The Virginia Tech Hokies and North Carolina Tar Heels faced off in the middle of Hurricane Matthew. Passing in this game would be significantly harder for both teams and only one team was able to adapt well to the conditions.
The Hokies picked up their most impressive win of 2016 with a 34-3 blowout victory at 17th-ranked North Carolina. For the third straight game, the lead seemed out of reach going into the fourth quarter as the Hokies continue to gain more confidence and momentum.
The Hokies and Tar Heels both struggled some early on offense before Greg Stroman made a great play for his third interception of the year and the first one thrown by Mitch Trubisky in 2016 fairly deep in UNC territory. The Hokies didn’t do much with it but Joey Skye made a field goal to put the Hokies in the lead.
Virginia Tech then forced a fumble and drove into the red zone before getting another Joey Slye field goal to make it 6-0. The Hokies had a botched snap recovered by UNC early in the second quarter that led to a short field goal for the Tar Heels to cut the lead to 6-3.
The Hokies were able to flip the momentum with a great drive all the way to deep in the red zone before a Jerod Evans fumble ended it. However, the Hokies nearly got a safety, forced a punt, and then marched down the field before a short touchdown pass from Evans to Chris Cunningham put the Hokies up 13-3 which wouldn’t change before halftime.
Virginia Tech built on the solid first half even more with a great second half especially in the third quarter to finish this game.
The Hokies recovered a Mitch Trubisky fumble and then had a 22-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Sam Rogers on the next play. Then, UNC had a bad snap on a punt that UNC didn’t give up but did put the Hokies inside the UNC 5. VT took advantage with a fourth down touchdown run from Evans to put the Hokies up to 27-3.
At that point the lead was insurmountable but Virginia Tech did have a couple punting issues. However, the defense stepped up time and time again and got a few big fourth down stops. The Hokies added one more fourth quarter touchdown thanks to a four-yard Travon McMillian after Andrew Motuapuaka caught Mitch Trubisky’s second interception of the game to make it the final 34-3 margin.
Jerod Evans didn’t have his best day but after struggling early, the junior adapted and made plays as he went 7-for-17 for 75 passing yards and 2 touchdowns play 21 carries for 49 rushing yards and a touchdown. Evans has continued to look quite good and is gaining more and more national attention every week.
Travon McMillian played a lot better against the Tar Heels as he had 17 carries for 76 rushing yards and a touchdown. McMillian seems to be gaining some confidence and that should help him start and continue to play better.
Isaiah Ford was held without a catch whole no Hokies had more than 2 catches i, this matchup. The good news for the Hokies’ is that Ford’s injury doesn’t seem to be bad which is a big relief for many VT fans.
Andrew Motuapuaka had a big game on Saturday with 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, and the late interception. Meanwhile, Tremaine Edmunds was also quite good with 7 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup as the main duo of linebackers led the dominant defensive performance.
Greg Stroman was used to punt and proved capable but Stroman also made plenty of plays on pass defense with 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 tackle.
Overall, the Hokies’ defensive performance was dominant and while the weather played a factor, holding UNC to only 3 points is very impressive.
Looking ahead, a big Thursday night showdown in Blacksburg against Miami is looming for the Hokies but they have to take care of business next Saturday at Syracuse before facing off with the Hurricanes. Overall, the Hokies were dominant in what was the biggest statement victory from this team so far under Justin Fuente.