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Virginia Tech Survives Monsoon to Beat Tulane 41-20 in 2023 Military Bowl

Bhayshul Tuten Team 1 VT Tulane 2023 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

The rain played a significant role in the 2023 Military Bowl, especially in the second half as full monsoon conditions seemed to kick in. However, Virginia Tech was able to withstand the conditions better running right through the storm and the Green Wave on their way to victory.

Virginia Tech beat Tulane to finish the season at 7-6, their first winning season under Brent Pry and first for the Hokies since 2019 when Tech went 8-5.

Fumbles played a significant role in this game with Virginia Tech having five and Tulane having three. However, the Hokies were able to recover all but two of their fumbles while the Green Wave were unable to recover any of their three fumbles. Tulane got 10 points total off the two fumbles they recovered including one returned for a touchdown, while Tech got two touchdowns off the three fumbles they recovered with the third stopping a Tulane touchdown drive.

Virginia Tech's rushing attack slowly implemented its will in the second half of this game with Kyron Drones and Bhayshul Tuten giving Tulane plenty of nightmares. The Hokies ran for 362 yards total while averaging an impressive 7.2 yards per carry against a Tulane run defense that had almost their entire front 7 available. That rushing attack helped the Hokies avoid a single second half punt scoring on their final four drives prior to the drive that ran out the clock.

Kyron Drones led the show for the Hokies with 176 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, breaking the Virginia Tech bowl game rushing record previously held by J.C. Coleman who had 157 rushing yards in the 2014 Military Bowl. Drones also went 13-21 for 91 yards and two touchdowns, and did have a couple fumbles himself, but was strong overall fighting through the slick football and conditions well.

The most impressive thing for Drones may have been his composure, bouncing back well from his multiple fumbles and continuing to play with great confidence.

Bhayshul Tuten also showed off why he may be a Preseason All-ACC RB in 2024 with 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries plus two catches for 19 yards. Tuten made plenty of Tulane tacklers miss while showing off his speed as he's done all year to get to the edge and turn up field for big plays.

Third and fourth downs were key for Virginia Tech going both ways as the Hokies were 7-14 on third down and 2-2 on fourth down while Tulane was 2-10 on third down and 2-3 on fourth down.

The passing game wasn't used a lot due to the conditions and the dominance of the run game. However, Tech was able to make some plays through the air even in these tough conditions. Tight ends played a big role despite Dae'Quan Wright entering the transfer portal previously with Benji Gosnell having two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown, and Harrison Saint Germain adding two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown. Drones actually had Saint Germain open earlier but too much air on it allowing the DB to make a play.

Tech's defense had its ups and downs in this game struggling to contain Tulane RB Makhi Hughes at times, with Hughes having 15 carries for 88 yards. However, the Hokies collectively held the Green Wave to only 4.0 yards per carry. They also did a great job tracking the ball down and taking advantage of the Tulane fumbles to recover all three.

Pheldarius Payne had one of the plays of the year for the Hokies forcing a fumble on a goalline play with an incredible jump off the snap on his way to having two tackles including one for loss with a forced fumble. Keonta Jenkins was one of the stars of this game for the Hokies with six tackles including two for loss while Antwaun Powell-Ryland recovered the Payne forced fumble and had a tackle for loss.

Alan Tisdale played fairly well in his final game with the Hokies having seven tackles including 0.5 for loss while Mario Kendricks added two tackles and Norell Pollard added one in their final games for VT.

The conditions weren't ideal, but Virginia Tech fought through plenty of adversity and kept their composure to deliver its first winning season under Brent Pry and as a program overall since 2019.

Overcoming adversity defined the Hokies in many ways this year following a rough 1-3 start. In all of it, Tech adjusted when things didn't go well finding an offensive identity with Kyron Drones at the helm while improving throughout the season on both sides of the football.

That was the case today as well with Tech not getting off to a great start, before the Hokies' rushing attack seized control of this game in the second half and Tech's defense became sharper.

The Hokies enter this offseason looking like a program that has climbed up from the nadir found at the end of the Justin Fuente era and on the field last season, to a program that appears ready to contend again in the ACC, and is worthy of having those expectations. Combine that with the immense amount of talent returning next year, especially on offense, and it's reasonable to expect that Virginia Tech will be serious contenders in the ACC Championship race in year 3 of the Brent Pry era.

Tonight was the end of the rebuild after a successful 7-6 season for the Hokies in year 2 of the Brent Pry era. Let the expectations of the Hokies being an ACC contender again begin for the 2024 season.

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