Head coaches, Justin Fuente and Dino Babers, met for the second consecutive year, albeit with different teams for the 2016 season. Last year, coaching the Memphis Tigers, Coach Fuente was able to defeat Coach Babers and the Bowling Green Falcons, 44-41.
Last year, Dino Babers, and the Falcons were able to strike first, scoring a touchdown in the first two minutes that featured an 75 yard opening drive that included a 62 yard reception. This year’s game against the Syracuse Orange must feel a bit like deja vu, for Coach Fuente. Another 75 yard opening drive that featured a long pass play, a 58 yard touchdown pass, and the Syracuse Orange were up early against a Virginia Tech Hokies defense that seemed caught off guard. After trading punts the Hokies were able to put together a decent drive that resulted in a Joey Slye field goal, and the Hokies closed the gap 3-7. The next four drives resulted in punts with both offenses combining for only 51 total yards.
During the first play of the second quarter the Syracuse offense was able to catch the VPI defense asleep and Dontae Strickland was able to hit Brisley Estime for an 84 yard strike, putting Syracuse up 3-14. On the ensuing drive the Hokies decided to go for it on fourth down at the Syracuse 38. There seemed to be some miscommunication on the field, and the Orange were able to sniff out the play and halt Evans on the keeper. The Syracuse offense showed no signs of slowing down and on 4th and 5, Eric Dungey hit Steve Ishmael for another big pass play, 31 yards, down to the Hokie's two yard line. The Hokies defense was able to stand and force another fourth down. The Orange went for it, and this time they didn't make it, turning the ball over to the Hokies at their one yard line. The Fighting Gobblers were able to get out of their end zone with a 16 yard strike to Bucky Hodges. Syracuse was able to stuff the run, but Evans was able to hit Ford for 15 yards on a crucial third down to get out of the VT red zone. The Hokies, after incomplete passes to Phillips and Ford and a short run from Williams, punted. The Orange started on their 13. Syracuse was able to string together several runs and short passes, quickly returning to VPI territory. Dungey was hit hard during a second down incomplete pass and was down for some time before limping off the field under his own power. There was a problem with the exchange on third down and Syracuse missed a 53 yard field goal attempt.
Evans quickly answered with a 29 yard completion to C.J. Carroll and the Hokies quickly reversed field and found themselves just outside the Orange red zone. After a questionable penalty called back an impressive Evans TD run, Slye also missed a FG attempt. Syracuse took over and was able to convert multiple passing first downs and again return to VT territory. At this point, they should just get a timeshare on VT's side of the field. Syracuse tried another long field goal to close the half, and this time their kicker, Cole Murphy, was able to hit a career long 51 yard score. Syracuse leads Virginia Tech, 3-17.
The Hokies have done just enough to avert complete disaster, but Virginia Tech has looked flat and confused for the majority of the first half. Hopefully some mid-game adjustments will result in a more explosive, complete effort for the second half. Let's Go Hokies!!!
|Virginia Tech||Syracuse Orange|
|Completions / Attempts||11 -18||18-31|
|Avg Yards Per Pass||8.2||9.5|
|Avg Yards Per Rush||3.0||2.3|
|Penalties / yards||3-21||5-30|