Virginia Tech Falls to Boston College After Missed Opportunities

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Blacksburg, VA — Another sputtering offensive performance in the second half. Another loss in front of the home fans at Lane Stadium. Another game chock-full of missed opportunities. Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2 ACC) fell apart after halftime and lost 31-21 to No. 22 Boston College (7-2, 4-1 ACC).

Virginia Tech has now scored 30 points or more just twice in its past 13 ACC games.

“Play calling has nothing to do with it,” head coach Justin Fuente said. “Play execution has 100 percent to do with it. That’s not taking it from the coaches to the players. It’s the coaches’ job to get the players and teach the players to execute.

“The guy calling the plays [offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen] is the same guy that in his very first year here set 10 school records. He still knows what he’s doing. The people out there have changed, and we have to do a better job.”

The Hokies led 14-7 heading into the locker room at halftime. Ryan Willis had just three incompletions, 212 passing yards, and two touchdowns. Still, there were a couple of blown chances at the end of the half.

Willis was successful on a fourth down conversion at Boston College’s 26-yard line on a QB sneak, but a Chris Cunningham personal foul moved the offense back. Three plays later the offense faced a fourth-and-inches again, but Lecitus Smith was flagged for a false start. The offense went for it on fourth-and-5, but did not convert with 2:08 in the first half.

A high snap by Zachariah Hoyt to backup quarterback Hendon Hooker from midfield and the subsequent fumble recovery by the Eagles also ended Virginia Tech’s next drive, and their final chance at a score before the end of the half.  Hooker was in the game because Willis was injured briefly, and had to leave the field for one play.

“There’s a couple opportunities that got away from us, absolutely,” Fuente said. “I still felt good that we were going to have more opportunities, but we know versus a good defense like that they may be limited.”

In the third quarter, it all came crashing down.

Virginia Tech’s five drives in the third quarter garnered 32 yards, three three-and-outs, and a costly interception inside their own 20-yard line. That interception led to a 22-yard touchdown from Boston College’s Anthony Brown to tight end Korab Idrizi to give the Eagles the 21-14 advantage. Brown finished 15-of-26 for 177 yards and a touchdown.

It was the second straight week that Virginia Tech’s offense had “the valve shut off” as Fuente put it against Georgia Tech. Last Thursday versus the Yellow Jackets, the Hokies scored three touchdowns on the first three possessions, then didn’t score again until garbage time in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve gone through some dry spells,” Fuente said. “Boston College made a decision maybe halfway through the second quarter and into the second half to stop blitzing, stop moving and play base defense. We came out in the second half and tried to run the ball and couldn’t.”

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Fuente is now 20-1 when leading at the half at Virginia Tech, losing for the first time on Saturday.

Faced with a fourth-and-2 from Virginia Tech’s own 49-yard line, Fuente took the gamble and Willis’ pass fell incomplete to the turf early in the fourth quarter. Boston College took over and marched down the field and scored on Travis Levy’s 1-yard plunge, taking a two-touchdown advantage with 8:51 left.

Virginia Tech couldn’t get the running game going against Boston College. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech finished with just 111 rushing yards on 36 carries (3.08 average).

“It’s like sugar and chocolate. Too much of one thing is bad for you,” Fuente said. “You have to have balance. In this game if you can only do one thing, they won’t let you do that for very long.”

The Hokies then drove down the field, and Willis connected with Tre Turner on a 14-yard touchdown in the corner of the endzone with 4:58 remaining in the fourth. Willis finished 25-of-42 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He also found Damon Hazelton and Eric Kumah for touchdowns in the first half.

Needing a defensive stop down 28-21, Boston College engineered a scoring drive, converting on a 28-yard field goal, and iced the game with 2:31 in the fourth.

The defense was depleted from the start with Jarrod Hewitt, Dylan Rivers, Rayshard Ashby, and Khalil Ladler all out to start the game. Bryce Watts also fractured his arm in the first quarter. In particular, Rico Kearney and Dax Hollifield made their presence known starting for the first time in their respective linebacker spots. Kearney tallied a game-high 18 tackles, and Hollifield collected 10 tackles.

“I saw some of the stats, and he [Kearney] was all over the place,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “That does not surprise me. Rico is a guy that has a lot of abilities. He had a great week of practice. It’s really important to him.

“Dax has so much energy. He’s one of those guys who is going to make people around him better. He’s got so much energy, people might initially look at him and think he’s phony because he is such an all-in guy. It’s real and I love it.”

Virginia Tech has now lost three straight games in Lane Stadium for the first time in the same season since 1992. With the Hokies only win at home against FCS William & Mary, it’s been 351 days since Virginia Tech has beaten an FBS team from Lane.

The Hokies will have to win two of its final three games (or schedule a final game) to keep the bowl streak alive.

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about the bowl streak too much,” tight end Dalton Keene said. “We’re moving on to Pitt now. I leave that to the coaches to worry about.”

Some of the older guys on the team have been through the pressure before to win games down the stretch in order to extend the streak, most notably in Beamer’s final year in 2015 when the Hokies won three of their final four games to finish the regular season 6-6.

“I know one thing I learned [during the 2015 season] was to beat UVA,” Defensive tackle Ricky Walker said. “We didn’t really talk about the bowl streak, but it just ended up happening.”

— box score —

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37 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The defense was overwhelmed with the BC size and execution in the first quarter but they got their legs underneath them in the second quarter. Obviously can’t get only 32 yards on four combined possessions in the 3rd quarter and keep putting the young and depleted defense back out there so quickly. Incredible effort by Rico.

  2. OF COURSE IT’S EXECUTION. If all 11 players executed every play as it’s drawn up, you’d score 80 points a game. Really tired of hearing this. You’ve now got eight games under your belt, coach. Why not try a little introspection and see how you and your staff can do things better?

  3. I was happy with the defense. After GT I didn’t think we could stop anyone.
    Regarding Ryan getting the wind knocked out, if he could have played, then I expected to see Herndon spike the ball and get Ryan back in. It was first down and it still would have given us about 16 seconds.

  4. There were questionable calls (going for it on 4th and 5 instead of trying the field goal; getting called for bumping the kicker etc), but more than anything I saw a very young and inexperienced team. Hard to imagine we win 2 of the next 3, so screw the bowl streak thing. Concentrate on UVA and look to next year and the year after for a real assessment of the program.

  5. The problem with Fuente’s argument is that if the players aren’t executing THE COACHES AREN’T TEACHING WELL ENOUGH. I see school after school each week putting up ridiculous offensive numbers. Are VT’s players the only ones that can’t execute?? Betting the overs every week when two teams in the top 60 in offense play is like fishing from a barrel. Scoring has never been better with the targeting rules, defensive players are much less aggressive.

  6. This year, I’ve been thinking that Willie Taggart (or his O-coordinator) was the worst play caller in the ACC, forcing the run over and over on early dawns when it clearly can’t work with F$U’s impotent offensive line. The Criminoles have had success airing it out when the clock is winding down near the half or end of game, yet Taggart is 100% committed to “establishing” the run early, and all it has done is established a terrible win-loss record.

    Corny (and Fu) are challenging for that coveted title of worst play schemers/callers now, in my mind.

    1. You must be high or drunk. Did you like the play calls when we took the lead 14-7 and had 1st down at their 21 before we had a 4th yr player make a boneheaded play

  7. I really liked Kearney and Dax at linebackers. 18 & 10 tackles is good lb play. That is only positive I can take from this game. The offensive play calling was horrible in the second half. Tired of hearing the excuses for Corny. The offense needs to improve or we go 0-3 in last three games.

  8. These are coach FU. Recruit s so it’s his fault they are not excruciating well. I see no reason for secret practices as our offense has not shown anything except a basis offense and we need to step up

    1. The oldest of coach Fu’s high school recruits have at most two years in the system. “His” first class was hanging onto Beamer’s commits and finding a QB who could help us.

  9. Beamer always mentioned lack of execution after losses as well. Funny we are starting to hear it now too. Frankly this team is young, inexperienced, and just weaker in many spots than our competition.

    1. Agree. The D is r-So, So and r-Fr and a few Fr for the most part. Ricky & Vinny are about it for upper classmen. The Edmonds and Settle left early, do you think the D would be better with those 3; uh yes. But we don’t have them and some of the young guys are coming around, but it does take time. It is painful to watch, but I’m still cheering until 00:00 is on the clock.

      The O is looking better but sputters too much. There are some good to great looking WR that are hitting their stride, but need to the running game to improve so they don’t key on the QB and play man on the WR. Peoples at times looks like a beast; loved him on the pitch out and catching in open space. But need some nice consistent 4-7 yard runs off tackle and such.

      GO HOKIES, skin the panthers!!!

  10. Did not get to watch the game but you can throw to open up the run, if you are having success throwing it.

    Did BC shut down the passing game as well as our running game or did we pull a reverse Kansas OB?

    Branden Ore 23 116 5.0 1 14
    Kenny Lewis Jr 4 22 5.5 0 9

  11. Captain Obvious here… Until Hokies can get some consistent run blocking up front, O will remain one-dimensional and it’s not likely anymore W’s come this season unless Ryan throws another Duke type game performance! Rushing numbers speak for themselves:
    FSU: 112yds
    W&M: 305yds
    ODU: 318yds
    Duke: 81yds
    ND: 132yds
    UNC: 154yds
    GT: 122 yds
    BC: 111yds

    Turrible, just turrible, absolutely turrible!

    1. There was a lot of optimism about our offensive line this year. One comment said it might be one of the best we have ever had. What happened? I’ve seen many ask this question but haven’t seen an answer from this site. If I missed it please let me know which article. If it hasnt I would appreciate some comments on that.

  12. My 7 year old summed up the game best during the 3rd quarter; “daddy, we pass the ball well, but don’t run well. Why do we keep running the ball?” He did get on the Jumbotron, so game was fun for him.

  13. Well said by others. I don’t care if Wilis has to chuck it 75 times (he might). Pitchers in baseball routinely throw 100 pitches at 90+ mph, every 5 (not 7) days. So his arm won’t fall off, I promise. Repeat after me: WE. CANNOT. RUN. The line just doesn’t have it. Frankly, this is just bonehead/stubborn play calling.

    1. We can run if we continue to do jet sweeps and misdirection. We simply do not have talented rbs. Peoples is a great cha ge of pace bqck, and he is out performing his abilities…but McClease looked to be the guy early in the season, and now he barely plays. Wheatley had one awesome game…and he may get one touch a game. Savoy was really good at jet sweeps last yr, Turner has speed, Grimsley can do that as well. I just don’t get how we come out so inventive early in the game…and then we want to “establish the run” and that always means basic handoffs from the shotgun. Fuente can say it is not the playcalls, but this offense had no problem first half two gms in a row when we were creative. We hit the basic button 2nd half and then blame the players…but we all know our limitations. We do ot have the personnel or scheme to run it down people’s throats and say stop us

    2. I absolutely agree. I think if you think of a coach you like. Pro or college. That is exactly what he would do with this offense. Play to the strength of the offense. Pass five times for every run

  14. No offense coach, but play calling has 100% to do with it. If you KNOW your OL is made of cream puff sauce, u don’t run it up the middle on first down three consecutive drives to start the second half.

    Especially when the quick throws were working all first half. It amazes me how we don’t continue to call the plays that work until the opposing D proves they can stop it. Instead Corny outthinks hinself week after week.

    1. I agree, sounds like [email protected]$3.25m is getting a bit defensive. Any time you blame the players that is a very bad sign. Clearly, everyone who has ever watched a few good football teams, knows when the play calling is awry…

      The first step in improvement is the admission that we got it wrong, Coach…

  15. I am getting tired of Fuente’s execution excuse. They have to go with what was working not try and force balance when it is obvious that an offensive line starting 2 freshman and 1 sophomore wasn’t going to be able to consistently open holes for them to have balance. Cornelsen called that game in 2nd half not to lose. It is time for them to take Will’s advice and throw caution to the wind. Also quit with the BS that they won’t get many chances. They way they are calling plays guarantees that they won’t have many chances

  16. We all knew that it was a rebuilding year. The team played hard, but were just short-handed and over-matched. Go Hokies.

    1. Yes, between guys leaving early, kicking bad apples off the team and injuries, this is a definite rebuilding year. But they play hard and will get much better as they gain experience.

    2. Sorry. That was a very winnable game at home. A few coaches and a couple of players let down a lot of young players playing hard. Go up two scores and win.

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