just play 2-3. Focus on the WRs who are reliable. Get the TEs involved more. Maybe the freshman OL are not the best players? Maybe some senior OL are not great. Maybe some of the young defenders aren’t ready to play. Win or lose with people are going to give you great effort, great technique and play with respect.

    1. That was the problem with ODU…nobody, including the coaches, were ready to play. They sleptwalked through the game until it was too late to fix it.

      Found out yesterday that our team, once again, has two identities. One that can show up, and another that can’t.

    2. What team in college football uses the tight ends to your liking? Even when VT had Jeff King, he was rarely called upon as a receiver. Do you feel like we have a game changer at that position?

      1. Stanford is a team that year after year produces NFL quality tight ends. They even kicked our but with one in the Orange Bowl.

  22. We got our butts whipped. It may have been the worst defensive performance that I have ever seen by a tech team. We could not tackle and got ran over. There were too many dropped passes on the other side of the ball that would have made a difference. The bad thing is Duke will do the same thing to us next week with a good qb and quality receivers when they watch the film on how to play us.

    1. Lack of tackling shows we didn’t give the effort or intensity our opponent had. That’s on the players and coaches but mostly the lack of internal focus and drive of the players

      1. RVance is right to feel this way. The team laid an egg, and they embarrassed their fan base. Let the him (and the rest of us for that matter) get their emotions out. At least he has some. This team had none on Saturday.

        1. I like your response. Most people will fight it but i like your response. There is an more than usual emotional investment it takes to be a Hokie fan. Agony comes every single year; you just don’t know what corner you will find it. Heck….the Atlanta Falcons are my pro version of the Hokies. Play calling, schemes, red zone impotency complexes, bipolar offensive and defensive identities at times… name it. So i find I must deal with some kind of underperforming agony either every Saturday or Sunday or both. It amazes me watching two programs and two fan bases go through the exact same issues EVERY year almost in the same sequence. It’s helped me come to terms with it all because I use to get some emotionally spent trying to cheer, show up, and almost suit up with the Hokies as every game was us against the world. I’m still a rabid fan but i Have learned to guard and temper expectations. One then I have learned watching, listening and being in the heart of SEC country…… those ELITE SEC teams win and Avoid meltdowns, Big game losses, and Underperformance games through tons of depth and Senior leadership (and Good ole fashion preparation and good coaching) Their 4 and 5 star recruits are WILLLING to seat on the bench and play for a team that just flat out wins without failure or excuse. Our kids want to jump for the pros early right now and make that cash (and often be short-term flames in the NFL due to lack of proper college preparation). Until that trend slows to a stop for Tech players and they truly 4year commit to achieving a championship for VaTech and the state of Virginia…..until our players take on ODU’s mantra that they are tired of embarassing themselves and losing games like this and losing national respect then thats when Tech will elevate to the next level and bigger and bigger BIG TIME recruits will come to Tech. Until then…..its perennial agony.

  23. Darn right embarrassing……players and coaches thought just being there was good enough for the win to happen. Atmosphere there sux, barely bigger than a high school stadium, even if we win it’s just a you are supposed to beat ODU, lay an egg and it’s biggest upset in NCAA in last ten years, so says the ESPN…..and we look like clowns. Was a long ride back home from Norfolk, rant over.

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