Disappointment in South Bend: Notre Dame 21, Virginia Tech 20

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Rayshard Ashby Virginia Tech
Last to leave: Rayshard Ashby, lunch pail in hand, departs the field after Notre Dame’s 21-20 win over Virginia Tech (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech has had its heart ripped out on numerous occasions over the years. Saturday night from South Bend added another one to the list.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book high-stepped into the end zone from seven yards out with 29 seconds remaining, and the ensuing extra point sunk the hopes of Hokies everywhere. Book’s game-winner capped off a 21-20 win for the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish (6-2) over Virginia Tech (5-3, 2-2 ACC). 

“We were one play away in all phases of the game,” head coach Justin Fuente said. “You keep putting yourself out there long enough in competitive environments, we’re junkies for that, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way. You fall short and it hurts.” 

The Hokies had Notre Dame on the ropes. Trailing 20-14, the Fighting Irish took over from their own 13-yard line with 3:22 remaining. One stop, one tipped pass leading to an interception, or one mishandled snap in the mixed precipitation and the Hokies would have pulled off the upset over the 17 ½ point favorites.

Instead, Book picked apart Virginia Tech’s defense with underneath passes, including conversions on fourth-and-3 and fourth-and-10, before sauntering inside the pylon untouched for the touchdown. Throughout the 18-play, 87-yard drive, Bud Foster continually dropped eight into coverage, and the Hokies were never able to get any pressure on Book, who finished 29-of-53 for 341 passing yards, three total touchdowns, and two interceptions.

TyJuan Garbutt Virginia Tech
TyJuan Garbutt and his Tech teammates didn’t register any sacks of Ian Book, who passed for 341 yards and led Notre Dame with 50 yards rushing (Ivan Morozov)

“We clearly didn’t bring any pressure,” Foster said. “We were concerned about the quarterback. We lost a couple guys in the back end. Some of that probably affects our pressure package a little bit. We worry about that guy scrambling and getting out when you bring some pressure. We had a couple opportunities on some fourth down plays and we didn’t get any fourth down stops when it’s all said and done. 

“I’m not going to sit up here and second guess myself. The kids played their tails off and I’m proud of them. I feel for them. I’ve been in three of these kinds of losses with Syracuse (1998) and BC (2007) and this game.”

Virginia Tech was outgained in total yardage 447-240, used a quarterback (Quincy Patterson) who was the third-stringer just two weeks ago, and still nearly snapped Notre Dame’s 15-game home winning streak. 

Patterson got the start in place of the banged up Hendon Hooker and went 9-of-28 passing for 139 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception on the final desperation play of the game. He added 77 rushing yards on 19 attempts.

“That was a tough one,” said Fuente on the decision to start Patterson over Hooker. “The bottom line is I couldn’t pull the trigger to put [Hooker] in. I just couldn’t. I’d gone back and forth with him. He didn’t take all the reps that he usually takes, but he practiced all week. He looked better and better every day.

“I couldn’t come to grips with putting a kid out there who’s played in two and a half games without the full complement of preparation time. If he’d been playing for two and a half years, I probably would have felt differently. I didn’t feel that it was in his best interest for his growth.”

Quincy Patterson (4) led Virginia Tech with 77 yards rushing, but only completed 9 of 28 passes for 139 yards. (Ivan Morozov)

The Hokies came into the game attempting to use a ground and pound gameplan to control the clock and play to the strengths of Patterson. However, it was no match for Notre Dame’s physical front. Six of the first seven drives resulted in three-and-outs. In the end, Virginia Tech ran the ball 36 times and only picked up 101 rushing yards (2.8 average). 

“They were not going to let us run the ball,” Fuente said. “They were stacked in there. I’m disappointed that we didn’t make more plays in the passing game. We didn’t create a lot of separation out there.”

Virginia Tech’s only offensive touchdown came late in the first quarter. Patterson connected with Damon Hazelton for an 8-yard touchdown on the third down back shoulder throw.

Leading 14-7, the Fighting Irish looked to put the finishing touches on the first half with a third-and-goal from the 1. Rayshard Ashby’s helmet met Jafar Armstrong in the backfield and popped the football out of his grasp. It landed right in Divine Deablo’s hands, and he returned it 98 yards for the 14-point swing and tying touchdown.

“That was obviously a big change in the game right there,” Foster said. “I just wish we would have held on in the end. That would have been one of the all-time great plays in Virginia Tech history.”

It was the type of play that swung all the momentum in favor of the Hokies. Ashby finished with a game-high 13 tackles. Deablo tallied five tackles of his own and intercepted a Book pass later in the game. 

The fumble return was the longest in Virginia Tech history since at least 1987 when official records began to be kept. It was a huge performance from the redshirt junior who missed last year’s game against Notre Dame with an ankle injury.

“I can’t say enough good things about Divine Deablo,” Fuente said. “In the day and age of ‘I’ and ‘me’ and all that kind of stuff, Divine is a ‘we’ guy… We cheer extra loud when he does well.”

“I love Divine Deablo, No. 1.,” Foster said. “What you see is what you get. Every day he’s got a smile on his face and he enjoys coming to work and compete.”

Early in the fourth quarter with Virginia Tech ahead 17-14, Patterson found Tre Turner on the biggest play of the game, a 50-yard pickup down to Notre Dame’s 12 on third-and-3. On the first two plays, Patterson tossed incompletions. The signal caller then rushed up the middle for five yards on a play that would have been helpful on first or second down. Brian Johnson was forced to come onto the field for a 25-yard field goal.

“They played two high safeties on third down and we felt like we had a better chance to run the ball into that,” Fuente said. “They played basically no high safeties on the first two downs and we couldn’t complete a pass into it.”

Virginia Tech returns to ACC play next Saturday at home against Wake Forest. The Hokies will be without cornerback Jermaine Waller for the first half after he was called for targeting in the fourth quarter.

Jermaine Waller Virginia Tech
Jermaine Waller was ejected for targeting on this play in the second half. (Ivan Morozov)

It opens the door for Armani Chatman to step into a bigger role in the secondary. Chatman entered the game and immediately intercepted Book’s pass on the next play, but it was called back for a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Eli Adams.

“I’m not going to say anything because I’ve gotten reprimanded before, and I’m not going to say anything now,” Foster said. “I think that’s a drive they did not score, but at the same time, we would have gotten a new possession, and we had momentum going. Who knows what would have happened then?”

Foster will be honored pregame next Saturday before Virginia Tech takes on the Demon Deacons. The Hokies control their destiny down the stretch in the ACC Coastal division with games against Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Virginia remaining.

“The big thing is we can’t let one affect another game,” Foster said. “We’re going to go dive into the conference schedule, the meat of it. We’re getting ready to play a tough Wake Forest team. We can’t let this game affect the next one. We can learn from it, grow from it.”

The game against No. 23 Wake Forest (7-1, 3-1 ACC) is at 3:30 and will be televised on ESPN2 or the ACC Network.

— hokiesports.com box score —

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59 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The Box score on ESPN gave Hollifield credit for 1 sack. Photo caption above say we didnt get any?
    We certainly made him uncomfortable until that last drive. I always recommend the blitz packages. We had nothing to loose and everything to gain. There was a good chance we were not going to get the ball back regardless so why not attack and maybe force a bad throw?

  2. Winning at ND is ridiculous. The refs were determined to enable victory for the most over-rated team year after year in the FBS. They struggle to beat an average VT football Team at home, but are considered to be a national contender. When they don’t have the refs on their side, they get beat down by Mich. NBC pays ND a ton of money, so who selects the refs anyhow. Check out the last TD, 4 holds on: VT 45, 34 and then escorted into the end zone by final holds on 22 and 23.🗝$

    1. Bud said he’d been reprimanded before for speaking out about the refs. it’s his last season..i just wish he would have said what he was thinking but there was simply no way ND was going to be allowed to tank on the NotreDame Broadcast Channel TV 2 weeks in a row. So ND got the help that they needed. VT fan or not, anyone watching this game would have seen it. It’s home cooking crap like this that causes some much disdain for ND. Yet we allowed ourselves to get in a position where a call or two makes all the difference.
      Like most here, I simply do not understand letting the ND QB sit back there on the final drive. It was clear throughout the day that when he was under pressure, he was generally ineffective and his first instinct was to run from the rush and throw the ball away. He was not accurate while moving. What really baffles me is there appeared to be no stunts, no effort to confuse or disrupt him at the end. Just rush 3 tired guys. Really disappointing – not the player’s effort, just how that drive unfolded. Just like Syr, BC, when we play NOT to lose, we lose. When we’ve gone for the throat, it’s paid off. The QB should have never been able to run that ball in for the TD – watch that play, it was a series of holds as you point out and a few guys out of position.
      Watch CJF shake hands with Kelly. CJF looked freaking angry. Like he could barely contain himself angry. It wasn’t disappointment. He knew this one got away from him – partially taken from him and partially perhaps let go.
      I’m ready to see Hooker return. QP carried a big load yesterday but he was very inconsistent and the fumble suggested to me that he was maybe a bit overwhelmed out there, especially in the first half. He fought his ass off but he didn’t appear ready for that game.

  3. My, the negativity is relentless here lately. The kids played hard on the road and the home team executed on the last drive against the odds. Yes, it was bitter, but this was a lunch pail game. I’m proud of the team and staff. Let’s go to work to beat the Demon Deacons.

  4. A great game as our young team played their tails off. Our BUD defense kept us in or leading game for a good portion of it while offence could not offer much against a top 15 team seeking redemption after last weeks demise at Michigan. Very proud of all Hokies(players & coaches) in this game. All HOKIES be proud of this team as they seemed to have righted the ship. Win the Coastal!

  5. Clearly the defense kept us in the game so cannot say too many bad things about coach foster and his coaching. Considering that he had to deal with youth, mediocre talent, injuries and questionable calls we did great to keep ND from scoring in the second half up until the last second (the QB run took everyone by surprise). That speaks VOLUMES of his coaching abilities! We lost because we could not score a TD in the second half in spite of coming close twice. I have no doubt that if Hooker would have played this game we would have won it easily!

  6. I am really proud of the Hokies and the way they have responded to the adversity this year. These kids have done so well especially after the debacle at Duke. I almost never post but there is one thing that is a disappointment: the “prevent defense”. I have seen so many writers, including the Tech Sideline staff, Bourbon Street and others point out that it is the one thing NOT to use in these tight games and yet it let us down again. This one was not on the kids so much as it is on Bud and the staff. As much respect as I have for Bud Foster this is the one area that has let the team down in so many of those close games over the years. Thanks for pointing out two of them (BC, etc.) but after putting the clamps down on ND and then to come out and use the prevent defense, it was one of the most dreaded things to see us do. I know that during the last drive he did use one blitz that I remember but did anyone else really see a reason to use the prevent defense? I sure did not, and as Cory points out in his article and even as Bud lamented, there was “no pressure” on the ND quarterback. What did he expect with 3 young defensive lineman against experienced ND offensive linemen. Another game of what could have been. Even with all this that happened, there still is progress, that is what is good to see. The kids fought and played hard and almost pulled off the upset. Look out Pitt, GT WF and especially the unmentionables from uva (I cannot capitalize them in any way). Still as always: GO HOKIES!!!

  7. Can TSL confirm if the safety rule was interpreted correctly? The player took a knee and was not tackled in the end zone. Does that make a difference? The commentators didn’t say anything but given their obvious and shameless bias it was not surprising.

    1. if he was tackled in the end zone, it would have an easy call for a safety. the point of contention here is the fact he was ruled to have caught the ball at the 1 yard line. while his momentum took him into the end zone, he was still on his feet. the ball was still live. he had every opportunity to take it back out of the end zone. he instead downed the ball in the end zone. that play should have been ruled either a safety or a touchback. it was neither. when divine deablo intercepted the ball earlier in the game, his momentum took him into the end zone, but he was already down (he dove). i hope tls addresses this on their podcast.

  8. Completely agree with NKhooch! I thought exactly the same thing. It would taken ND by surprise and even if one of the 2 FGs get converted into a TD it was game over. Why didn’t the coaches do that? I did not hear from FU that Hooker’s knee was not 100%. The only reason he gave was that Hooker did not have enough reps during the week. Really? That’s your reasoning? You would rather make QP starter with only O.5 game experience than Hooker with 3 games experience? If this is your logic than you are not very bright coach FU! Game tied at half time on the road against 16th rank team you have to go for the kill in the second half. Without that mentality we will never be top 10 team. No moral victories please!

    1. I feel you and your point is valid. I believe Fu is trying to save HH down for the ACC and the coastal run. ND was a house money game and since we were able to play with these guys and almost win it with essentially the third string guy allowed FU to play it safe. The only problem I have with FU regarding QP is that if going to play the kid, do noy put him in “straight jacket” regarding the playbook. Open it up some in the passing game to at least make the defense respect it so that it can open up the run game. Nevertheless, this ecpeience may pay off even later this season in the event that HH gets re-injured. Besides, Quincy is a Chicago product, so the chance for him to play close to home was big. To QP credit, he was not rattled at all but if we could have gotten maybe just an extra 3% productivity more out of him, we win the game.

  9. I was at the game yesterday, and was very proud of our kids. We did well to make this a competitive game and only lost by one point. We had a spirited group of Hokies at the stadium and we did our best to support the team. They’re getting better.

  10. It was a great game – Divine Diablo’s scoop-catch and score from the 2 was thrilling and honestly I think the biggest reason this was a competitive game. I was hoping for some wrinkles in the three man rush on the last drive, whether it be a blitzer or bringing a corner blitz and dropping the DT, etc. But I understand that we were down both our starting corners – so I understand max coverage approach. Bud’s way better at this than I am, so I trust his approach had the best chance for success. In the end, I did not expect us to win this game going in – I hoped we kept it competitive. It certainly was, and the loss does not hurt us in the Coastal race. QP got some great experience that will definitely pay benefits down the line. As the game went on, I saw some real improvements in his passing. So all in all, bummed that we didn’t win, but very happy with the progress of this team and optimistic for the rest of the season. This is a much better team than we saw against Duke!

  11. We still had 29 seconds and 2 time outs to get a FG. That should be been plenty of time for a well coached offense. We took two desperation shots and called it a night. Felt sorry for the players that give it their all.

    1. The leadership of the VT team really needs to be questioned in the outcome of this game. Most of the criticism, in my opinion, should be directed at Bud (I’ve mailed it in) Foster. How do you allow ND (which had looked very shaky all day on offense) to drive nearly the length of the field in the last few minutes without gambling (even a little bit) with defensive schemes? I’m yelling at the tv during that last drive as to why he’s not dialing up any stunts? Any blitzes? Let’s bring the house on 4th and 10! Can we disguise any coverages? Show them a different look? What the heck? Even if you gamble (just a little) and get burned for TD, you still have some time left and timeouts if you needed them to get in position for a game winning FG. I know it’s your last it’s your last season, Bud, but that gutless, spineless effort on your part should be called out. Maybe he should watch the tape of the UVA/UNC game last night. UNC had scored nearly at will every time it had the ball, until the last drive with the game (or at least tying the game) on the line. UVA’s defense threw the kitchen sink at them, got a stop and took a couple of knees for the win. The VT kids deserve better!

    1. Don’t agree we where lucky. We played ND very tough and ND was the one LUCKY to pull out the win. This is still a very young team no matter what some of you believe. They are getting better and I am very proud they had a chance to win instead of getting embarrassed in national TV on the NBC short for NotreDame broadcasting channel. Enough said.

      1. This! How fast we forget how many games BF has saved or won for the HOKIES during his career. The good news, based on this board, there’s a lot of people more qualified to fill BFs dc position so we should be set next year. Apply NOW, please!

        1. Totally agree — BUD FOSTER IS NOT MAILING IT IN. Get a grip people. He’s SOLELY responsible for the 10 win season streak when my son’s HS offense was better than Stiney’s. What short memories people have. Frank Beamer is in the HofF because of Bud. Period.
          Also, give ND credit for converting on 4th/3 and 4th/10. Players make plays. They did. I hate the ‘prevent D’ too and would have brought **some** pressure but I get it the argument on both sides. The other thing people need to come to grips with — ND doubled our offensive output. QP wasn’t an effective passer. Weren’t we 3-and-out on the first half dozen possessions?? Yes, we chewed some clock but that offense was pretty rough, pretty simple, pretty one-dimensional going against a talented ND D. Dang proud of that effort yesterday. Go Hokies!!!!

    2. HOaKIE
      If your really believe your analysis is correct, I have a bridge in South Bend I’m looking to sell at a really good price.

  12. I for one am proud of the team. They played with heart and toughness. Our Defense is getting better every week. I might have tried to blitz at least once, but I also know that when we did earlier in the game we couldn’t get there. Book is a below average passer, I think Bud was counting on him making a mistake.

  13. Proud of the team for almost pulling this off but the 3 man rush was a killer. Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Ironically if ND beats pressure and scored early, VT would have had time to try to score. Great effort up to the 3 man rush strategy. The kids played their tails off and deserved better.

  14. I know everyone is against RW, but why not give him a shot. At least we would of had a small hint of a passing game.

  15. Not going to be a “Sunday Morning Quarterback.” There are to many other quarterbacking on this article and the game.

    1. THIS! Can we all take a step back and think about how well this man knows defense AND his own personnel?!?!?!? Our front 4 (any of them) have a real hard time getting to the QB period, so considering you are in an obvious passing situation, I’m assuming he felt it a better move to have 8 in coverage and get no pass rush, than 7 in coverage AND GET NO PASS RUSH. Everybody needs to chill…..the old saying still remains true “it ain’t about the X’s and the O’s, it’s about the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s”. Our personnel isn’t what it used to be in spots…..D line is definitely one of those spots. Bud knows what the hell he’s doing, he just has Jerod Hewitt and a bunch of freshman trying to beat 4 and 5 star ND offensive lineman.

      1. You seem pretty adamant about your opinion and that’s fine. But respectfully remember that we was led to believe Bud knew what he was doing with Holifield. Yes Holifield has alot of heart but we all saw that his speed was too slow for the position he was put in and we were getting murdered on trying to stop our opponent’s interior run and intermediate passing game. Ontop of that we clearly had other players who were better but Bud swore his life on Holifield for an entire year. CoachBud or Coach Fuente eventually had to make a change there. That was a huge blindspot shown by Coach Bud. I love Coach but you have to call it like you see it. This staff is not perfect decision makers. Players did their part last night.

        Still. I am proud of the work and the fight this organization has finally shown us. And though I think getting beat on National TV by ND or Clemson is never good for our program optics during this delicate rebuilding period, I still hope the coaches and Hokies win out and get back to ACCCG. I believe for the right teams who are mentally ready, losing enough times to winners who are doing it right and better than you eventually lights a wick in your soul where a team says enough is enough and that team mentally throws a switch that It is done with losing and decides its willing to outclimb, out work and out perform any foe in it’s way until the ultimate trophy is won. Tech has gotten there yet.

  16. Poor coaching lost the game. Bud’s prevent defense only prevented us from winning. We did the same stuff in the Miami game and they almost came back and beat us. Give any QB no pressure and all day to pass and he is probably going to pick a team apart. I know we were limited at QB from a passing perspective but I think we could have been a little more creative – without being too risky – that’s on Fu & Corny. I’m very disappointed for a team that showed a lot of grit.

    1. Yeah. I have to agree. I know we had to scale back the playbook with Quincy but the Offensive plays were too vanilla and predictable. And for the life of me……send more than 3, 4 or 5bman rush. anything time during that last 2.5minutes and I would guarantee we sack Book way behind the sticks and put the comeback out of reach. If was bend but dont break lose small or lose big scenario. We weren’t going to avoid the need to gamble so why not take a chance and call a jail break blitz and see what it yields you? Uggh….we will never know.

  17. why was that not a safety? momentum took him into the end zone, but he had every opportunity to take it back out. that kid, instead, knelt down. live ball down in your own end zone is a safety, isn’t it?

    1. That is a good point about kneeling down versus getting tackled in that situation. Can TSL confirm if the rule was interpreted correctly? The commentators didn’t say anything but given their obvious and shameless bias it was not surprising.

  18. It was maddening watching the pre-vent for that entire last drive. ND knew it. Once they assumed (correctly) that the 3 tired DLs were all the pressure that was coming, it was game over.

    1. I was also nervous about the prevent. But, it almost worked. We had them in 4th down twice and it took them 18 plays. I would have liked a couple of surprise blitzes to try and get a couple of negative plays or hurried throws.

      1. One problem with the 3 man rush was that it was never disguised. ND coordinator, QB, lineman and receivers all knew pre-snap that they were going to have time to throw. VT could have at least put 4 or 5 up near the line and then dropped 2 back. Anything but play after play lining up 3 down linemen with everyone else already dropped back. Maddening.

  19. It was a great effort and the final score exceeded my expectations going into the game. But some of Fuente’s comments confuse me. He didn’t want to play Hooker because he only had 2.5 games of experience but didn’t have a full complement of practice. So, QP had a full complement of practice and that makes up for 0.5 game of experience? He also said they wouldn’t let us run the ball. Of course they wouldn’t, that was our only threat. Once he realized they wouldn’t let us run the ball and we couldn’t pass effectively With QP why not let Hooker play? I honestly thought a different QB would start the 2nd half but they were waiting so ND wouldn’t have half time to plan. Catch them off guard. Our offense was anemic first half. Had we been down at the half instead of getting the surprise TD maybe he would have changed things up. But, hey, we almost won. I like our chances of getting to 7 wins.

        1. Fuente did the RIGHT THING, by not playing Hooker if Hooker was not 100%. The next four games are critical and we need Hooker. Also we need two W’s for a Bowl and then the UVa game. Perkins’ stats atr UNC were a outstanding. He is all UVa has, the Cavs “D” is also good.

          Foster was really honest about the results of his 3-man rush. I clearly remember the games he mentioned. Bud has done so much, but a W yesterday would have been historical.

          Go Hokies… WAKE can really score and score alot.

          1. If we had beaten ND we would have only needed 1 more win to get a bowl bid. So I don’t follow saving Hooker for that. But,
            being cautious in hopes of winning the division makes some sense.

    1. Completely agree! I thought exactly the same thing. It would taken ND by surprise and even if one of the 2 FGs get converted into a TD it was game over. Why didn’t the coaches do that? I did not hear from FU that Hooker’s knee was not 100%. The only reason he gave was that Hooker did not have enough reps during the week. Really? That’s your reasoning? You would rather make QP starter with only O.5 game experience than Hooker with 3 games experience? If this is your logic than you are not very bright coach FU! Game tied at half time on the road against 16th rank team you have to go for the kill in the second half. Without that mentality we will never be top 10 team. No moral victories please!

    2. I’m hoping this was a Rhode Island type situation. Save Hooker and make sure he’s as healthy as possible for stretch run. Play calling was questionable but good points in the article about trying to take what they give you…just needed to connect some of those passes. Defense was bend don’t break all day and broke on the last drive but that’s kind of what it’s been all year. I’m hoping for more than just those 7 measly wins to get to a crappy bowl game. 4 game win streak to End the season where offense is efficient, defense plays like they yesterday and creates multiple turnovers. Still have everything to play for, loss to a ranked ND team this late in the year means nothing.

  20. Really proud of the players and coaches! Looking forward to seeing Hendon Hooker next week and our defense shuts down Wake Forest when we honor Bud Foster! Go Hokies and win the Costal and beat UVA!🏈🏈

    1. And we needed some pressure at Miami and for the two loses Bud mentioned we gave Matt Ryan and Donavan McNabb way too much time as well

  21. “Book’s game-winner capped off a 21-20 win for the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish (6-2) over Virginia Tech (6-2, 2-2 ACC).”

    Sorry, but VT’s record is now 5-3.

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