Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

October 27, 2013

Upset in Blacksburg

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech’s six-game win streak came to a grinding halt.

Duke has conquered the Commonwealth, after the Blue Devils made it 2 for 2 against ACC competition from Virginia, shocking No. 16 Virginia Tech 13-10 in front of a stunned Lane Stadium crowd of 63,326 on a cool Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.

 It was a historical victory for the Blue Devils, who beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since 1971, and beat a ranked team anywhere for the first time since 1994.

 “There’s a lot of history involved,” said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, whose Blue Devils will play in a bowl game for consecutive years for the first time in program history. “It is a historical victory and they should be proud of that. It is a distinct step in the right direction and it is a big step.”

 Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1) had won its last five games by 10 points or less, but this close one went against the Hokies, which saw its 12-game win streak against the Blue Devils come to an end, having last lost to Duke in 1981. Duke had never won in Blacksburg.

 “I think every week is different,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “Every week is a grind and we just didn’t come out on the winning side tonight. Duke just came out here and beat us.”

 Duke (6-2, 2-2) took a 6-0 lead at the break on field goals of 53 and 51 yards by Ross Martin, and went up 13-0 in the third quarter on a nine-yard run by Anthony Boone.

 “I give Duke a lot of credit. They came in here and played well,” Beamer said. “I thought they made a lot of plays and the ball bounced their way and not ours a couple of times. That’s the way it goes and you have to take advantage of opportunities.

 “I think that we can learn a lot from this video and become a better team because of this game. We have to win the next one. We’ll see what happens with Duke the rest of the way,. If they don’t win out, we’re back in it.”

 Virginia Tech allowed just 198 yards — 58 less than its average heading into the game _ and also picked four off four Boone passes, three by freshman Kendall Fuller.

 “If you had said we would have held them to 13 before the game, I would have thought we would have been good,” Virginia Tech senior linebacker Jack Tyler said. “Our offense has really been getting a lot better lately, but for whatever reason, today it just didn’t happen.

 “It is on us too. If we don’t let them score then we win…It is just a little bit everywhere, we just didn’t execute well enough and we didn’t make enough plays, and that is kind of what contributes to a loss.”

 Virginia Tech did have 387 yards on offense, 315 of which was produced by senior quarterback Logan Thomas, but the Hokies were victimized by four interceptions and two missed field goals by Cody Journell, one of which could have tied the score at 13 with 6:02 left in the game.

 The Hokies also had a touchdown nullified by a penalty in the second quarter, and on the next play, Thomas was picked off in the end zone.

  “Well we didn’t do our most important job,” said Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, whose Hokies had the ball for nearly 40 minutes in the game. “We didn’t take care of the football. Four turnovers and a touchdown called back. A combination of a lot of things, but anytime you don’t take care of the football, you won’t win the game.”

 The loss dropped Virginia Tech a game behind Miami in the Coastal Division after the Hurricanes slipped past Wake Forest earlier in the day 24-21.

 “We’re still in the running,” Beamer said.” If Duke wins out, it’s in their hands, but if not, it’s up to us. That’s the way I look at it.”

 Duke, which rallied past Virginia for a win last week, scored first on a 51-yard field goal by Martin with 12:27 left in the second quarter.

 Virginia Tech followed with a 17-play drive, highlighted by a quick-snapping, hurry-up offense, with Thomas connecting with D.J. Coles in the back of the end zone for a score, but Coles was moving before the snap and the touchdown was nullified. On the next play, Thomas tried to force a pass into coverage and Ross Cockrell picked it off.

 “I thought we were doing all right, we were able to run the ball, we were able to pick our spots, but we were able to do a lot of what we wanted to do,” said Thomas, who ran for 101 yards and threw for 214. “We established the running game early, but we just got to execute.”

 The Hokies’ only other first half chance to score was a 45-yard field goal attempt that was missed by Journell, who has now missed an uncharacteristic six field goals this season.

 “Everybody has bad games, it is a tough thing that happened and we really needed it, but you have to stay on his side and believe in him and believe he will come around,” said Virginia Tech wide receiver Demitri Knowles, who had a game-high four receptions for 69 yards.

  Martin didn’t miss, making a 53-yarder at the halftime buzzer to send the Blue Devils into the locker room leading 6-0.

 “I thought getting on the bus in Durham was different,” Cutcliffe said. “I call it focused. We’ve had a really good practice these past two weeks. I had no doubt that it would pay off before the game. They were locked in pretty good, but it wasn’t tight like I had seen us before.”

 The Blue Devils scored its lone touchdown on their first second half possession, assisted by two penalties on Virginia Tech, a 15-yard pass interference call on Tyler and a 10-yard holding call by Kyshoen Jarrett that moved the ball to the 26. Boone then ran three times for 6, 11 and 9 yards, and the lead grew to 13 on the extra point by Martin with 6:14 left in the quarter.

 “We’ll go back and look at the video and I think we’ll see some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of,” Beamer said. “I do give credit to Duke for what they did. They took advantage of everything.”

 Virginia Tech finally got on the board late in the third period on a drive that started at the 1 after a replay on a punt reversed the call of a touchback. Thomas immediately threw a long pass from his end zone and Knowles made a juggling catch for a 56-yard gain.

 Thomas later ran for 17 yards, connected with Coles from 18 to the 5, and then rambled into the end zone with 11 seconds on the clock. Journell followed with the extra point to narrow the margin to 13-7. It was Thomas’ 24th rushing touchdown for the Hokies, breaking the record for quarterbacks held by Tyrod Taylor.

 Journell was then able to connect on a 42-yard field goal on the Hokies next possession to cut the lead to 13-10 with 9:23 to go, leaving Tyler feeling good about Virginia Tech’s chances down the stretch.  

 “I thought we were. I thought with the crowd and the way it was going and the way the momentum shifted there, I thought we were good to go,” Tyler said. “We just kind of stalled a little bit and couldn’t get the stops there at the end that we needed. It is disappointing.”

 Virginia Tech got the ball back at the Duke 43 on a third interception by Fuller, who is just a freshman, drawing rave reviews from Foster. Luther Maddy led the Hokies with eight tackles.

 “The kid played a tremendous football game. That ‘s what we signed, and he really showed everybody what he’s all about,” Foster said. “He had some great breaks and did a great job with his coverage concentration.”

 Thomas was able to connect with Coles from 10 yards, and Thomas ran for eight yards, putting the ball at the 31. Journell, who hit the left upright of the goal post in his first half miss, was wide left on this one, missing from 40 yards with 6:02 on the clock.

 Virginia Tech struggled on third downs, converting just 4 of 18, but was 4 of 6 on fourth down.   

 “This group will come together,” said Loeffler, of the Hokies’ kicking game. “We’re going to finish this thing the right way. It was a tough lesson, but sometimes you have to take a step back before a step forward.”

 Virginia Tech got the ball back, but Kelby Brown was able to pick off a deflected pass for Duke with 4:22 left in the game. Duke was then able to run out the clock with Boone and backup quarterback Brandon Connett running for first downs to secure the win.

 “They played hard for four quarters and made some plays down the stretch,” Foster said. “I was proud of how we played, we played hard for four quarters, but sometimes maybe the best team doesn’t win, and I think today was one of those days.”

 Duke was led on defense by David Helton, who had 19 tackles, and Brown with 14. The offensive numbers weren’t pretty, with Boone completing just 7-of-25 for 107 yards and four picks, and led the Blue Devils with 44 yards on the ground. Duke was 0 for 11 on third down.

 “It was tough, because we turned it over ourselves,” Beamer said. “I don’t think we played a Virginia Tech football game tonight, but Duke has some very good players and they’re extremely well-coached. They’re playing with confidence as well. I give them all the credit.”

 Virginia Tech will play three of its final four games on the road, beginning on Saturday at Boston College, followed by a showdown at Miami that might not be as big as once thought.

 Just don’t tell that to the Hokies.

 “My hat goes off to those guys, they played hard,” Foster said. “I’m sorry for our kids because they played extremely hard. There is a lesson there, we’ve got to come back together.

 “If we win out we win our division. That’s the bottom line. We control our own destiny.”

 — Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

 

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