Virginia Tech made history Saturday putting up the most points in Commonwealth Cup history on their way to a 55-17 victory over UVA. The Hokies were dominant in every phase of the game with plenty of standout performances that made this a difficult decision.
However, two Hokies rose above the rest to be our Hokies of the Game.
Offensive Hokie of the Game: Bhayshul Tuten
There may not have been a bigger star Saturday than Bhayshul Tuten who went from having two touches against NC State to scoring touchdowns in two different ways in the same game for the second time this season.
Tuten ran for 117 yards and a touchdown on only 16 carries and had a two-yard reception giving UVA issues throughout the first three quarters before starters were pulled in the fourth quarter. He also added a 94-yard kick return TD in the third quarter that included Tuten saluting Tech fans from around the UVA 30 given how far gone he was. He had this to say about that celebration after the game.
"Yeah, there was no doubt that I was scoring. I knew I wasn’t getting caught. I looked up at the jumbotron around the 30, and I saw that there was nobody close so I pointed up to the fans to salute them," Tuten said.
Bhayshul Tuten has been a star for the Hokies this season and if he returns to Blacksburg next season rather than test his luck in the pros, he'll receive tons of Preseason All-ACC consideration.
Da'Quan Felton continues to be a big play machine having three catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns in this game including his seventh and eighth receptions for 30+ yards this season. Kyron Drones may not have had a great completion rate at 10-22, but he made plenty of big plays throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns while adding 50 rushing yards on the ground.
Dae'Quan Wright had another strong game with three catches for 64 yards while Stephen Gosnell had a big 44-yard touchdown early on a fourth down conversion and Tucker Holloway had a 33-yard rushing touchdown on a brilliant double reverse.
Defensive Hokie of the Game: Pheldarius Payne
This was one of the toughest decisions of the season given how many standout performances Virginia Tech had in this game. However, the 757 native playing in his first and only Commonwealth Cup stood out the most to earn our Defensive Hokie of the Game honors.
Pheldarius Payne put on a show in this game with seven tackles including three for loss with one sack plus a QB hurry and a pass breakup. This finishes off a stunning breakout regular season for Payne after moving to the interior coming off an injury he suffered almost immediately after his arrival at VT from Nebraska in the summer of 2022.
Payne didn't receive much playing time early in the season, but things changed at Marshall where Payne broke out and gave Tech the interior penetration, especially on pass rush, that the Hokies needed. Since then, Payne has been one of the best defensive tackles in the ACC finishing the regular season with 29 tackles including 9.0 for loss with 4.0 sacks plus five QB hurries and one pass breakup.
Payne has been a force for the Hokies since he's gotten his chance and put on arguably his best performance of the season in his first and only Commonwealth Cup. While he still has one more game in a bowl, ending his collegiate career with that type of performance against UVA for a 757 native is a way to finish off his collegiate career.
Cole Nelson received tons of consideration after having arguably the best performance of his career with six tackles including 2.0 sacks (assisted on 3 sacks), personally shutting down the final UVA drive of the first half to keep the Cavaliers scoreless in the first 30 minutes.
Alan Tisdale and Norell Pollard both played well in their final Commonwealth Cups with Tisdale having eight tackles including 0.5 sacks plus two QB hurries and Pollard having two tackles for loss including one sack. Dorian Strong had four tackles and two pass breakups in what has been a tremendous season from him while Antwaun Powell-Ryland had three tackles including 1.0 tackles for loss with 0.5 sacks plus two QB hurries.