Virginia Tech Survives Furman 24-17

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“I know we won that, but it doesn’t feel like it.”

That was a comment uttered by a Virginia Tech fan while walking down the stairs at the south tower, and it echoed a popular sentiment shared by the 52,314 fans in attendance at Lane Stadium.

The Hokies (2-1) survived Furman’s (1-2) upset bid, coming back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to win 24-17. The word survived should never be used to describe a game against an FCS opponent, but that was the case on Saturday.

“I’m glad we don’t play anybody next week,” head coach Justin Fuente said during the postgame press conference. “Lots to work on… At halftime, I thought we responded.”

Self-inflicted miscues were the name of the game in the first half for Virginia Tech. There were three false starts, an illegal formation, plus a Tre Turner fumble and Ryan Willis interception that led to Furman’s two touchdown drives in the first half, one of which was extended by Jarrod Hewitt’s offsides penalty on fourth-and-1.

Tre Turner VIrginia Tech
This Tre Turner fumble was one of many costly mistakes for Virginia Tech that resulted in the Hokies trailing Furman 14-3 at half time. (Ivan Morozov)

The offense appeared inept in that first half because of those miscues, scoring just three points against the same defense that allowed 48 points last week to Georgia State, who finished 2-10 in 2018.

As the half was winding down, Brian Johnson trotted onto the field to attempt a 50-yard field goal attempt.

Doink.

The ball hit off the upright and dropped to the ground. As such, the play was a metaphor for Virginia Tech’s first half, encapsulating the dead mood that had drifted inside Lane Stadium.

It begged the question if whether or not a number of changes were going to be made following intermission.

“You play through all those ideas in your mind,” Fuente said. “I told the whole team at halftime… we have control over how this goes. We can hang our heads and sulk, or we can stand up and go compete and do our best to rectify what happened in the first half.”

The Hokies did come out more focused in the second half and forced a punt on the Paladins’ first drive. Then, freshman tailback Keshawn King asserted himself into the game, busting off runs of 15 and 54 yards on back-to-back carries.

Keshawn King Virginia Tech
Keshawn King sparked the Hokies early in the second half. (Jon Fleming)

“I told [the offensive line] to go hard, get to the second level, move the backers out the way, and they did exactly what I said,” King said. “It got the results… It obviously got the team going.”

King finished the game with 12 carries for 119 yards, becoming just the third 100-yard rusher for Virginia Tech in the last 16 games.

“That kid is a man,” Willis said. “He really gave us a spark in the second half.”

James Mitchell capped off the drive by finding pay dirt on a 3-yard jet sweep. Virginia Tech carried the ball on all six plays of the drive for 83 yards.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Chamarri Conner attacked running back Devin Wynn in the open field as Dax Hollifield punched the ball away, with Conner dragging Wynn to the ground. DaShawn Crawford recovered for the Hokies to continue the swing of momentum back in their favor.

Chamarri Conner (obscured) and Dax Hollifield (4) teamed up to force this Furman fumble. (Jon Fleming)

Conner played his best all-around game from the whip/nickel back position, finishing with eight tackles, a sack, and another quarterback hurry.

“I was kind of waiting for him to kind of come out of his shell a little bit… He came out of that today,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “It was good to see him have some success and be the playmaker that I know he can be.

“That’s what that position demands. When we’re really good on defense, our nickel position is a playmaking spot. You guys have seen that in the past, and that’s hopefully what he’s going to continue to do.”

Four plays later Willis connected with Turner for a 2-yard fade in the corner of the end zone to regain the lead, 17-14, for Virginia Tech in the third quarter.

Later in the fourth quarter, ‘Big Play Tre’ made his mark on the game again. After Willis took a crushing blow to the ribs and got the wind knocked out of him, Hendon Hooker entered the game and handed off to Turner on the jet sweep. The sophomore receiver bounced off a few tackles and stayed in bounds down the right sideline for the 29-yard touchdown with 5:04 left in the contest.

Tre Turner scores on a jet sweep (Ivan Morozov)

“The funny thing is coach just told me to get the first down,” Turner said. “When I got the first down, all I saw was green grass. I tried to just go get a touchdown. I wasn’t going to get tackled.”

Turner caught four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown, but made most of his mark on the ground, rushing five times for 68 yards and a touchdown. It was an impressive turnaround for Turner following his costly fumble in the first half.

“He was over there inconsolable after he fumbled like he let the whole world down,” Fuente said. “My concern is getting him built back up so he can play.

“We always want to get him involved in what we’re doing. You go over to him and tell him, ‘We’ve got to play the next play.’ I told him I’ve thrown a lot more interceptions than he has fumbled. He smiled… and went out there and played his tail off.”

Still, the Hokies couldn’t breathe easy just yet. Furman drove down the field and knocked in a 22-yard field goal to make it a one-score game. Lane Stadium then fell silent after the Paladins recovered the ensuing onside kick.

However, replay showed that Furman illegally blocked a Tech player before the ball traveled 10 yards. Hezekiah Grimsley recovered the ensuing re-kick, and Willis was able to run out the clock and enter a victory formation.

Virginia Tech now has 13 days between its next game when it welcomes Duke to Blacksburg for a Friday night duel on September 27.

Virginia Tech Notes

  • Ryan Willis finished 17-for-21 passing for 123 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He said postgame that he was aware of the scattered boos throughout the game. “I heard it,” Willis said. “It’s disappointing. We have a great fanbase. It just shows it means a lot to them. I’m going to do everything in my power to put the best product on the field as possible and do everything in my will to get wins for this team every week.”
  • Emmanuel Belmar had a particularly productive day from his defensive end spot with seven tackles and 1 ½ sacks. “He is one of those guys who has to play hard,” Foster said. “He’s not the most gifted guy we have on our defensive line, but he is a rugged, hard-nosed guy.”
  • Dax Hollifield led the team with 10 tackles on the day. He was candid about some of his early season struggles and where he’s headed now. “I’ve really been trying to find my rhythm lately,” Hollifield said. “I work real hard, and it upsets me when I don’t make the play… Lately I’ve been really trying to find what did I do to get me back to where I was. I’ve been struggling really since the beginning of fall camp. I feel like this past week I really found myself again.”

— hokiesports.com box score —

 

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66 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Well, it’s the day after. I sure we we had the edit/delete feature on the article Comments section 😊. I love our receiving corp!

  2. One of tech’s all time best seasons was 1995. The team was trying to make its way to be a consistent top 25 contender, We started out 0-2 with losses to Cincinnati and Boston College. Next game was against Miami, which at the time we had never beaten. All my buddies said “we arent going to the game, tech is terrible”. My wife and I went. We beat Miami for the first time. We rushed the field and got autographs from QB Jim Drunkenmiller and MLB George Delrico. We ran the table after that concluding with a victory over Texas in the Sugar Bowl on New Years Eve 1995 and Hokie Nation stormed the French Quarter. What a blast that season was. That’s what sports are all about. Turning things around and proving the nay sayers wrong. Im not ready to give up un these kids yet.

  3. Yikes.

    Well, on a positive note: this may be the record # of responses to a Cory writeup?

    I am looking ahead to dook and miami to get a better feel for this years team. I see potential, and flashes. I also see areas to tighten up. If they win both or split those 2 games the message board commentary should be entertaining. Lose both, and I think I will read a book instead. And get ready for the next game.

  4. NEVER EVER BOO A COLLEGE ATHLETE!! These kids are here because they love VT. Booing not only disrespects them but also the university. As Hokies, we are family so let’s behave like one!! Go Hokies

  5. The Hokies look like they are playing hard and things just aren’t going their way. Enjoy the season and be a fan.

  6. If you are under 30, then you have never known a bad season at VT. Last year was mediocre, not bad. Talk to those of us who have rooted for this team for 35+ years.

    No, I don’t like that we did not dominate ODU or Furman. Do I have opinions as to why? Certainly.

    Will being totally negative on this board or other help recruiting and the team? NO.

    PLEASE – If you are a Hokie Fan, don’t boo our players or say the things being said on this board. I can hear Mack Brown “boy, sure is a shame on how their fans have changed!”

    Let this play out for goodness sakes!

  7. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the coaches and the team but insulting each other is a true disappointment.

  8. Wow. A lot of negative vibrations here. I’m trying to be rational about the situation. VT lacks either experience or talent (or both). Not much improvement from game one to game three. Will be difficult to win seven games, beat UVA and make another bowl. Hey, even Wake Forest looks better than VT. Hope I’m wrong, but I think not.

  9. Something is not right. No fire in the sidelines. Effort is not consistent in my view. Yes, we are young. However, the VT passion is missing for some reason.

  10. Willis completes 81%, we. Have a 100 yard rusher, key defensive personnel step up, and we win the game. Even with it bring a good FCS team, that sounds like progress. You guys need to tone this garbage talk down… for sale sign on Fuentes yard, giving up on the season at 2-1, Fuente can’t coach. Time for the grownups to make s statement. Support the team thru good and bad. Does nobody recall that 2-9-1 season?

  11. These message boards are way too depressing. It’s apparent everyone is passionate about Hokie football, but calm down. Trust in the players, the coaches and the administration to do what they need to to be successful and we can do our jobs of supporting them on Saturdays in the stands! Or go watch the NFL and the bunch of overpaid crybabies that have no loyalty and go wherever they have the biggest paycheck or best chance of winning immediately.

  12. There definitely is concern with our FB program. I realize that we are young but that is not really an excuse any more. The offensive play calling is very vanilla and some of the player personnel line ups seem suspect. I really haven’t seen a Lunch Pail attitude on the D anytime in the past 2 years. It just doesn’t look like we are very physical in all phases of the game! Just my opinion as a laymen fan!

  13. If we get out of our own way, we can do some damage. Going into game, many wanted to see some indication of a running game. Check. Others wanted to see better tackling and penetration, sacks. Check.

    On to Dook!

  14. Best thing about this game was that it was a little over 3 hours long. It’s been some time that I’ve seen a game move along that fast.

    1. Yes, I am happy to still be in the race. We could have lost all 3 games. We knock of the turnovers and gain some confidence against Duke.

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