Virginia Tech derailed the North Carolina hype train on Friday night with a strong 17-10 victory for their first win against a top 10 of the Justin Fuente era, and first for Tech as a whole since the 2014 upset victory at Ohio State.
There were plenty of standout performances, but a pair of Hokies stood out on each side of the ball more than the rest to earn the first Hokies of the Game honors.
Offensive Hokie of the Game: Raheem Blackshear
This was a tight battle, but there was one offensive player who stood out just a little more when given quality opportunities and that was Raheem Blackshear who was used well in the passing game and when given work on the ground, made the most of it.
Blackshear should have easily ended up with more yards, but showed lots of explosiveness and was effective as a receiver and runner with 3 receptions for a team high 66 receiving yards plus 16 rushing yards. Blackshear looked like the player he was hyped up to be and showed that right now, he is Tech's best all-around RB even if he isn't the bruising lead runner that Jalen Holston is.
Braxton Burmeister had a strong first half and a good night overall though he was inconsistent in the second half which held him back from getting this week's honor. However, Burmeister played as well as his UNC counterpart if not a little better going 12-19 for 169 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception plus 42 rushing yards and 1 touchdown on 9 carries.
Tre Turner had a strong night with 4 catches for 64 yards plus a 12-yard jet sweep to seal the game though if not for a drop on a clear TD pass and Burmeister missing him on a wide open third down that would have been a 50+ yard touchdown, Turner would have been the top guy this week on offense.
Jalen Holston led the way on the ground and was effective with 49 yards on 13 carries doing well to keep the chains moving. James Mitchell stepped up whenever his number was called upon with 3 receptions for 36 yards including a touchdown with all three plays feeling like highlight reel moments that certainly impressed the 19 NFL personnel in attendance last night and numerous others watching at home.
Defensive Hokie of the Game: Amare Barno
There's four different players who could easily receive this honor, but Amare Barno made it clear on Friday night that he is one of the best defensive ends not only in the ACC but likely in the country with a standout performance.
Barno was dominant giving both Sam Howell and UNC's running game nightmares all game with 6 tackles including 3.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 QB hurry. Barno was all over the field timing some of his rushes to perfection while being a menace as a run defender, arguably his best strength which gets overlooked often for some reason.
Everyone knew that Barno had the potential to be an All-American level player in 2021 but many wondered if he could do it while no longer being this unknown. He proved Friday night that it doesn't matter if you know he's going to be a major problem because at least the Tar Heels still had no answers for him.
Of course, it also didn't help that Tech had another highly talented DE back in form in TyJuan Garbutt who had 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble in a dominant display all around for Tech's DEs. After dealing with some family health issues that derailed his 2020, Bill Teerlinck had said that Garbutt was "back" in fall camp and he absolutely proved it with his strong performance.
The secondary also had plenty of standouts starting with Jermaine Waller who looked like the healthy, 2019 Waller and then some with 7 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup as he was absolutely dominant. Chamarri Conner showed that he's gotten even better and played extremely well leading the Hokies with 8 tackles along with a big interception. Alan Tisdale was also all over the field as Tech's main will linebacker with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 QB hurry.