Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
There were many who wondered and doubted how good Virginia Tech would be against N.C. State especially given the four-day pause within the past two weeks combined with Tech not having Justin Hamilton, Hendon Hooker, Jermaine Waller, and others. However, the Hokies made it clear that they are a serious contender in the ACC with a dominant victory over the Wolfpack.
Virginia Tech blew out N.C. State to open the season 1-0 with the Wolfpack falling to 1-1 on the season.
Tech's got off to an extremely impressive start claiming a 17-0 lead in the first quarter headlined by touchdown runs from Khalil Herbert and Raheem Blackshear with a Divine Deablo interception as well. Tech was steady from there with a dominant rushing attack whether Braxton Burmeister or Quincy Patterson (after Burmeister briefly left with a hand cramp) was in the game to run the show.
N.C. State's offense found some rhythm after a QB change from Bailey Hockman to Devin Leary during the second half, but the Hokies continue to pull away to the finish. Of course, a violent injury to N.C. State freshman DB Khalid Martin late in the third quarter seemed to change the mood surrounding this game.
This was also a game defined in many ways by the standout performances from Hokie transfers starting with Kansas grad transfer Khalil Herbert. The veteran running back was dominant with 6 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown along with 2 receptions for 46 yards. Herbert was also solid returning kicks replacing Keshawn King with 2 returns for 45 yards.
Rutgers transfer Raheem Blackshear was also solid with 8 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown while Youngstown State transfer Justus Reed was the defensive star of the game with 5 tackles including 2 sacks in what was an extremely impressive performance.
Virginia Tech's rushing attack as a whole was dominant with 314 yards on 41 carries with an impressive 7.7 yards per carry. This is also only the third time that the Hokies have broken 300 rushing yards in an ACC game since joining the conference. As a whole, the Hokies averaged an impressive 8.53 yards per play in another show of how dominant they were in this game.
Defensively, Tech was solid especially with CBs coach Ryan Smith calling the plays with Justin Hamilton out as they had 6 sacks and also forced 2 interceptions. They also held the Wolfpack to only 36 yards in the first quarter and under 150 in the first half in what was a very strong start that did slow down as Tech rotated in more backups, third-stringers, and other young players.
The QB duo of Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson shined as Burmeister started and went 7-11 for 106 yards while also running for 46 yards on 9 carries. Meanwhile, Quincy Patterson went in well when Burmeister had what Justin Fuente described as a "pretty severe" hand cramp going 4-6 for 75 yards and 2 passing TDs while running for 47 yards and a TD on 10 carries.
James Mitchell had a big night with 3 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown while Tayvion Robinson had 4 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Tre Turner made the most of limited touches with 2 carries for 53 yards including a 51-yard run late in the first half along with a 16-yard reception.
Outside of Reed, it was mix of veterans and youngsters who shined brighest as Divine Debalo had 6 tackles and an impressive first quarter interception. Meanwhile, Rayshard Ashby played like a Preseason All-ACC linebacker with 6 tackles including a sack.
True freshman Keonta Jenkins played well in his Hokie debut with a team-high 8 tackles and a QB hurry while cornerback Brion Murray filled in fairly well for Jermaine Waller with 5 tackles and an interception.
Tech's conditioning did seem to hold the Hokies back some but overall, it was quite clear that this Tech proved that they have the talent to compete for that second spot in the ACC Championship after Clemson especially with a dominant victory without Hendon Hooker, Jermaine Waller, Justin Hamilton, and more.