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Virginia Tech Falls To Syracuse, 31-17

Hokies drop first A.C.C. game of season

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies entered the Carrier Dome in upstate New York to take on the Syracuse Orange. The Hokies were a double digit favorite, but someone forgot to tell Syracuse the plan. The Orange started the scoring with a 58 yard bomb from Eric Dungey to Ervin Phillips. Mook Reynolds got beat deep in single coverage, and it was 7-0 after 1:49. Virginia Tech’s offense looked sluggish in the beginning, but managed to get Joey Slye in range to hit a 36 yard FG midway through the first quarter. Slye was wearing the “25” jersey for his excellent special tams play last week.

On the first play of the second quarter, Syracuse went deep into the playbook. QB Eric Dungey pitched to Dontae Strickland on a sweep. Instead of running, Strickland pulled up and hit a streaking Brisly Estime on an 84 yard shocker. The Hokies were clearly fooled on the play, and just like that it was 14-3 ‘Cuse.

The Hokies did not have an answer on the ensuing drive. Hokies’ QB Jerod Evans tried to run on a 4th and 1 attempt, and was stuffed. The Hokies did not look in sync offensively at all, and were making multiple mental errors. On the next possession, Syracuse had another long pass that put them deep into Virginia Tech territory. The Hokies defense stiffened, and held the Orange on 4th and goal from the one.

Both teams traded punts before Virginia Tech put together a solid drive. On 4th and 1, Jerod Evans broke an apparent 18 yard TD, but a flag nullified the play. The Hokies were forced to attempt a 44 yard FG, but Joey Slye hooked it left. Syracuse added to the misery when Cole Murphy bombed a carrer long 51 yard field goal. At the end of the first half, the Hokies trailed 17-3. The Carrier Dome Curse was in full effect, and the Hokies needed to make major adjustments during the break.

The Hokies received the second half kick, and promptly marched down the field. Evans found Isaiah Ford on a 12 yard fade for the score. Joey Slye’s PAT was blocked, and the game was 17-9 early in the third. Travon McMillian had some impressive runs on the drive, and we had a one score ballgame. Both teams put together solid drives in the third quarter, but were stymied by red zone interceptions. Evans was looking for Chris Cunningham and was picked off on the goal line. The Hokies got in gear late in the third quarter putting together a solid drive that culminated in a TD by Bucky Hodges on a screen pass. Evans found Chris Cunningham on the two point conversion, and we were suddenly tied 17-17.

The fourth quarter began with an excellent Syracuse drive. QB Eric Dungey did a masterful job with his arm and his legs. The Orange consistently found themselves in 3rd and shorts, and were converting all of them. Dungey stuck it in from the one to cap a 16 play drive from the Orange. With a little over 8 minutes left in the game, Syracuse 24 Virginia Tech 17.

Virginia Tech went three and out on their next possession, and Syracuse had great field position after a short Hokie punt. Dungey was running all over the Hokies, and the defense had no answer. Syracuse appeared to seal the ball game when Dontae Strickland busted up the middle for a 16 yard touchdown. The Orange was up two touchdowns with only 5 minutes left in the game. The defense looked gassed, and being on the field for the entire half didn’t help. Ken Ekanem left the ballgame with an apparent leg injury, and the tired defensive line was having trouble keeping up with the Syracuse backs.

Jerod Evans fumbled on the next Hokie possession which summed up the day perfectly. Virginia Tech will face Miami next week. They must improve in every aspect, or expect a similar result. Syracuse dominated in all phases and deserved the impressive win.