Over the course of a 12-game regular season, you are not going to be able to have your best game every single week. However, the best teams are able to find ways to win even when they are definitely not at their best.
Yesterday was one of those days for the Hokies and unlike what happened in the Carrier Dome last month, the Hokies found a way to get the job done in Durham.
#19 Virginia Tech went on the road and got a win against a stingy Duke team 24-21 to move to 7-2 on the season and 5-1 in the ACC. The Hokies maintained their control of the ACC Coastal and only need to beat Georgia Tech and Virginia to win the Coastal and play in the ACC Championship for the first time since 2011.
The Hokies did not have their best performance yesterday but they found a way to get the job done with special teams making a big impact due largely to Greg Stroman’s blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown by Adonis Alexander that proved decisive in this close game. The blocked field goal was the latest big special teams play the Hokies have had with James Shibest doing a great job bringing somewhat of a special teams revival this season.
Jerod Evans was far from perfect in this game as he seemed apt to put his head down too quickly and try to run the ball which led to a few sacks while also having some issues overthrowing a few receivers. However, Evans made some plays and helped lead the Hokies to victory with another solid game in which he had 83 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries plus he was 15-for-27 through the air for 192 passing yards.
Evans was not perfect and definitely has some room to improve but he always found ways to make sure the Hokies were able to take care of business.
Against an average Duke rush defense, the Hokies were able to have more success running the football with Travon McMillian having a much-better week with 15 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. McMillian was able to get on track after his struggles at Heinz Field last week and the Hokies will look for McMillian to continue to be productive going forward.
Isaiah Ford continued to creep closer to a major Virginia Tech career receiving record as Ford led the Hokies yesterday with 4 catches for 62 yards, putting him just four receptions away from breaking Jarrett Boykin’s career reception record.
C.J. Carroll was fairly involved as the redshirt sophomore had 3 catches for 27 yards while Cam Phillips had 3 catches for 37 yards, Travon McMillian had 2 catches for 33 yards, Henri Murphy had a 9-yard reception, and Bucky Hodges had 2 catches for 24 yards including a great tip drill catch to not only help prevent an interception but get the catch and a first down.
The Virginia Tech defense didn’t have its best game but the Hokies’ defense stepped up in some big moments to make sure the Hokies were able to take care of business and get a much-needed win.
Woody Baron was one of the stars of the game as the senior defensive tackle made his fair share of big plays with 9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. Baron should absolutely receive some major recognition from the ACC media and coaches after the season as he has become one of the best defensive tackles in the conference.
Terrell Edmunds made his fair share of big plays yesterday having 14 tackles to lead the Hokies. However, Edmunds had a targeting call against him in the fourth quarter that will cause him to be suspended for the first half of the Hokies’ game next week against Georgia Tech.
Tremaine Edmunds also made his fair share of games as the sophomore linebacker continues to impress, having 10 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 QB hurry yesterday against Duke while veterans Andrew Motuapuaka and Chuck Clark each had 8 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
Greg Stroman has played fairly well for the Hokies on returns and at cornerback but the junior cornerback suffered an ankle sprain yesterday that caused him to miss the rest of the game after picking up that injury from a hit on a punt return. Currently, it is unknown the timetable for a return for Stroman though a return against Georgia Tech seems unlikely right now.
Overall, Justin Fuente and the Hokies found a way to get a win when they were playing far from their best, and that is the number 1 thing that will matter on a day in which a few top 25 teams fell to unranked opponents including #4 Texas A&M. The Hokies took care of business and now are in great position to win their first Coastal title since 2011 with their final two ACC games coming at home.
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