Best Offensive Outing Of The Season Helps Virginia Tech Trounce Duke

Raheem Blackshear had two touchdowns in Virginia Tech’s win over Duke on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

After posting its worst performance of the year on Friday, Nov. 5 at Boston College, Virginia Tech did a 180 against Duke in its final home game of the season, winning 48-17.

“It was a special day for those seniors,” Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said. “I was happy to send them out of here on their last home game on a positive note. I was proud of our kids and their perseverance through tough and adverse times. They continued to amaze all of us, all of us in the building that see them every single day with their resilient nature and their care for each other. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Against the Eagles, the Hokies had a season-low 73 yards passing. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister suffered an injury in the first quarter, while wide receiver Tre Turner did not make the trip due to injury.

On Senior Day in Lane Stadium, it looked like a completely different team. Burmeister and Turner were both healthy and played, and the quarterback had a career night.

Burmeister completed nine of his 15 attempts for 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Raheem Blackshear, Kaleb Smith (his first career TD) and Keshawn King all caught passes for scores. Burmeister also was a threat on the ground, rushing for 71 yards.

“I thought early on he [Burmeister] put some balls in some pretty good spots to give our guys a chance to go catch it,” Fuente said. “I just felt like he was pretty accurate today in terms of getting the ball out and giving our guys a chance to go make plays.”

Virginia Tech posted 573 yards of total offense, the most this season by a wide margin. It’s the first time the Hokies have gone over 500 yards of offense in 43 games, since posting 600 in the loss to Old Dominion in 2018.

And it was an even split of offense. 299 yards on the ground, 276 through the air.

Raheem Blackshear racked up 117 yards and a score on the ground (he had two TDs on the day) on 12 rushes, averaging 9.8 yards per carry. King (nine rushes, 90 yards, 7.9 ypc) and Burmeister each played big roles, too. Surprisingly, Malachi Thomas had a quiet night, finishing with seven carries for 10 yards.

“I thought he [Blackshear] was really effective and patient and explosive when he saw the hole or the crease and got through it quickly,” Fuente said. “I do think it’s a whole product of him continuing to improve and get better.”

As for King, who hadn’t played in four games this season and has mostly been used as a kick returner, Fuente said it’s a glimpse of what he’s capable of.

“I love Keshawn King,” Fuente said. “I’m unrelenting in my desire to continue to do things the right way. He knows that. That’s the beautiful part about it, there’s not a more pleasurable person to be around when he’s right. We’ve seen a lot of that here lately. That’s pretty fun to be around.

“I want to reward him with opportunities this week in fairness to him he has battled a little bit of an ankle deal a few weeks ago that slowed him up. Heading into this game, I felt like it was time to reward him with some opportunities, and he didn’t disappoint.”

In the aerial attack, six different players caught a pass. Robinson led with four, while Blackshear and Kaleb Smith each had two. Nick Gallo, King and Turner had one apiece.

Two of the three touchdowns were for big gains, too. A Burmeister dropped a dime to King on a wheel route for a 47-yard score, and he hit a wide-open Smith for a 30-yard touchdown over the middle, Smith’s first career catch.

Braxton Burmeister had a career-high three touchdown passes against Duke. (Ivan Morozov)

Minus holding calls, few illegal touching flags and Burmeister throwing an interception on a screen, most things went right for the Virginia Tech offense.

Tech had 12 flags for 106 yards. Fuente said, “that wasn’t really like us.” Jermaine Waller was called for pass interference three times, while Luke Tenuta was called for two holding penalties on the same drive.

“We’re fortunate that it didn’t hurt us too bad, but we can’t continue those things,” Fuente said. “We’ve got to play with a little bit more discipline.”

Still, like Fuente stated, Tech ended up being fine despite the penalty yardage. Having a really good performance defensively helped.

Though Duke is dwelling in the bottom of the ACC this season, the Blue Devils had a solid rushing attack entering Saturday. Yet in Lane Stadium, Mataeo Durant, the league’s second-leading rusher, was held to just 33 yards on ten carries.

One of two quarterbacks Duke used, freshman Jordan Moore had success on the ground, rushing for 113 yards and a score on 17 attempts. The strategy of limiting Durant worked, however, which was the plan entering the game.

“He [Durant] runs really hard,” Tech defensive end TyJuan Garbutt said. “Durant’s a really good dude. We just made it a mission to not let nobody come in here and think they can hand the ball off to one guy 40 times and think they’re going to control and dictate the pace of the game that way.

“We wanted to make sure we took it out of his hands, and if they were going to beat us, they were going to do it a different way.”

The Hokies did exactly that, and Duke should’ve started charging them rent on their side of the line of scrimmage. Justin Hamilton’s defense recorded seven tackles for loss and four sacks, which led to 36 total yards lost. Linebackers Dax Hollifield and Alan Tisdale were impressive, making 3.5 of the tackles for loss and a sack each.

Factor in Norell Pollard’s strip sack of Jordan Moore, which Garbutt picked up at the Duke 16-yard line and returned for six, and Duke struggled to move the ball in Blacksburg.

TyJuan Garbutt had a scoop-and-score on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

“I saw the ball come loose but there were so many bodies so I’m just trying to look for it,” Garbutt said. “I’m telling you man, when it just squirted out, I saw it go to the other side of the field, so I started kicking, making sure I can get it before anyone else can get it, whether I fall on it or not, but the end zone is only like seven, eight yards away. I’m not falling on it, I’m going to pick it up and go score it.”

Now, Virginia Tech sits at 5-5 overall, 3-3 in the ACC. Two games remain: at Miami and at Virginia. Only one win is needed to reach a bowl game, and the Hurricanes have been up and down, while the Cavaliers have been poor defensively and might not have Brennan Armstrong.

The Hokies will soak this one in for a little while, though, at least for the rest of Saturday. They’ve been through some rough patches this season and have stayed positive and put their best foot forward.

All of that work pays off with performances like this one, a 31-point win at home on Senior Day.

“It does feel good,” Garbutt said. “It feels like when you get a win like this where the offense is rolling and the defense is rolling, special teams is rolling, it feels like all of the work and all of the adversity you’ve faced as a team, it feels like we’re finally starting to click, in a way. It does feel good.”

Box Score: Link

21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Props to the players and coaching staff for getting the win yesterday on senior day. Great to send all the seniors out with an emphatic win in their last game in Lane.

    Really great to see the players still putting everything in to this program. For all their faults, the coaching staff still has these players wanting to go out there and give maximum effort.

  2. Frustrating to watch this Jekyll and Hyde team. Sure, we looked good against the worst team in the league. But, we looked abysmal against BC, Pitt, etc. Further confounding is that Duke gave Pitt a game, but blasted us. Even further confounding is that we gave ND a game and now they’re once again being discussed as a possible playoff contender. I don’t buy the lack of personnel excuse either, as they were all on the field for ND and Pitt. The old adage is appropriate here… it against a good team and then we’ll talk. Home game vs Duke….we should’ve dominated them and we did, now will they revert back to lackluster against Miami and UVA? Or, will they surprise us? I’m suspecting the former vs the latter.

  3. It will be interesting indeed to see which Hokie team shows in the next two games. If last nights Hokie had been present all season, we are undefeated and the highest ranking team in the ACC.

  4. Other than Dax, do we know (or think we know) what other players will return to be super seniors next year?

      1. Thanks for confirming. I watched last night after many beers. Just was thinking about if what I saw was real.

  5. Jeez, Women’s soccer explodes, Men’s basketball explodes, why can’t football offense be described as exploding also?

    OK, tic, they “trounced” Duke. along with the women’s basketball at GW Thursday, pretty good serious of beat-downs this past Thursday through today (Saturday) from the four sports.

  6. I don’t care if it was against Blacksburg High…. Feels damn good to watch us finally dominate a team, that we’re supposed to dominate! 😤🦃

    1. Yep, pretty good in deed. Just don’t know which Hokie team is getting off the bus in any given week. The played fast and confident, it really was great to see THAT Hokie team again. Don’t give a crap about the penalties when we’re hanging 48 with 500+ and winning by 31. They were fun to watch.

    2. Thanks for your post- I agree it feels good to win no matter the opponent – a total team effort and other aides of the ball looked efficient

    1. Yeesh. They chose not to use him because their O wasn’t effecrive at all, VT controlled the line of scrimmage, and Durant was contained every time he touched the ball.

      1. Hard to believe some of these Anti Hokie posts – Durant was tossed around like a rag do

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