Turnovers Doom Hokies in Chestnut Hill, 35-28

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Virginia Tech Boston College Scoring Summary

In season opening wins over West Virginia and Florida State the past two seasons, Virginia Tech played turnover-free football on the path to victory. The same could not be said on Saturday.

In front of 35,213 at Alumni Stadium, Boston College (1-0) defeated the Hokies (0-1) 35-28 as Virginia Tech coughed up the ball five times in the losing effort.

“It was tough for our guys to battle back and scratch and claw all the way through and come up short,” Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said. “Lord knows we made plenty of mistakes out of there today.”

Trailing 7-0, the Hokies got on the board in the first quarter after Ryan Willis connected with Hezekiah Grimsley for a 55-yard touchdown bomb. Two drives later, Willis found Tayvion Robinson in a tight window for a 20-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.

Tayvion Robinson Virginia Tech
Tayvion Robinson scored his first career TD in the second quarter. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

The Eagles immediately responded and tied the game on a 17-yard rush by BC tailback AJ Dillon after the Hokies initially had him stuffed in the backfield.

Following that possession is when the turnovers began to pile up for Virginia Tech, leading to disastrous results.

Faced with a third-and-7, Willis attempted to sidestep an oncoming rusher and was instead stripped by Tate Haynes as Boston College recovered at Virginia Tech’s 17-yard line. Three plays later, Anthony Brown found Kobay White on a fade in the end zone for the touchdown.

Later in the second quarter, the punt return woes from 2018 returned as Grimsley muffed a punt and Boston College recovered inside the Hokies’ 30. Brown again found paydirt, this time on the ground with a 28-yard keeper to extend the Eagles’ advantage to 28-14 with 2:08 remaining in the half.

Brown was outstanding in the first half, passing for 258 yards and two touchdowns plus the one on the ground. He finished the game 15-for-26 with 275 yards.

The Hokies drove down the field, attempting to make it a one-score game going into the locker room, but Willis forced it to James Mitchell and was intercepted in the endzone by Joseph Sparacio.

“I need to take care of the ball better,” Willis said. “There’s a couple of reads that I can make better. I had some tough looks here and there. The first one, they showed us a little 3. I tried to hit a seam, and the outside linebacker made a good play. He rolled, and I thought he was going to fall off, and he made a good play.”

Bud Foster and Co. made several adjustments in the second half and didn’t allow a net yard in the third quarter.

“You saw how we played in the second half, and that’s kind of how I was hoping we’d play the entire game,” Foster said. “… we settled down in the second half and that gives you some hope. I told them we can’t be a 30-minute football team. We have to be a 60 minute football team.”

Still, early in the third quarter, Willis threw a pass into double coverage toward Phil Patterson that was intercepted in the endzone by Bryce Sebastian, when Grimsley was streaking wide open down the middle on the play.

After Willis found Mitchell for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-21 with 3:09 to go in the third, Boston College went three-and-out for the third straight time in the quarter.

However, the fifth and final turnover of the game eliminated a valuable opportunity to tie the game early in the fourth. Willis tried to slip a screen pass to Deshawn McClease, but defensive lineman Tanner Karafa drifted back into the passing lane for the pick.

“We’ve got to be better than that,” Fuente said. “We need to have our eyes in the right spot playing quarterback. Obviously forced some balls in there at some times that weren’t good. Ryan knows that. I still believe Ryan can make plays and take care of the football.”

Late in the fourth quarter, the power running game wore down Virginia Tech’s defense. The Eagles ran the ball nine straight times for 56 yards, capped off by a David Bailey 1-yard plunge, growing the lead to 35-21 with under eight minutes to play.

Willis led a late touchdown drive, tossing an 11-yard strike to Kaleb Smith, but after a failed onside kick attempt, and Dillon gashing the defense on third-and-9 with under two minutes left, the game was wrapped up. The Overland Park, Kansas native finished 29-for-47 with four touchdowns and three interceptions for the Hokies.

Limiting costly mistakes is a simple recipe for winning football. Virginia Tech failed to do so as the five turnovers were the difference in the loss. Two of those turnovers led to 14 points for Boston College, and two more prevented 14 points from being put up on the board by the Hokies

“You can maybe survive one or two of those, but not however many we ended up having,” Fuente said. “That’s a part of playing good people. They’re going to make you pay for those things.”

Virginia Tech will look to regroup next Saturday by returning home to face Old Dominion at noon. It also offers a chance for the Hokies to avenge last year’s shocking loss to the Monarchs, while also welcoming some familiar faces in Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham, both of whom now play for ODU, back to Lane Stadium.

— hokiesports.com box score —

Virginia Tech Notes and Loose Ends

Much of the talk prior to the game revolved around how Virginia Tech’s defense would fare against Boston College and the vaunted ground attack. The Hokies kept Dillon in check for the most part, as the junior rushed for 81 yards on 23 carries (3.5 ypc) and just one touchdown.

Over the course of the game, Foster’s unit allowed just 3.3 yards per carry, but that final 11-yard rush on third-and-9 will eat away at the defensive coordinator over the next few days.

“They ran what we call ‘power solid.’ All we have to do is gap fit, and I promise you there is a guy that ran out of his gap,” Foster said. “That’s where we’ve got to be consistent. You can do it nine times out of 10 at this level of football. That one play at this level can beat you.”

Early on, it looked like much of the same from last year on defense, as there was a non-existent pass rush and cornerbacks were continually getting beat on deep balls, particularly to speedy freshman Zay Flowers.

In the second half, the Lunch Pail Defense bared down and allowed just seven points and 76 yards. Jermaine Waller even added the first interception of his career on an Eagles’ trick play. The improvement from the defense is an area to monitor in the coming weeks.

The rushing game for Virginia Tech didn’t have much to offer. The Hokies rushed 42 times for 98 yards (2.3 avg.) as true freshman Keshawn King led the way with 10 carries for 33 yards.

One of the bigger developments of the game was Damon Hazelton’s absence. Hazelton dressed, but Fuente said he didn’t play because of a hamstring injury.

In his absence, redshirt freshman and former walk-on Kaleb Smith and true freshman Tayvion Robinson supplied threats on the outside. Smith ended the game with four catches for 62 yards and a nifty touchdown catch, while Robinson collected six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

[Kaleb Smith] has been an incredible worker,” Fuente said. “He’s still learning the craft, he’s still working on some technique, but it was good to see him out there have some success today because he has been out there every day busting his tail to try to get better.”

There were a number of injuries throughout the game for Virginia Tech. Tyree Rodgers, TyJuan Garbutt, Jovonn Quillen, Jalen Holston, and Zachariah Hoyt all sustained injuries and did not return to the game. Divine Deablo returned after coming up gimpy early on and Tre Turner appeared to be battling cramps in the second half.

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46 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. “The improvement from the defense is an area to monitor in the coming weeks.”

    LOL. ODU and Furman will really get after you. (sniff)

  2. Very disappointed in the QB play and Offensive Line play; BC lost a lot of starters but still seemed to have players there when it counted. Not a tough road game with 35K in the stands.

    Why can’t we recruit a running back that weighs 225-230 plus; BC has 2 great backs;
    And BC also got a little more conservative in the 2nd half playing w the lead; That made our D look a little bit better!

    No pass rush whatsoever and VT made an average QB look like a hero with 258 passing yds in the first half; I believe we will win 6 games to keep the bowl streak intact but reality will sit in when the Hoos play us because they are for real with a dynamic QB

    Sorry to say but we have regressed and they have definitely progressed !!

    Sad to lose to a very average BC team; So much for having a QB (Sr) that knows how to take care of the ball and limit mistakes. I don’t know of a team that can win if you have 5 TOs;

    And watch out for UNC as those guys are flying around

    Go Hokies!

  3. It’s hard to believe, that after all the writings of how FU puts a lot of work on ball protection and QB knowledge; we are regressing in those very same areas.

  4. I was there and locked in watching our corners after hearing all about how they’ve improved etc.

    I didn’t see any physical play or anything that made me think it will show up. All I saw was tentativeness. What causes that? The athlete or the scheme. Either way…we have a lot of work to do.

    I’ll be there on Saturday, because that’s what we do. We support our Hokies!

  5. Couldn’t help but wonder that with the “county’s best set of WRs” and a “QB with a great arm” why Hokies didn’t go long for many more plays. With two weaker teams and a bye coming up, hokies might be able to get one of the freshmen QBs ready to step in. Thought the team played tired an unexpired especially after watching Georgia State just plain whip up on the UT Vols.

  6. We lost, I get it, save the negativity, but objectively, as for offensive output:
    442 ypg: 59th in the country
    8-18: 44% 3rd conversion
    3-3: 100% 4th conversion (3rd and 4th combined is 12-21, 57% of series extended)
    4-20 penalties
    34 min TOP (vs 26 min)
    47/42 pass/run, 89 plays run

    These are solid numbers and this is a better offensive output under Fu. Each unit had flashes in this game but weren’t ready for prime time execution wise. There are issues, no doubt but, the O numbers aren’t terrible. Ease off the pitchforks and torches, give it until the Duke game to see the true measure of the improvement for this team vs last year. We’ve been a work in progress before.

    1. On the 3rd/4th down plays, assuming the stats above are right (8/18 on 3rd down and 3/3 on 4th down), I would say that we were 11/18 (61%) at continuing drives, which is even better than the 57% mentioned above. The three fourth down conversions would have followed failed third downs, so we shouldn’t add the 18 total third and three total fourth downs, I don’t think. Otherwise, good points. Thanks.

  7. Going back to the bowl loss to Oklahoma State at the end of 2017, this program is now 6-9 over its last 15 games. That’s not my opinion, it’s a fact. I don’t want to go right into sky-is-falling mode but things have been trending the wrong way for a while. Fully in “hope for best but expecting the worst” mode now.

    1. You are just saying what is now a trend. A troubling one. And the injuries, transfers, recruiting issues all seem to be going south.

  8. It’s one game in and the 2019 season is already starting to get old.
    It’s not the loss to BC……..It’s the performance that led to the loss.
    It is not a lack of desire to win……..It is a lack of execution that would give this team a chance to win.
    BC played to win, and did………VT might have had a chance to win, if they had not beat themselves.
    the DB performance was like “da’ja vous, all over again”………bad coverage, bad tackling
    This coaching staff needs to re-access their performance levels to make this team competitive..
    This is not VT Football as it was known for 20+ yrs……..It’s frustrating to watch these performances..

    1. Your last point about the DB’s is way off base. The BC QB made some tremendous throws into tight coverage. There were a couple of busted coverages, but that is going to happen. If you can’t see that the D was light years ahead of last year, then we weren’t watching the same game.

      1. Not denying there were some positive moments on D. Most every game will have some. But if you think “the D was light years ahead of last year” then you may be from another galaxy.
        The bottom line is the Hokies lost a game that they certainly could have won if they were ready to compete. They were not ready for BC on Saturday. It did not take long for one to realize that one team showed up prepared and one team just showed up. We beat ourselves first and then, to add to the pain, BC beat us again. Hopefully CFJ and crew will Coach-up the “good guys” this week so we can dispose the Monarch Monsters

      2. I have to agree with with NCNJ HOKIE. I purposely have watched and rewatched the film…the easiest examples to see were the two touchdowns by the FRESHMEN Flowers and the touchdown by White.

        7-0 BC strikes 1st
        Flowers gets off the L.O.S untouched. Jquillen even walks up and gets “in his face” at 5yards apart as if to intimidate and suggest he going to jam him at the line but as soon as the ball is snapped, Flowers a quick 2step, blows by the opposite direction untouched and Quillen is looking at the back of his Jersey securing the football into endzone. JQ got burnt easy by a FRESHMEN.

        7-0 BC at 9:40 in the 1st
        Caleb Farley#3 in 10 yards off White and loses containment during a flush out on BCs QB. I think it’s a play call for White the whole time because Farley gives White too much space. It’s a 60yard catch by White with Farley trailing the entire way. Thankfully the defense forces a Field Goal kick which BC misses.

        7-7 BC at 4:40 in the 1st & Driving
        Flowers is all alone catching a 45yard catch by blowing past Jermaine Waller. AGAIN, our players look confused on the left side of play. Jermaine is paying attention and looking left. Waller is 2yards off White showing face press technique. He then backs off 2yards and resets 4yards off of White at the 20. Waller knows its pass and as soon as the ball is snapped it’s a foot race that Waller cant keep up. Waller should have stayed with the man press and jammed White to at least bump him off the timing with the BC QB. Thankfully the defense bows up several plays later and forces a 4th down stop

        21-14 BC
        White to the endzone. Look at Jermaine Wallers technique. He is within 5yards of his opponent. White does a sick but simpe standard double step fake to get Waller going left and then crosses back over to Wallers right leaving Waller in the dust to the endzone. That was a pretty move back White but if Waller is going to use face technique then at least put hands on him and jam him once.

        28-14 BC Almost at homerun TD catch (after Grimsely muffpunt)
        What happen during this sequence? It’s a blown coverage by Caleb Farley. Now mind you this is the 1st play after a sudden change event…..smart football people and smart players should immediately know what’s coming next…..you hit your opponent with the home run BigPlay. But Tech is not ready. Caleb is signaling and talking to DBs on the right side of field 10yards off of White. The ball is snapped and Caleb is never ready. White blows right by for a perfect TD catch but thankfully Rover Reggie Floyd sees the confusion and flies all the way from the long side of the field to strike White at the pylon before he can secure the football killing a perfect pass. It delays the inevitable b/c on the next play Anthony Brown runs until uutouched into the endzone.

        From there it’s all power running. The VT Dbs had been abused and victimized. No need for BC to use receivers anymore and put it in the air. The ariel damage was done.

        1. Quick correction……
          7-7 BC at 4:40 involves Flowers and Waller. I accidentally
          mention White 3 times instead of Flowers. Take your pick, they both were burning us.

  9. Some of you so called Hokie fans need to relax! Beamer’s last years of recruiting hurt us and the offensive staff was light-years from Fuente’s staff. With those turnover we would have lost by 21 points back then. WE ARE STILL A YOUNG FOOTBALL TEAM. we will win 8 or 9 games this year. BC is not in the coastal. Lets enjoy watching this group develop! I don’t like Cornelson’s lack of power running game but that’s my ONLY concern.
    #GoHokies. Lets show up and support these kids for ODU game

    1. They have our support or we would not be here. With that said, If they can’t beat ODU without our support, they don’t deserve our support.

    2. Disagree. This is no longer Beamer’s team at all. It is Fuente’s team now. In year four, close to all of the roster is a result of his recruiting and coaching. So, whatever the results, it sits squarely with him and his staff. Most of these kids have been at VT for a good while, long enough to expect better team on-field results than how this first game rolled out. There were fundamental mistakes all over the place. If nothing else, this game should have been a preview of how the raw kids (and veterans) of last year have progressed. Instead, we got 5 turnovers, 4 penalties and enough missed tackles for 2 games. I’m a big Hokies fan and wish that things were like they once were, but they’re not. This is CJF’s team and in year 4 we should expect to see the beginnings of a turn around. So far, in simple terms and measurements, it’s not there. Hope it comes around soon!

      RE: Your BC comment
      You’re right, BC is not in the Coastal, but your comment seems to infer that their win / our loss has no relevance in the Coastal standings. In fact, any win or loss to another ACC member school will in-deed be counted as part of the division W-L record and therefore will affect the division standings.

      1. He’s right when he says its still a young team. Last year was the first year Fuente’s recruits were hitting the field, mostly as freshmen and rs freshmen, ahead of schedule. We can’t judge them accurately or his recruiting until we can see what they do as juniors and seniors, still two years away.

    3. I’m not knee jerking. Our O-Line didn’t run block basically at all! The pass protection was below average. Willis does Not go thru is reps and locks down on only his primary receiver. Offensive playing calling is lacking. Our pass rush is below average. I realize that the turn overs are really bad but our overall lack of execution on the D and O from both the players and coaches for the most part were really showing! We did not play with toughness and completely No Swag! To many coaches excuses! If you talk the talk you better know how to walk the walk!

    4. Good post. With 5 TO’s we were still in the game late in the 4th quarter, and lose by one score. We win that game without all the turnovers. We won’t have 5 furnovers every game. I don’t know about winning 8 or 9 games, but I think we will see improvement this year.

      1. …and another thing 😀 we are all on the same side her but FU picked his starting QB so yeah FU owns this. Can FU excel with his own players when he doesn’t have an NFL QB? I don’t know but this is what we are worried about.

    1. Our Team didn’t look ready. Some players even regressed from last year. These are Fu’s guys now and supposedly the bad apples are gone … what will be the excuse now?

  10. A really good team effort wasted by mistakes and turnovers. Also, wasn’t the offensive line supposed to be improved this year and not be “offensive”? RW was running for his life much of the game and the rushing attack < 100 yards. Getting much more difficult to believe in this coaching staff!!

    1. OL play WILL be better but takes longest to get going. Also, not having Hoffman was an issue. All our best OL are Fr and Soph. People don’t want to hear it, but this team is still relatively young and still growing

      1. True but we are looking for improvement and to be pleasantly surprised by areas we all are concerned about exceeding expectations. We instead saw regression that is the concern. We are worried this staff can’t improve this team after looking so bad against this “power house” on Saturday

  11. Coulda, woulda, shoulda…again. It is becoming the only thing that is consistent with our program right now. That, and that fact that we can’t field punts.

    I love the Hokies, and I will watch every game, but I am concerned about the seemingly endless injuries and lack of mental toughness.

    1. Where have I heard this story before? D going to be ok and worried about the O. Good thing we brought in a O talented coach and we still have our strong D coach for the future …. oh crap

      1. I too think we have seen this film and heard that posi-coach talk before. After the season we had last year… why weren’t we more prepared for this opener? We are going to see this all year long I’m afraid:

        Linebacker play is too slow- sorry Dax.
        Players still overpursue & miss tackles.
        Corners fail to at least jam defender at L.O.S
        Suddenly QB has become Riverboat Ryan.
        Offensive line & RB play is still subpar.
        Head coach & OC need to burn the screen play….we arent fooling anyone.

        1. True on same #’s and TV announcers made same mistake. You would think announcers and statisticians would be prepared enough to not blow something as basic and obvious as that. One of the first things in prep would be to familiarize yourself with the roster and any special situations(i.e. dual number situations)

          1. I don’t know if it was Herzlich or the other guy, but that was ‘D’ team on announcing. They were making mistakes left and right, not just roster calls, but basic penalty updates. But you’re right, you have to be ready. IT’S YOUR JOB!!! As far as the Hokies, be better next week.

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