Coming off a big road win over a ranked Duke team last week, Virginia Tech had a lot of hype around the program. Saturday night's game against Notre Dame brought the buzz down a bit, but the Irish are a national power and legitimate playoff contenders this season. While the loss does sting, some Hokies had solid performances in yesterday's game. Wide receiver Damon Hazelton and defensive back Khalil Ladler have earned Hokie of the Game honors.
Offensive Hokie of the Game: Damon Hazelton
In a game that was very close in the first half, a couple of big plays is all it took to get some momentum going. Damon Hazelton provided some of those plays on a key drive late in the second quarter.
Notre Dame had just scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and things seemed to be swinging their way. With 1:08 left in the half, Hazelton and Ryan Willis led the Hokies down the field. Willis and Hazelton connected four times on the drive that ended in a three-yard touchdown reception by the sophomore receiver. Every reception that Hazelton made on the drive resulted in a first down and he totaled 47 yards on those four catches. The touchdown made the score 17-16 in favor of the Irish, giving Virginia Tech a bit of momentum going into halftime.
Overall, Hazelton made 12 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown on the night. His longest reception of the game came on a third down and resulted in 19 yards. He led all Virginia Tech players in receptions and yards, finishing with 83 more yards than Eric Kumah, the Hokies' next leading receiver.
Defensive Hokie of the Game: Khalil Ladler
On the other side of the ball, sophomore defensive back Khalil Ladler made an impact for the Hokies as he registered nine tackles in the game. Wearing the honorary No. 25 jersey for the first time, Ladler seemed to be all over the field, making play after play against the Irish offense.
Ladler's biggest play of the game came in the form of a sack on a first down in the second quarter. Ladler tackled Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book for a loss of eight yards, and the Hokies ended up getting a stop on the drive as Notre Dame was forced to punt three plays later.
Ladler's nine tackles were the most he has made in a game this season. Four of his tackles were solo and the sack on Book was the first of his career.
Congrats to Damon Hazelton and Khalil Ladler on being the Hokies of the Game against Notre Dame.