It was ugly. The final score, a 15-10 Hokies triumph that saw the running game getting bogged down, the offensive line losing the battle of the trench, and Cody Journell having an uncharacteristic bad day kicking the field goal tries, reflected it.
In the end, none of it mattered, because Bud Foster's lunchpail defense was there to make sure the Hokies secured the win. After the Hokies failed to convert a 4th and 1, the Pirates were backed up close to their own end zone, and with tremendous pressure by the defensive line, James Gayle forced a fumble, which resulted in a safety and effectively sealed the game.
After the defense gave up a touchdown on the opening drive, they held East Carolina out of the end zone for the rest of the day and had harassed the quarterback into committing three interceptions and the ECU's offensive line into giving up seven sacks. It was a vintage Bud Foster defensive performance.
Head coach Frank Beamer said that the Hokies wouldn't be winning pretty games this season in the post game. If he was peering into the future, he was dead on with that prediction. Perhaps Beamer meant to say that the Hokies wouldn't always win with style. Perhaps this is what is in store for the Hokies this fall; Close games that are going to be decided by field position, stifling defense and an offense that grinds out the necessary yards and points to win the game.
Being a Hokie fan is not for the faint of heart, but requiring fans to be stout-hearted. Today may have given some of the fans more grey hair, or shortened their lifespan. Regardless, the most important thing, was that today the defense answered the call that showed they could get a stop when they needed to secure the win.
It came with relentless pressure. It came when the referee signaled safety. The defense made sure of it.
Another important component in today's victory: the special teams did not goof on the onside kick attempt by East Carolina. In the past, the Hokies have made some mistakes that had disastrous consequences (Georgia in 2006, Boston College in 2007 and North Carolina in 2011 come to mind). Not today.
Offensive: A.J. Hughes.
Defensive: James Gayle.