Thursday nights have always been special in Lane Stadium but the blast few years have been disappointing for Hokie fans with no Thursday night games in 2013 and 2015, and a blowout loss to Miami in 2014. After years of disappointment for Hokie fans, Virginia Tech restores the Thursday night magic today.
Virginia Tech made another statement at home with a dominant 37-16 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. The Hokies go to 5-2 in the ACC and continue to be in control of their own destiny in the ACC Coastal along with being as seen as the favorite to win the division. Miami falls to 4-3 with their 3 ACC losses basically eliminating them from the hunt for the Coastal.
The Hokies opened up the game with a strong start as they got a three and out before marching down the field and getting a 48-yard field goal from Joey Slye. Miami responded not long after as they went on a long drive as well that ended in a short field goal. Virginia Tech then started to get going in the second quarter with great field position helping lead to a Joey Slye field goal to put the Hokies up 6-3 after a 34-yard run from Travon McMillian put VT in the red zone.
The Hokies then had a quick three-play drive ending in a touchdown that started with a 9-yard completion from Jerod Evans to Bucky Hodges plus a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Then, Evans hit Sam Rogers over the middle who turned it from a big play into a huge one as he gained 52 yards before Evans found Bucky Hodges for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Hokies had a lot of momentum after getting a field goal just inside the final 90 seconds of the first half put VT up 16-3. However, Miami took advantage of a couple of coverage mistakes and marched down the field to get a late touchdown that seemed to give the Hurricanes momentum until their kicker missed the extra point wide left to keep the score at 16-9.
In the second half, the Hokies slowly but steadily seized full control with a big Travon McMillian run plus a penalty putting the Hokies in great shape for the Hokies to quickly strike which they did thanks to another touchdown pass from Evans to Hodges to take the lead to 23-9. Miami responded quickly with a nice drive that was finished with Brad Kaaya taking advantage of a coverage miscommunication for a 35-yard touchdown to Christopher Herndon.
Virginia Tech responded with one of the plays of the night to end a long drive as Sam Rogers threw a touchdown pass to Steven Peoples to put the Hokies up 30-16 in what seemed to be the moment where the Hokies fully seized control of this game.
Miami’s offense struggled but the Hurricanes regained a little momentum after blocking a Joey Slye field goal that would have likely ended any longshot chance. Then, the Hurricanes went on a solid drive but Miami failed to convert a fourth and 20, basically ending Miami’s chances. Virginia Tech then finished with an exclamation point as Jerod Evans ran for a 34-yard touchdown followed by Enter Sandman being blasted as Hokies fans went nuts in celebration of the 37-16 victory.
Jerod Evans shined on the big stage with a great performance as he went 21-for-33 for 259 passing yards and 2 touchdowns plus 98 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Evans had a couple of bad decisions but otherwise, the junior quarterback once again was quite good and is continuing to show that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC along with being maybe the best quarterback not many know about.
Travon McMillian had his best game of the year as he had 18 carries for 131 rushing yards including an average of 7.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Bucky Hodges had a big game with 7 catches for 66 yards and 2 touchdown with Cam Phillips having 7 catches for 64 yards, Isaiah Ford having 4 catches for 46 yards, and Steven Peoples having a 13-yard touchdown catch. Sam Rogers got involved in plenty of ways with a 13-yard passing touchdown and 2 catches for 72 yards.
Woody Baron as the star of the night on a tremendous defensive performance that included 8 sacks as a defense with Baron having 6 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 2 QB hurries. Baron’s performance is one of the best we’ve seen from a Virginia Tech defensive lineman in the past few years and it came in a game in which the Hokies were without Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams.
Vinny Mihota had to have his shoulder popped back in at one point in the game but Mihota fought through it and had a big game with 5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Meanwhile, Trevon Hill filled in admirably for Ekanem in what was a tough week for Hill after losing his grandmother within the past week and returning from Virginia Beach Tuesday to play tonight as Hill had his best career game with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Tremaine Edmunds continues to be a playmaker and a significant upgrade at the backer spot as Edmunds had 10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Meanwhile, Terrell Edmunds also was a standout as the Hokies’ starting rover had a tremendous interception in addition to having 7 tackles while Andrew Motuapuaka made a few big plays with 2 huge pass breakups plus 2 tackles.
Outside of a few coverage breakdowns, a couple near mistakes through the air, and the blocked field goal; Virginia Tech’s performance was absolutely outstanding against a Miami team that, despite having lost three-straight now, has plenty of talent.
Virginia Tech bounced back from last week’s loss to Syracuse and reasserted that they are the team to beat in the ACC Coastal. However, the Hokies must come out sharp against a Pittsburgh that will be hungry to pull off an upset and stay in the Coastal hunt.