It was a shaky start to the brief J.C. Price era of the Virginia Tech football program as the Hokies suffered a 38-26 defeat to the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night to fall to 5-6, needing a win at Virginia to become bowl eligible.
Co-defensive line coach J.C. Price made his interim head coaching debut for the Hokies. He stated how humbled he was to have the honor at the beginning of the week, but once the game got underway, he got the true experience of what the position would bring him.
The sight of Hard Rock Stadium wasn’t pretty at all. Despite the temperatures sticking around the mid-70’s, the rain was pounding and the wind was swirling in the stadium all night, playing a huge role in the game.
That didn’t seem to phase Hurricanes’ quarterback Tyler Van Dyke who was phenomenal against the Hokies he threw for 357 yards on 19 of 33 passing which included three touchdowns through the air.
Ever since D’Eriq King went down with a shoulder injury early in the season, Van Dyke has helped the Hurricanes roll through conference play, winning four of their last five contests.
The freshman quarterback had the offense rolling in the first half, where the first four possessions of the game all ended in touchdown drives for the Hurricanes.
One of them included a huge 75 yard catch and run touchdown by wide receiver Brashard Smith, which came right after the Hokies’ first touchdown drive of the night, stealing the momentum right back to the home side.
The Glastonbury, Conn. native found three different Miami receivers for his touchdowns throughout the night, which included a 55-yard hookup to Mike Harley in the fourth quarter to seal the Hokies’ fate.
It wasn’t a bad night for the Hokies at the quarterback position. Braxton Burmeister had a great completion percentage with connecting 14 of his 17 passes and even Connor Blumrick got to show off his arm throwing his first two touchdown passes of his Virginia Tech career.
After Burmeister was stripped on a sack in the first drive of the second half, Blumrick was the man under center for the remainder of the night. After missing a few weeks due to an injury suffered against Notre Dame, the Texas A&M transfer led back-to-back touchdown drives to bring the Hokies within five points.
His first Virginia Tech touchdown pass found the hands of Kaleb Smith, seven yards on fourth and goal, to bring the Hokies back into the matchup.
As the Hokies grabbed a sliver of the momentum, they decided to take an aggressive route to get possession right back with an onside kick. It worked out well for Virginia Tech, as they recovered and went right back to work.
Facing a 4th and medium, Price decided to keep the offense out on the field and Blumrick found freshman wide receiver Da’Wain Lofton down field for a 28-yard reception. Later in the drive, Blumrick found Lofton again for a four yard touchdown, giving the Fort Worth, Texas native his first collegiate receiving touchdown.
The wide receiver core did a solid job at stepping up after Tre Turner was ruled out for the remainder of the game during halftime; although there wasn’t any injury designation, the coaching staff took him out of the game as a precaution.
With some anticipation building for the Hokies, the offense stalled out throughout the remainder of the night, with no drives going longer than five plays and each one ending in a Virginia Tech punt.
After earning ACC Running Back of the Week honors, Raheem Blackshear was noticeably quiet throughout the night with only two carries for four yards and four catches for 21 yards. The whole running back room was only limitedly involved in the game with Malachi Thomas leading all running backs with 39 yards on seven carries.
It ended up being the Hurricanes’ running back Jaylan Knighton as the only running back to get into the endzone, as he did two times during a five minute window in the first half.
The penalties in the first half haunted the Hokies as they committed five of their seven total penalties in the first thirty minutes of the contest; meanwhile the Hurricanes committed five penalties in the whole entire game.
With the Commonwealth Clash set for next week, there are some areas of the field that J.C. Price and the Hokies can clean up before their battle against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Kickoff for that contest has been announced for 3:45 p.m. and it will be televised on the ACC Network.