After a blowout loss to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech looked to respond against a 22nd-ranked Boston College team looking to set up a major game with Clemson next Saturday with a road win. The Hokies were the much better team in the first half, but the second half proved to be the Hokies' nemesis once again.
Virginia Tech lost to #22 Boston College 31-21, dropping the Hokies to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the ACC with BC improving to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC.
Defensively, the Hokies were much improved in this game despite the fact that they were without multiple starters and suffered a pair of injuries to Bryce Watts and Xavier Burke during the game. However, the Hokies' defense eventually started to wear down with Boston College scoring 21-straight points in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Hokies' offense once again stagnated in the third quarter as the Hokies once again seemed to go away from what was working. After a solid start to the game and a first half where Ryan Willis went 16-19, the Hokies fell apart offensively in the second half with only 7 points while failing to taking advantage of quality field position. The passing game went quiet as Willis was only 9 for 23 in the second half.
Willis finished the game 25-42 for 281 yards and 3 TDs (plus 1 INT) along with 51 yards on 9 carries. While his first half performance was great, his second half was the opposite as Willis was kept under 70 yards through the air.
Hezekiah Grimsley led the Hokies with 6 catches for 53 yards while Dalton Keene had 3 catches for 65 yards including 0 second half catches. Eric Kumah had 6 catches for 35 yards and a TD while Damon Hazelton had 2 catches for 40 yards and a TD. Steven Peoples had 4 catches for 39 yards and 12 carries for 39 yards.
For Virginia Tech, Justin Fuente and the Hokies have plenty of questions to answer about another awful second half. This is the third-straight home game where the Hokies have collapsed in the second half after VT had no response to Notre Dame's fast third quarter while Georgia Tech pulled away last week during the third quarter. This is also the third-straight home game that the Hokies have been outscored 14-0 in, showing quite well how VT is losing games with a poor 3rd 15-minute stretch.
Youth can only be an excuse for so long and the Hokies' awful second half performances has become a consistent problem. Going forward, Fuente and his staff have to address the consistent second half failures that have held this team back time and time again this season. If not, the Hokies will likely be sitting on their couches in December instead of playing in Charlotte in the ACC Championship which, despite the loss, VT is still in control of their destiny for.
Boston College received the first possession and after a solid second down gain from AJ Dillon, the BC passing attack brought the drive to a halt with Virginia Tech's passing defense having a couple solid plays to force a punt. Virginia Tech followed with a short drive of their own picking up a singular first down before punting themselves after an incompletion to Sean Savoy on what looked like a catchable pass. During that possession, Bryce Watts left the field with trainers with a fractured forearm suffered on the opening drive, ending Watts' day.
Boston College's second drive had more success as the Eagles gained a couple first downs before a 27-yard gain via a creative double reverse, flea flicker, wheel route complete from Anthony Brown to Korab Idrizi. Boston College converted on a third and 10 a few plays later with Anthony Brown gaining 12 on the read option followed by a three-yard TD run from AJ Dillon to give BC a 7-0 lead. During that drive, Xavier Burke suffered a game-ending Achilles injury.
After Boston College sent the kickoff out of bounds, Virginia Tech only needed one play to get into BC territory via a 24-yard completion to Dalton Keene. On a third and 8 two plays later, Hezekiah Grimsley made an impressive one-handed catch to get the first down and keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Damon Hazelton went up over star Boston College cornerback Hamp Cheevers to catch a 26-yard touchdown pass, tying the game up at 7.
Virginia Tech's defense rode the momentum holding Boston College to the first 3 and out of the game foe either team. Virginia Tech was only able to get a single first down, but Oscar Bradburn flipped the field with a 72-yard punt and roll. The Hokies' defense took advantage holding Boston College to a 3 and out to get the ball back at their own 39, their best field position of the day.
The Hokies took advantage of the field position gaining 27 on a swing pass to Steven Peoples, 15 on a pass to Hezekiah Grimsley, and 14 to Damon Hazelton to set themselves up with a first and goal. After a pair of rushing plays only gained VT 3 yards, Ryan Willis found Eric Kumah who showed great coordination catching the 50-50 ball and getting a foot in the endzone for the touchdown, giving the Hokies a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Following the touchdown, Boston College converted a third down early with a completion from Anthony Brown to Ben Glines. However, the Hokies' defense stepped up and was able to keep Boston College from getting to midfield.
Virginia Tech came out firing once again starting with a solid run from Ryan Willis followed by a 20-yard gain by Dalton Keene on a checkdown pass. Two plays later, the Hokies had another big gain on a screen pass from Ryan Willis to Deshawn McClease that turned into a 26-yard gain. VT faced a big fourth down a few plays later, but Ryan Willis gained a yard with a Chris Cunningham personal foul pushing VT back 15 for the following first down. However, the Hokies were in under fourth down situation a few plays later and were unable to convert a 4th and 5.
However, Virginia Tech's defense responding holding Boston College to a 3 and out to get the ball with 50 seconds and a timeout. Virginia Tech started moving the ball with a few solid gains into BC territory. Ryan Willis went down after a big hit as it looked like he had the wind knocked out of him. However, the brief injury forced in Hendon Hooker who mishandled a snap that was recovered by Boston College. BC was unable to take advantage with the Hokies taking a 14-7 lead into halftime.
After a poor defensive performance against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech's defense came out firing in the first half holding Boston College to only 126 yards of offense, one of their best defensive halves of the year against FBS competition. That defensive success included holding AJ Dillon to 57 yards and a TD on 14 carries while Anthony Brown was only 8-16 passing in the first half. The defensive effort was led by 8 first half tackles from Divine Deablo and 7 from Rico Kearney filling in for an injured Rayshard Ashby.
Meanwhile, Ryan Willis shined in the first half going 16-19 for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns, balancing out a rushing attack that struggled with Steven Peoples and Deshawn McClease having 24 yards on 10 total carries. Dalton Keene had 3 catches for 65 yards in the first half to lead the receivers while Damon Hazelton had 2 catches for 40 yards and a TD.
Virginia Tech started the second half with a 3 and out followed by what looked like a Boston College 3 and out. However, the Eagles were saved by a running into the kicker that gave them a first down though Houshun Gaines appeared to barely touch the punter in what was a really weak and poor call. Boston College took advantage on their first play with a big gain into Virginia Tech territory. However, Virginia Tech's defense forced their first turnover with Anthony Brown fumbling the ball and Divine Deablo recovering it at the VT 35.
Despite the big turnover, the Hokies were unable to take advantage with their second-straight three and out to start the second half. Boston College was able to find some offensive momentum including a 17-yard pass play from Brown to Tommy Sweeney and a 13-yard run by AJ Dillon on back-to-back plays. After that, Travis Levy broke free for a 29-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game up at 14 midway through the third quarter.
Virginia Tech followed with another 3 and out possession with Boston College's Michael Walker returning the punt to the VT 43 after a 28-yard return. However, the Eagles failed to take advantage after a dropped snap by Anthony Brown led to a 14-yard loss that led to a 3 and out and a punt. However, the Hokies made a big mistake on the second play with a Damon Hazelton drop and deflection being intercepted by Brandon Sebastian, giving BC the ball at the VT 19. BC took advantage with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Korab Idrizi giving Boston College a 21-14 lead.
Virginia Tech started their next possession with a 13-yard gain to Hezekiah Grimsley, but would find nothing after that and punt it away once again. However, Virginia Tech stopped Boston College on four-straight plays including a fourth and one to get the ball at the Boston College 41.
Form there, the Hokies' offense started to find their rhythm with a 13-yard completion to Grimsley on the second play of the drive. However, the Hokies' drive stalled out after that with 3 straight incompletions including a second down drop by Eric Kumah. Then, Brian Johnson missed a 46-yard field goal as VT failed to take advantage of a golden offensive opportunity.
Once again, it was a disastrous third quarter for the Hokies as Boston College flipped the margin while Ryan Willis struggled going 4-13 for only 40 yards and an interception off a Damon Hazelton drop.
After that, Boston College pushed towards Virginia Tech territory but after a second down holding and a third down catch that was overturned as incomplete, Boston College was forced to punt.
Virginia Tech came out quick on their drive with a 12-yard run by Steven Peoples and a 14-yard completion to Eric Kumah. However, Virginia Tech stalled out after that ending the drive with a failed conversion on fourth and 2 to give Boston College the ball at the VT 49.
Boston College took advantage of the great field position marching down the field relatively quickly including a big rushing play by Anthony Brown to get BC a first and goal at the 10. Travis Levy got the final 10 yards on the next 2 plays to give Boston College a 28-14 lead.
On the next drive, Ryan Willis had a big run but suffered an injury on a late hit, leading to Quincy Patterson coming in. However, the Hokies' offense kept moving with Patterson at the helm gaining a pair of first downs on the ground. Willis returned 2 plays after the second first down from Patterson, and the Hokies' offense kept moving with a Steven Peoples draw play getting VT 8 and a first. Then, Willis followed that with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tre Turner who made a great catch to make it a 28-21 game with just under 5 minutes to go.
Boston College came out and stepped up with a 37-yard gain from Brown to Tommy Sweeney on their first play. The Eagles kept moving the ball driving into the Hokies' redzone and taking away valuable time. Boston College made a 28-yard field goal to take a 31-21 lead with 2:31 to go, a two-possession that was basically insurmountable.
Virginia Tech didn't have much left on their final possession with Ryan Willis scrambling but sliding well short on a 4th and 20 play that described the first and second halves of the game well for VT. From there, Boston College kneeled it out to cement a 31-21 victory.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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