Pinstripe Bowl Demolition Signifies End Of An Era At Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech and Connor Blumrick had a rough outing in the Pinstripe Bowl. (Ivan Morozov)

From the first time Maryland touched the ball in The New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday, few things went right for Virginia Tech. A 92-yard punt return for the Terrapins in the first quarter set the tone for the game, a 54-10 loss for the Hokies in Yankee Stadium.

The 44-point defeat is the worst loss in a bowl game for Virginia Tech in program history, surpassing a 39-point loss to North Carolina in the 1998 Gator Bowl.

“I think it’s a situation where it’s like plowing a snow hill,” interim head coach J.C. Price said after the loss. “Eventually, everything just caught up to us, and we didn’t have enough tonight. They were a better team. They out-coached us. They outplayed us. I give my hats off to Maryland and their staff.”

Despite having possession for 23 minutes in the first half and running 43 plays, Virginia Tech trailed 24-10 at halftime. The Hokies didn’t find any success on the ground, carrying the ball 32 times for 88 yards. They made solid progress in the air – eight completions on 11 attempts for 108 yards (13.5 avg.) – but couldn’t find paydirt.

Meanwhile, Maryland had its way in every phase of the game. It came up with big plays – touchdowns of 70 yards, 32 yards and a fumble return for 11 yards – and scored quickly – four drives of six plays or less.

Taulia Tagovailoa led the way for the Terps, completing 14 of his 15 first half attempts for 192 yards and a touchdown. He finished 20-24 for 265 yards (83%) and two scores, and he tied the single-season Maryland record in touchdown passes (26).

“The quarterback, we knew he was good coming into the game,” Price said. “We knew what was going to happen, and he did it. He scrambled around, extended plays, found receivers. They made plays all night, and it seemed like we were a step behind all night.”

Taulia Tagovailoa was 20-24 on Wednesday afternoon. (Ivan Morozov)

The Terrapins created a big lead in a flash and the Hokies, missing a variety of key players, couldn’t produce anything. Five of Tech’s nine drives in the first three quarters ended in a punt, while the two possessions in Maryland territory that didn’t culminate in a score were a punt and a turnover on downs.

Missing 13 players from its two-deep from the regular season finale against Virginia – seven on offense, six on defense – Virginia Tech looked outmatched in all phases. Even though Price said on Tuesday that the lack of depth on offense and defense was “a little bit blown out of proportion,” the Hokies didn’t look anywhere close to the team that won the Commonwealth Cup back on November 27.

Maryland was more physical up front and completely stuffed Tech’s inside run game, all while exposing a depleted Hokie secondary on the other side. As Price said post-game, “there weren’t many holes.”

That opened the door for the offense, and a consistent Terrapin attack – plus a strip sack for a score – led to 33 unanswered points, 30 in the second half.

“Our team did a great job on offense of just sticking to what we wanted to get done,” Maryland head coach Michael Locksley said. “Our quarterback stayed really consistent with his execution, and the guys up front gave him time to make the throws, and also we were able to run the ball, and I think that played a major part in it. Wore them down a little bit.”

Tech quarterback Connor Blumrick completed nine of his 15 pass attempts and ran for 11 yards on 15 carries, while Raheem Blackshear had just 46 yards on the ground. For comparison, Blumrick totaled 132 rushing yards at Miami in November, while Blackshear had 169 against the Cavaliers. Maryland shut down those two, along with the rest of Tech’s run game, in New York.

With the absence of quarterbacks Braxton Burmeister and Knox Kadum, both of whom entered the transfer portal, Blumrick started and played the majority of the game. True freshman Tahj Bullock saw his first collegiate minutes and completed two of his four passes for 27 yards. He also carried the ball six times for 14 yards, the third-most yards on the team.

Tech freshman QB Tahj Bullock saw his first collegiate minutes in New York. (Ivan Morozov)

“Me and [offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen] had conversations about how we wanted to work Tahj into the game,” Price said. “We didn’t want to put him in a bad situation, so we decided to rotate him like we did. …  I think that kid has a bright future. There are things he needs to work on, obviously, but he has a high care factor.”

All in all, however, it was a disappointing day for the Hokies in New York, especially for the many Tech fans among the 29,653 in attendance that made the trip.

Price did a solid job of putting this group together, particularly after inheriting the team with three games to go, needing a win for a bowl berth. Indeed, the Hokies won in Charlottesville, earning an opportunity to extend their season, but their depleted roster was no match against former ACC foe Maryland.

Turning The Page

“And so it begins” – Théoden of Rohan, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

The loss in the Pinstripe Bowl marks the end of the Justin Fuente era at Virginia Tech and the beginning of the Brent Pry age. The former coach left the Hokies in a tough situation, and Price steered the ship for the remaining weeks. He put everything on the line for his alma mater, soaked in the opportunity and lived out a dream.

As the players exited the field after the bowl game, Price embraced each one. He inherited a grand opportunity in an unfortunate situation. He said multiple times how he never wanted to become a head coach in that fashion. But Price did everything in his power to put Virginia Tech in a situation to win its last four games.

“I’m proud to be their coach,” Price said. “I’m proud of those guys. Maryland was a better team today, obviously. They were better coached. They played better. That doesn’t stop a person from caring about somebody because you lost a football game, and I care about those guys.”

An emotional J.C. Price embraced players post-game. (Ivan Morozov)

Now, the transition. Outside of Price and Pierson Prioleau, Pry’s safeties coach, the old staff’s time is done. The new group Pry has assembled can go to work with remodeling and reshaping the program and the culture.

A few players such as linebacker Dax Hollifield, defensive end TyJuan Garbutt and quarterback Connor Blumrick have announced they are returning for another season. Many others have said they will continue their careers elsewhere.

Either way, the conclusion of the bowl game marks a new rule in Blacksburg, one Hokies hope will be more sustainable than the last.

Box Score: Link

37 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Shoutout to all the quitters out there….the “team mates” that left their team and brothers high and dry! Hope you me football career sucks as bad as you quitting on VT and coach Price. FU and F Fu too!

  2. From now on when a recruit decides he would like to play for VIRGINIA TECH maybe TSL could use another word besides “COMMITTED” as it seems to be a fair amount who have no idea what that word means! That being said THANK YOU to our players, coaches and support staff that do and gave their best when it always wasn’t easy!!

  3. It was difficult and sad to watch this game play out, but necessary for Hokie nation to have seen it. This game has become the final report after six seasons of football management under Justin Fuente and his associates. Everything that has happened over the last six years, in one way or another, has contributed to this moment in time and Justin Fuente OWNS it. This was the game that has put everything into prospective about how this program was so horribly mis-managed both by on-field and off-field personnel over the years. Hopefully Witt Babcock has come to recognize his part in this as well.
    Time to put all this to the side. You can’t change any of it, so why even bother to try. I’m encouraged with the new HC hire and anticipate things will gradually improve over the next few years. I don’t, however, foresee any over-night miracles occurring. Justin Fuente took six years to dismantle this program into what we all saw it has become today. It’s going to take some time to get rebuilt. VT needs our positive support moving forward.

    1. Let’s not be too hard on Whit. He’s done a lot of things right. The fundamental issues w/CJF were cultural and personality. A former Tech player told me CJF wasn’t a good fit because he was, “a Texas guy,” even though he was from OK. Likewise, Mendenhall wasn’t a good cultural fit for UVA. Neither had any connections to the region, didn’t know the terrain. Mendenhall was a bit or a weirdo, Fuente was an introvert who didn’t connect well with a media, fanbase or players. Frank is somewhat introverted but knew how to, “connect.” However, Fuente wasn’t a jerk, as we all know, Groh was. I personally wish him well.

      1. Fuente wasn’t a good fit because he was a smug fool it had nothing to do with where he was from.

        1. Let’s see – Whit hired Fuente, Extended Fuente’s contract, After Year 5 allowed him to keep his entire staff, his job, and called it Year 1. Then, fires the guy giving him all of his contract money UP FRONT. Whit has been especially hard on the Hokie Football Program and pocket book, but let’s not be hard on Whit. Oh, and yes, along the way Whit gave himself a 8 year contract extension.

    2. If you check the game by game results of Beamer’s last four years you’ll see that the dismantling was well underway before Fuente arrived.

  4. I’m not going to totally blame the score on Fuente, that’s a little unfair, at least to a degree, Pry and I guess Babcock just let this game happen: have the not entirely motivated B team handle it while Pry focuses on the future. the latter might have included slamming the door on BB playing to send a message down the road to players to think twice before entering the portal. If we can do without our starting QB your chances of returning probably aren’t so good either.

    Anyway, no one should have been surprised at the score, basically, with all the defections VT was a 2-10 team (as opposed to Fu’s 6-6 team) and really this game should not have been played, that is, if one believes in matching competitive teams in bowl games. Should have put money on that. Darrn, Anyway, what’s done is done, moving on now.

  5. I am proud that Virginia Tech showed up and suited up. The score was far from what was expected, but the result was the same as expected. I give it a one-off and look forward to the re-build. If players want to go Portal, goodbye and good luck. Gives more opportunity to play young guys that are already here, and hopefully the new recruits can get a redshirt year of strength and growth

  6. I wasn’t expecting to win, but was hoping that we would at least go for broke. Instead we did exactly what everyone expected and as a result deserved the beat down we received.

  7. This song is for Fuente and his other coaches who are leaving town……………Good Night Irene!!!!!!!

  8. Why Brad Cornelsen was allowed to remain when smug Fuentes decided to quit instead of finish out is beyond me. Pretty sure any person on offensive staff could not call plays any worse than him (esp if reports are true that Corn takes all decision making out of QB hands/eyes and requires them to throw to a specific player regardless of coverage)

    1. No flag football QB *has* to throw to one receiver and that’s certainly not the case with ANY div. 1 football team. Get some fresh oxygen, stop the Fu/Corny conspiracy pile on and let’s move on. Much better days ahead. Excited about Coach Pry and the staff he’s building!!!

  9. Pretty much sums it up with the exception of the JCP comment that “we were out-coached”. If that was the case, then twerps should’ve scored a TD instead of a FG. Doesn’t take great coaching when you have a mini Tua versus portaled former H-Back at QB. But it does take good coaching to know to manage a game specifically TOS in 2 minute drill. Locksley wanted to (and did) RUT so he had to be dissatisfied with a FG! JCP will be beloved by players and fans for years for trying to make chicken salad out of chicken____!

  10. This beat down was predictable. Wish we had admitted that our, at best mediocre team, was unfit to compete with the grievous losses of first line players … and forfeited. Damn the NFL and the transfer portal.

  11. How can anyone rationalize why Bullock was not played more, not only today but through the season. The little we saw today, he is every bit as tough runner than Blumrick and outweighs him by 20 lbs. His couple of passes were in the right direction and one completion was a good back shoulder throw. Thank goodness for a new offensive regime!!

    1. Passes in the right direction 😬

      That’s a start!

      I agree that he should have had 4 games worth of being the battering ram just to c if he can survive…cause that’s his future at VT with our OL.

  12. J.C. Price did his best for his beloved VT. So much damages were done to the program during the dysfunctional Fuente’s era. Let’s move forward to the rebuilding of this proud VT program with optimism and renew support. Go Hokies…

  13. Positives – VT finally realized that TEs are eligible to catch passes, Payoute made it on to the field and caught a pass, Bullock made it onto the field and performed decently

  14. Woof. I know we were down a ton going in and the +3.5 spread seemed low to me but as a Hokie I will always think we have a fighting chance. Can’t remember watching a beating like this since LSU game in 2007. With the new regime hope it is a really long time until I see another one with the Hokies on the wrong end of the beating.

    Happy New Year all! Here’s to a much better and brighter 2022 with Hokie football and the world as a whole moving in a much better direction.

    1. We need two average P5 qb from portal. Guys who can learn the new passing offense read and deliver.

      1. The very LAST thing this program needs is two AVERAGE quarterbacks from the portal. What we’ve witnessed for years is AVERAGE everything – from recruiting to coaching to game management to building relationships with supporters – from the people who’ve been running VT football. I am sick and tired of “average” quarterbacks, and average Offensive Coordination, and average or worse win/loss records. We probably won’t GET any better than average QBs from the portal, but we need one more than we need anything else.

        1. Ok mr majjic where u going to buy these crack QBS FROM?

          The starting quality guys are committed.

  15. OK, everyone goes home, come back next semester, start lifting and prep for Spring Ball. New coaches start distribute playbooks. It’s a new era and everyone is looking for a starting position from rising Sr to early Freshman. Everyone is equal so everyone needs to work their butt off. Coaches need to look at portal to fill positions.


Comments are closed.