Virginia Tech Falls to ECU, 35-28



— box score —

Greenville, NC — Virginia Tech jumped out to a 14-0 early lead on East Carolina, then collapsed and lost to the Pirates for the second year in a row, 35-28.

ECU backup quarterback James Summers torched the Hokies for 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 21 carries. Summers replaced starting quarterback Blake Kemp in the second quarter, as a light rain turned into a steady downpour, and he led the Pirates to the win, gashing Tech’s defense for touchdown runs of five and 41 yards. He also threw a touchdown pass to Isaiah Jones.

ECU's James Summers (in the pouring rain)
ECU’s James Summers (in the pouring rain)

The Hokies outgained the Pirates 439-410, but after taking a quick 14-0 lead, the Hokie offense went silent, and ECU went on an extended 35-7 run to take a 35-21 lead late in the third quarter. Tech scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to close the gap to 35-28, but late in the game, facing a fourth and 2 at the VT 40, Brenden Motley hit tight end Bucky Hodges in the hands, but Hodges couldn’t reel in the pass, which was slightly tipped. The Hokies had one more possession after that, but they started on their own six yard line with 58 seconds left and no timeouts, and couldn’t get the ball downfield.

Though the yardage totals were fairly even, the Hokies struggled to extend drives. Tech converted just six of 16 third downs, while ECU converted six of 12, twice as many third down conversions as any other Tech opponent this season. Coming into the game, Tech opponents were eight of 39 (20.5%) on third down.

Brenden Motley was 20-of-35 for 281 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT for the Hokies. Motley was 7-of-11 on third down, but only three of the completions resulted in first downs, and he also threw his lone interception on third down.

Meanwhile, all six of the Pirates third down conversions were six yards or longer: 3rd and 6, 3rd and 7 (twice), 3rd and 8, 3rd and 9, and 3rd and 13. ECU also converted a 3rd and 13 on a questionable pass interference call against Chuck Clark, and ECU scored on the next play. Lastly, the Pirates converted a 4th and 12, scoring on a 26-yard TD pass.

The Hokies were also undone by penalties. One of the most penalized teams in the nation, the Hokies committed 11 more for 89 yards. Most of the penalties were legitimate, but a couple were terrible calls. In addition to the pass interference call against Clark, which was a complete phantom call that led to a touchdown on the next play, starting Hokie linebacker Sean Huelskamp was ejected in the fourth quarter for a questionable targeting call, when he made a tackle against Summers as Summers was sliding to the ground. Huelskamp, who led the Hokies with ten tackles, will miss the first half of next week’s game against Pittsburgh per NCAA rules.

One of the most costly penalties for the Hokies came on offense and was a pre-snap penalty. Motley threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Bucky Hodges in the second quarter that was wiped out by an illegal formation call, and Joey Slye missed a 37-yard field goal a few plays later.

Motley led the Hokies in rushing with 85 yards on 19 carries. No other Tech player carried the ball more than seven times. J.C. Coleman (seven carries, 13 yards) and Trey Edmunds (five carries, eight yards) combined for 12 carries for just 21 yards (1.75 ypc). Travon McMillian carried it just six times, but ran for 30 yards (5 ypc).

Travon McMillian
Travon McMillian

In receiving, Isaiah Ford tied his single-game high with eight catches for 95 yards, while Bucky Hodges had a season-high five catches for 73 yards.

Defensively, the Hokies were led by Huelskamp with ten tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. Luther Maddy added 10 tackles (1.5 TFL), and freshman rover Adonis Alexander had nine tackles.

The defensive story of the game for the Hokies was the absence of preseason All-American cornerback Kendall Fuller with a knee issue. The Hokie coaching staff said that Fuller is suffering from a knee sprain that dates back to training camp, and the knee didn’t feel good enough to play on.

“We were planning on playing him,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “They injected him this week. He was feeling pretty good in the morning but when we went out on the field, it just didn’t feel very good.”

The Hokies started Greg Stroman at cornerback, and Stroman was victimized for both of ECU’s passing touchdowns.

Game Recap

ECU won the toss and elected to receive, and on the second play from scrimmage, Greg Stroman picked off Blake Kemp, jumping an inside route and intercepting it cleanly. The Hokies drove 31 yards in 6 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by Trey Edmunds. A few plays later, Kemp fumbled into the air after being hit by Ken Ekanem, and Mook Reynolds plucked it on the ECU 36 and ran it down to the 19. Six plays later, Brenden Motley hit tight end Ryan Malleck in the back of the end zone with a seven-yard TD pass to put the Hokies up 14-0 early.

Wyatt Teller was called for a personal foul on the touchdown play, pushing the Hokie kickoff back to the 20 yard line. ECU returned the kickoff to their 39-yard line, and then Kemp hit Davon Grayson for a 24 yard play to the Hokies’ 37. That seemed to get the Pirates started, and they scored a few plays later on a 3 yard read option keeper by Kemp to close it to 14-7.

ECU followed that up with an 8-play, 60-yard drive that ended in an 11-yard TD pass from Kemp to Trevon Brown with 16 seconds left in the quarter to tie it at 14.

After a Tech punt, ECU scored on their third straight possession, going 77 yards in eight plays. With the rain coming down steadily, Summers replaced Kemp on the drive and completed a 30-yard pass and ran for 24 yards on consecutive plays. Summers then finished off the drive with a five-yard TD run on a QB draw.

That made it 21-14. The Hokies squandered a chance to score on their next possession. Motley hit Bucky Hodges with a well-thrown 22-yard TD pass, but the Hokies were flagged for an illegal formation. A few plays later, Joey Slye missed a 37-yard field goal, his first miss inside 40 yards this season, and the two teams went into half time with ECU leading 21-14.

After the Hokies went three and out on their first possession of the second half, ECU drove for their fourth straight touchdown, going 53 yards in six plays. On the drive, Summers completed a pass of 29 yards to Isaiah Jones, then threw a 26-yard TD strike to Jones on fourth and 12. Jones sprinted to the end zone against single coverage by Stroman, outmuscled Stroman for the ball, and made a diving catch to put the Pirates up 28-14.

The Hokie offense finally woke back up, going 75 yards in nine plays to close it to 28-21. Motley hit Bucky Hodges for a 32-yard play where Hodges caught it short, bounced off a defender, and took it upfield to the ECU 30. Four plays later, Sam Rogers bulled in from the two yard line for Virginia Tech’s first score in 30 minutes.

Sam Rogers scores from two yards out against the Pirates.
Sam Rogers scores from two yards out against the Pirates.

Sadly for the Hokies, ECU responded immediately. On third and six from the ECU 42 yard line, Summers hit Quay Johnson for 17 yards, and on the next play, Summers took it right up the middle for a 41-yard rushing TD. On the play, Summers kept it on the read option, put a spin move on Chuck Clark, and then simply wrestled out of the grasp of Ken Ekanem, taking it untouched from there for the long TD. ECU led 35-21, with 3:43 to go third quarter.

The Pirates wouldn’t score again, but they didn’t need to. The Hokies drove to the ECU 21 yard line on the strength of a 39-yard bomb from Motley to Isaiah Ford, but then Motley threw an interception on third and six from the ECU 21. Motley was late with the pass over the middle to Malleck, and it was tipped by a defender and intercepted by Jordan Williams.

Later in the quarter, Motley hit Cam Phillips across the middle with a short pass that Phillips turned upfield for a 60-yard play to the ECU five yard line. On the next play, Motley ran it in up the middle after faking a jet sweep. That made it 35-28 with 8:18 left, giving the Hokies hope.

On ECU’s next possession, Summers ran up the middle and was tackled by Sean Huelskamp as he slid. The officials called targeting on Huelskamp, and after a lengthy video review, the officials ejected Huelskamp for the remainder of the game. By NCAA rules, Huelskamp is out for the first half of next week’s game against Pittsburgh, as well.

The Hokies forced a punt and had two more possessions the rest of the game. The first possession started on Tech’s 4-yard line with 4:35 left and ended on fourth and two when Motley threw a pass down the middle to Hodges that was slightly tipped but couldn’t be reeled in by Hodges, despite hitting him in the hands.

Tech had another possession that started on their 6-yard line with 58 seconds left, but the Hokies had no timeouts and ran out of time at their 41, heaving a Hail Mary that wasn’t caught as time expired.

With the loss, the Hokies fall to 2-2, and the out of conference portion of their schedule is over. The Hokies’ next game is at home against Coastal Division foe Pittsburgh, October 3rd at noon. The game will be televised by RSN. Check local listings.

Game Notes, Courtesy Virginia Tech Sports Information

  • Tech entered the locker rooms trailing for the first time this season. The Hokies are still outscoring their opponents’ 69-52 in the first half.


  • Rushed for 85 yards, the most by a Tech quarterback since Logan Thomas had 101 yards against Duke on October 26, 2013.
  • With his fourth-quarter rushing touchdown, Motley became the first Tech quarterback under Beamer to score a rushing touchdown in each of his first three starts
  • With his 281 yards passing, Motley becomes the first Tech quarterback under Beamer to throw for at least 200 yards in each of his first three starts.
  • In his first three starts, Motley has thrown for 734 yards, the second-most by a starter in his first three games (Michael Brewer, 2014, 748), rushed for 147 yards, the second-most by a starter in his first three games (Al Clark, 1997, 165) and his eight total touchdowns (5 passing, 3 rushing) are the second most (Grant Noel, 2001, 9).
  • In those first three starts, Motley has 881 total yards of offense, the most by a quarterback under Beamer in his first three starts (Brewer, 765).


  • With his fifth reception of the game (a 39-yard completion), Ford went over 1,000 yards receiving for his career.
  • He becomes the fastest player by games played under Beamer to reach the milestone, passing André Davis, who reached 1,000 yards receiving in his 19th game played (1999).


  • Made first career start.
  • Recovered first career fumble, which led to the Hokies second touchdown in the first quarter.


  • Intercepted his first career pass.


  • Did not start or play, due to knee sprain.
  • Ended his 19-game starting streak. Dean Clarke, Ken Ekanem, and Dadi Nicolas now lead the Hokies in straight starts with 17 each.


  • Registered a team-high 94-receiving yards, which is also a career-high.


  • Tied for the team-lead with 10 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, and his first career sack.
  • Huelskamp only had five career tackles coming into the game.

35 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It’s time to stop treating Shane as the second coming too. What has he done? Where is the recruiting energy he was going to bring? He has mismanaged the back field from day 1. I no longer stand watching JC Coleman run for 1.3 yards a carry and the next time Edmunds hits the hole in full stride will be the first time. McMillan and Rodgers and Shai when hes ready.

    That was a team that was not ready to play, which is a continual theme over the last 5 years. Penalties, dropped passes, missed tackles and the inability to cover anyone. We have no one to back up Kendall but a converted WR and kick returner?

    Disgusted by this loss. This fan base has every right to be frustrated. We a mediocre program at best. Our coaching staff doesn’t recruit the team is unprepared. Yes Frank built this program and HAD earned the right to go out on his own. HAD.

    Oh, and Bucky…wear sleeves.

    1. The coaching staff should have recruiting built into their contracts. Bonus are paid on number of 5 star recruits etc.

    2. you are right. we have become mediocre. my son asked why we keep struggling with ECU….my response? because we’re no longer better than them.

  2. Will someone tell me why Frank would call timeout in the second qtr when they were punting the ball to us and they had 1 second on their play clock!!??wtf

  3. our starting defensive end practically bear hugged their qb, but still let him get away and ran for a td…there isn’t much else to say…

  4. I couldn’t even finish reading this article and I’m sure it was good. But the reason I couldn’t finish is because of how pissed off I get at the crap coaching staff. I’m sorry to anyone I offend but the continuous stupid decisions made by this poor coaching staff. 1st penalties geez what a joke and poor coaching this is constantly. 2nd how about how they play Kendall vs F’n Furman and Purdue when he coulda been healing but no these morons chose to play him and then had to sit vs a team the entire world except CFB and Bud know will pass all over you. And like noted they torched his backup. Also overall fans who don’t keep up with recruiting these past couple years have been a long time coming. Such poor recruiting and Bud is a total joke for not even being able to play a LB on scholarship cuz of how little he recruits. This ENTIRE staff needs to be replaced

  5. Nice article, Will, about a very frustrating game. I don’t know how you manage to remain so coolly objective despite how you must be feeling inside.

    My two cents: What you saw yesterday was the theme that weaves through most of the frustrating VT losses we’ve seen over the last few years: We often lack intensity and are not mentally prepared to play. When the other team shows up with those characteristics in abundance, the Hokies are going to be in for a long day. A team with our level of talent needs to “bring it” every time out. The penalties are another sign of a team that is mentally unprepared.

    Our offensive play calling remains way too predictable and, therefore, defensible.

    The many articles/comments over the years about poor O-line recruiting are spot-on. But our LB recruiting has been pretty limp too. Huelskamp and Lydon have promise but are very green. How I miss players like DelRicco and Adibi……

    Motley was a warrior and played reasonably well, all things considered. He showed grit and resiliency, and a nice touch on a couple of throws. But he continues to stare down his receivers and telegraph passes, which will result in picks like the 3rd & 6 drive-killer deep in ECU territory late in the game.

    And after that 4th and 2 drop by Hodges on our last meaningful drive, maybe he can find a tattoo shop that can modify the arrogant “God’s Gift” tats he has on the reverse of his biceps.

    The officiating stunk but we should have overcome it. That requires mental discipline and toughness. Two traits the Hokies rarely display.

  6. We had 439 yards of offense, scored 28 points with one touchdown called back and a field goal missed inside the 40, a quarterback starting his third game, in terrible weather conditions. Come on guys, don’t blame it on the offense this time. Check the scoreboard for three years starting in 2000 vs. the last three years and compare the number of times our opponent scored over thirty points. You might be surprised. I agree with several comments above, we do not and have not had an answer for a mobile quarterback for some time. Even if we do not game plan for one, at this point, I would think we could adjust.

    1. Motley may have looked good and the yards may look good. However, we were spotted 14 pts to start the game. Without those turn overs and the short field we go into the 3rd qtr at 28 to 0. The offense didn’t put a scoring drive together until the 3rd qtr. Without the 14 give away points the final would have been 35 to 14 and we would have been bashing the O and the D. No matter what the yards were. No matter how good anyone on the O looked. We lost 7 chances to gain yards due to 2 yrd Coleman. What if Mcmillian gets 4,5 or more yards on 4 of those 7 chances. What if we had passed and got 20 or 30 instead of 2. We got a touch down called back due to penalties. Tech’s had a ton to this point and the offense is to blame for that. We’ve had time to get that fixed. The yard total and the 14 pts are the only thing that kept the offense out of hot water this time.

      1. I don’t think you can say we were “spotted” 14 points, especially with the struggles in kicking. If by “spotted” you mean tech automatically scores TD’s in the red zone, then by all means, we were “spotted” 14 points. Thought that we were treated to some old school Hokie football, the defense provided a short field and the offense responded. This hasn’t always been the case with the offense in recent years. It seemed that, as a team, intensity was lost the rest of the way. I don’t think the team coasted after the first two quick scores, just didn’t “feel” like the first part of the first quarter the rest of the game, more like “the game was in hand” type of feeling…until it wasn’t.

  7. It sure seemed like JC Coleman had more the 7 carries. Every first down was Coleman for 2 yrds, Coleman for 2 yrds, Coleman for 2 yrds……’s not hard for ECU to game plan against that. Bucky got what 30 yrs on 1st down in the second half. Trey Edmunds looked like he was standing up straight on one play when he hit the line. McMillian was the better back and should be the starter. Would have been nice to see what he and McKenzie would have done. But we had to have Coleman for 2 yrds no matter what every first down. Coleman had his chance. Now put in the best players. Having an overpaid holder for the running backs coach doesn’t help out either.

    1. the comment about treating non-conference games as pre-season games is symbolic of how our relevance on the national level has disappeared. we used to strive to win the national championship – now were are lucky to compete for the Coastal division

  8. This was game that looked at first to go all VT’s way. Then the weird penalties calls started and it seemed as if every ball would bounce ECU’s way. That was when I thought it would be hard for VT to catch a break. Two or three critical plays ECU seemed to have the ball fall in their hands when the play was broken…then the fumble out the side of the end zone. We didn’t play particularly well, but the forces of football didn’t help either.

  9. Foster was outcoached again. They copied the Ohio State game plan exactly. He can’t game plan and execute against mobile quarterbacks.

  10. What an embarrassing loss. I thought Tech had finally turned the corner. Obviously not. Tech is very mediorcore. Elite teams find ways to win ugly games like this…against 2nd-tier teams they should beat. Instead, Tech always finds a way to lose these games…every year.

    And the worst part about it, is that it is the defense that is mostly to blame. Remember the pre-season? Tech was supposed to have a top 5 defense. What a joke!! We just got sliced-and-diced by a 3rd string QB from a 2-tier level team! Wait until we face some real competition!! Tech’s defense is horrible.

    This loss is very discouraging, for it simply proves how far Tech had fallen off from its elite days. And how far we have to go to get back there. We are looking at another very long, and very frustrating season.

    1. That’s what so sad. Ecu is an 8-4 team at best in mid major conference. I don’t even think they are that good. I thnk they lose 5 or 6. And we got outcoached. Whit needs to make the call now. This was a pitiful loss to a scrub team

  11. Kudos to Brendan Motley. He is a stud. I’m just glad that he survived.

    Penalties on Chuck Clark and Huelskamp weren’t “questionable; they were C R I M I N A L. I hope that there are consequences for the officials who made the calls.

    In summary, ECU just played a great game.

    1. He really manned up…shame he had no one following him. He was perfect, but you really shouldn’t HAVE to be..mistakes, phantom calls, and general sloppy defense on top of it all…All in all, it goes down as one of the most discouraging losses I can remember. I had high expectations for this bunch, and thought they were getting better…for the first time since 2003, I CRINGED every time the defense came on the field. Reading that they gave up scores on 5 (6?) straight possessions, I can see why… we were completely exposed and the air is out of the balloon for me.

      Hope the weather is perfect next weekend in Blacksburg, because I’m all of a sudden not expecting much from the football in Lane Stadium!

      1. Should have been (re Motley)..he was “NOT perfect”..

        Sure wish the programmers could figure out a way to include my FAVORITE feature ( EDIT) in these article reply boxes.

      2. Should have been (re Motley)..he was “NOT perfect”..

        Sure wish the programmers could figure out a way to include my FAVORITE feature ( EDIT) in these article reply boxes.

  12. Com’ on Man! This game was just plain ugly. Bad offense, defense, special teams, play calling, officiating, uniforms and weather. UGLY!

    1. A couple of things: your QB should not be your primary ball carrier, and someone should check the bank accounts of the officials. The fix was on! And where was DBU?

  13. This is one I don’t blame the Offense, what worries me is if Summers can run roughshod through the Defense, what will unc’s Williams do and GT’s option. This raises concerns on the Defense, but in Bud I trust and I am sure he will fix this. I am disappointed but there were some phantom calls on the D and that you can’t fix. So let’s lick our wounds and go out and beat Pitt!!!

    GO HOKIES!!!

    1. The origins of my malaise are that i don’t think Bud CAN fix this! I trust in Bud, but he cannot tackle, or cover anybody a single time in any game…

      Just like I knew he had NOT forgotten how to coach in 2003, I know he hasn’t forgotten NOW….but I have a sense of dread whenever the defense takes the field, that the results will be the same as that 2003 debacle!

      1. Key to bud is he changed his D after the 2003 debacle. Clearly he has issues with his D now with respect to any QB that has a pulse in the running game. When the QB is a good runner and has any one who can win a jump ball, we lose.

    2. I wouldn’t trade Bud for any DC in the country, but history tells us that he hasn’t figured out how to stop a mobile QB. For years, his D has been sliced up by a running QB. Doesn’t seem to matter who the players are.

      1. Not always true when we game plan for one…we completely shut down one of the best running QBs we ever played (Denard Robinson).
        I’m not sure why our DEs can’t tackle AT ALL?!?

        1. That’s partially due to Denard couldn’t really pass. Other than that ONE time he never stops them

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