By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. —
Eric Kristensen smiled like he is living a dream.
It’s understandable, since essentially he is.
Virginia Tech’s freshman placekicker wasn’t even on the roster until late September, but Saturday the walk-on’s pivotal three first-half field goals helped the Hokies beat Virginia 16-6 on Saturday night.
“I knew the offense would give me chances and stuff, and I just wanted to put points on the board for us,” Kristensen said. “I felt confident. I just wanted to give the team an advantage.”
His success at doing just that also has coach Frank Beamer smiling at his good fortune.
Just over two weeks ago, Beamer dismissed longtime kicker Cody Journell from the team after the last in a series of undisclosed missteps, and a miss by Kristensen from 34 yards against Maryland proved costly. He later connected from 31 yards, but that was in overtime, and the Terrapins countered with a touchdown to win it, 27-24.
“That was my first kick as a Hokie and I felt a little nervous,” Kristensen said of the miss.
All was forgiven as Virginia Tech beat Virginia for the 10th consecutive season. Kristensen’s kicks covered 22, 30 and 38 yards, the last a knuckleball after Kristensen said his foot scraped the ground.
“We’ve had our issues with field goals, but we found a little kid from Ann Arbor, Michi-gan,” Beamer said, a wide grin filling his face. “Kristensen. I just called him ‘Michigan’ for the longest time.”
Kristensen emerged from a kicking competition before the Maryland game, but even though Beamer, who doubles as the Hokies’ special teams coach, liked his ball flight and accuracy, he still was a little bit skeptical about the 5-foot-11, 186 pounds on a good day placekicker.
“You kind of look at him and you say, ‘What the heck is this?”’ Beamer said, laughing at his words. “‘I’m going to send you up here to win this thing for me?’ But he answered the bell. I’m proud of him.”
And if Beamer calls Kristensen “Michigan” any more, it will strictly be as a term of affection.
“They know my name now,” the kicker said.