Virginia Tech took all the progress they had made in the last six games and gave it all back, losing to Duke at home, 13-10.
The Hokies had another monstrous defensive effort, giving up just 198 yards, forcing four Duke turnovers (including three interceptions by Kendall Fuller), and holding the Blue Devils to 0-11 on third down.
But the Hokies were the victims of bad outings from quarterback Logan Thomas and placekicker Cody Journell. Thomas, who hadn’t thrown an interception since the Marshall game back on September 21st, coughed up a career-high four interceptions, including one in the end zone. Journell was just 1-3 on field goals, making a 42-yarder but missing kicks from 45 and 40 yards.
Meanwhile, Journell’s counterpart on the Duke squad, Ross Martin, connected from 51 and 53 yards. Combined with a 9-yard touchdown run by Anthony Boone, it was enough to send Duke to the win, despite a terrible outing by Boone. Boone was 7-of-25 for 107 yards, 4 interceptions, and no touchdowns, but the Hokies couldn’t turn that into a win.
As a matter of fact, the Hokies converted none of Boone’s four interceptions into points. Tech picked Boone off at the VT 47, the VT 10, the VT 17, and the Duke 36, and failed to turn any of those into scores. Their best chance, the interception at the Duke 36 with Duke leading 13-10, resulted in a missed 40-yard field goal by Journell.
Virginia Tech held huge advantages in many key statistical areas:
- Yardage: VT 387 yards, Duke 198
- Yards rushing: VT 173, Duke 91
- Number of plays: VT 84, Duke 54
- Time of possession: VT 39:27, Duke 20:33
But because of the Hokies’ four turnovers and two missed field goals, all advantages were squandered, and the Hokies went down in defeat. The loss is Tech’s first to Duke in ACC play, their first to an unranked opponent at home since the 2010 JMU game, and Duke’s first road win over a ranked team since 1971.
Thomas was 21-of-38 for 214 yards and four interceptions, and he also led the Hokies in rushing 101 yards and a touchdown. (Duke had no sacks on the day.) Trey Edmunds and J.C. Coleman combined for 74 more rushing yards on 22 carries, and Demitri Knowles led the Hokies with 69 yards on four catches.
Defensively, Kendall Fuller was the star with three interceptions, and Luther Maddy led the Hokies in tackles with eight, including VT’s only sack. Maddy’s sack was one of just two TFLs for the Hokies on the day.
The Hokies were without the services of defensive starters Kyle Fuller (groin), who played special teams but not defense, Brandon Facyson (who sat out the game), and J.R. Collins (suspended for violating team rules). Backup linebacker Deon Clarke was also suspended for violating team rules.
The first big play of the game came when Kendall Fuller picked off Anthony Boone at the Virginia Tech 46 early in the first quarter. The Hokies drove to the Duke 31 yard line, and when facing a 4th and 11 from there, Frank Beamer decided to eschew the field goal and go for it. Logan Thomas threw it into coverage, and Duke nearly intercepted it, killing the drive.
Thomas had completed his first four passes, but he went into a funk and missed six straight, including his first interception, which came later in the first quarter at the VT 22. Fuller got it back three plays later, picking off Boone at the Hokie ten yard line.
The two teams traded punts, but Duke was winning the field position battle, and they converted that into points in the second quarter. After a 36-yard punt by A.J. Hughes gave Duke the ball at their own 45 yard line, the Blue Devils got a 19-yard run by Jela Duncan, then converted that into a 51-yard field goal by Ross Martin to go up 3-0 with 12:27 to go second quarter.
The Hokies responded with one of their better drives of the day, going all the way to the Duke one yard line, where the Hokies had second and goal. J.C. Coleman lost a yard on the next play, and on 3rd and goal from the two, Thomas hit D.J Coles for a TD, but Coles was called for an illegal shift, negating the play. On the very next play, Thomas was pressured, and he forced a pass into coverage in the end zone, where Duke’s Ross Cockrell picked it off.
Duke drove all the way to the Hokie 12 yard line and threatened to extend their lead, but Tariq Edwards batted a pass by Boone into the air, and Tech’s Dadi Nicolas picked it off at the Tech 17.
Tech drove right back down the field and, facing a 4th and 8 from the Duke 28, went for the tying field goal. Cody Journell missed it with just 42 seconds left in the half, and Duke then picked up a critical score right before half time. Boone was 4-16 at that point, but he completed consecutive passes of 11, 16, and 7 yards, and Martin made it pay off with a 53-yard field goal as time ran out in the half. Duke took a 6-0 lead into half time.
Needing some offensive momentum, the Hokies took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove to the Duke 37, where the Hokies faced a 4th and 1. Tech ran an off-tackle play for Trey Edmunds, who was stopped, giving the ball back to Duke.
Aided by a pass interference call on Jack Tyler and defensive holding on Kyshoen Jarrett, the Blue Devils drove 63 yard in just six plays, scoring on a 9-yard run by Boone around the left end. Duke led 13-0 with 6:14 to go third quarter.
Logan Thomas threw his third interception of the day on Tech’s next possession, at the Hokie 41, when he threw a short pass to Willie Byrn that was deflected high into the air and was picked off by Jeremy Cash. But the Tech defense forced a three and out and a punt. The punt was downed by the Blue Devils at the Hokie one yard line when a Duke player who stepped out of bounds batted the ball into the end zone. Since he contacted the ball while out of bounds, it downed the ball at the one.
Virginia Tech responded, surprisingly, with their second 99-yard drive of the season. Thomas started with a 56-yard sideline completion to Demitri Knowles, and the Hokies stuck it quickly into the end zone from there, scoring in just six plays on a 5-yard run by Thomas. That made it 13-7, Duke, with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
One possession later, the Hokies closed it to 13-10 on a 42-yard field goal by Cody Journell with 9:23 to go.
When Kendall Fuller registered his third interception of the game just two plays later, on the Duke 33, it looked like the Hokies were in business to take the lead. But facing 4th and 2 from the Duke 23, Tech tried for the tying field goal, and Journell yanked it badly left, missing it with 6:02 to go.
The Tech defense forced a three and out, but on the second play of Tech’s next possession, on 2nd and six from around midfield, Thomas didn’t see Willie Byrn open downfield and instead forced a short pass into coverage. The ball bounced off of Demitri Knowles into the air and was picked off by Kelby Brown at the Duke 47 with 4:22 left.
The Hokies never got the ball again. Though Duke didn’t convert a third down all day, they did convert a fourth down on their last possession, a 4th and 1 at the Tech 44 with 3:12 remaining. Dadi Nicolas and Kyshoen Jarrett both had shots at tackling backup Duke QB Brandon Connette in the backfield, but failed to wrap him up, and Duke ran out the clock from that point on.
Virginia Tech Postgame Notes, courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics Communications
• Tech’s permanent captains for the year are Jack Tyler, Kyle Fuller, Andrew Miller and Logan Thomas.
• Kyle Fuller (groin) saw his 34-game start streak end today when he wasn’t on the field for the opening defensive play of the game. The last game the senior didn’t start was the 2011 Orange Bowl against Stanford. He did play on special teams.
• Freshman Chuck Clark got his first start of his career, coming as a nickel back in Tech’s defensive formation. Kendall Fuller slid to one cornerback spot and Antone Exum made his 2013 debut, starting opposite Fuller, after suffering a knee injury in January.
• Dadi Nicolas made his first collegiate start, coming in place of J.R. Collins.
• Darius Redman made his first collegiate start, coming at tight end.
• True freshman Kendall Fuller had a career-high three interceptions in the game to give him a Tech freshman-record five for the season. Tech’s true freshman combo of Fuller (5) and Brandon Facyson (4) have combined for nine interceptions this year. Fuller passed Eric Green (2000) and Facyson (2013), who previously held the freshman record with four.
• Defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins saw one play at fullback in the first half, the first offensive snaps of his career.
• Dadi Nicolas recorded his first career interception, coming toward the end of the first half. Tech now has a nation-leading 17 interceptions on the season.
• The last time Tech was held scoreless in the first half was last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers. The Hokies trailed 10-0 but won 13-10 in overtime.
• Logan Thomas set a new Tech quarterback career record with his 24th rushing touchdown in the third quarter, breaking a tie with Tyrod Taylor.
• With Tech’s first score, the Hokies extended their scoring streak to 238 games, the 13th-longest in NCAA Division I history. Five of the 12 streaks ahead of Tech’s are active streaks. It marked just the 11th time during the streak Tech has had to go into the second have to extend the streak. It marked just the 13th time during the streak Tech has failed to score 13 or more points.
• Tech went 4-for-6 on fourth-down conversions. Tech converted four tries against West Virginia in 1997, a 30-17 loss, the most under Beamer. The only other time Tech tried six fourth-down conversions under Beamer was in that West Virginia game, as well as against Southern Miss in 1994.
• The last time the Hokies had a 99-yard touchdown drive was in its 2005 game against Maryland. It was the only other 99-yard drive under Beamer before today.
• The last time a Tech player had three interceptions in a game was Jayron Hosley in 2010 against Russell Wilson and NC State. Kendall Fuller became the 13th Tech player in modern history to record three picks in a game.
• The last time Tech’s defense recorded four or more interceptions in a game and the Hokies lost was in 1992 when Rutgers threw five picks, but still won 50-49.
• The last time Tech’s defense intercepted four passes in a game was against North Carolina in 2010. The last time the Hokies threw four interceptions in a game was against Miami in 2001.
• The loss to unranked Duke broke a 20-game home winning streak against unranked teams. The last loss was to JMU in 2010.
• Defensive tackle Luther Maddy recorded a career-high eight tackles in the game. His previous high was seven against Marshall earlier this season.