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Halftime: Hokies Trail Fighting Irish, 14-24

The Virginia Tech Hokies are off to a slow start in South Bend.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the very first time in program history.  VPI is coming off a stunning loss against conference rival Georgia Tech.  Notre Dame’s season has been an incredible disappointment, and the pre-season College Football Playoff hopefuls need to win today and next week, against USC, simply to qualify for a bowl berth.  Under cloudy skies and suffering from a 26-degree wind chill, the Hokies and Fighting Irish took the field.

The Fighting Gobblers kicked off to Notre Dame to start regulation.  The Irish suffered a false start to begin their first series and immediately recovered with a 29-yard pass play.  Notre Dame QB, DeShone Kizer, showed what he can do with his legs when he ran for nine yards and carried the team into VT territory.  Then the Fighting Irish completed ANOTHER 20+ yard completion.  A few plays later, ND punched it in from the one, to take the lead, 0-7.

Jerod Evans and the Hokie offense took the field and looked to generate a spark with a 14-yard completion to Sam Rogers.  Three plays later Evans was sacked, fumbled, and the Irish recovered.  During ND’s drive, the Hokies looked to have reversed their fortune with an interception, but it was called back on a defensive off sides penalty.  The Hokies made a goal line stand, holding the Irish to a field goal.  With 4:26 left in the first quarter Notre Dame led, 0-10. 

Without Greg Stroman, Henri Murphy, set the Hokies up for success with a 34-yard kickoff return.  The Hokie offense returned to the field, starting from their own 43-yard line.  VT struggled with the QB / RB ball exchange and the Hokies fumbled, but Evans recovered.  The Hokies weren’t done, and one high snap later, which Evans saved, and the Hokies offense offered up a three and out. The first quarter ended with the Hokies being outgained 173 yards to four.  FOUR YARDS TOTAL.  Notre Dame also dominated time of possession, 12:29 to VT’s 2:31.

The Irish kept their drive alive, from the first quarter.  Kizer hit, Chris Finke, for a 31-yard touchdown to put the Irish up, 0-17.  Murphy delivered another excellent return, of 36 yards, and again provided the Hokies with good starting field position.  The Hokies started the drive by going to their all-star.  Evans hit Ford for six.  VT started stringing together a series of positive plays and earned some first downs on their way into Notre Dame territory.  Virginia Tech finished the series off with Jerod Evans dragging the Hokie offense, kicking and screaming, into the end zone with a 23-yard QB run.  The Hokies were on the board with 11:28 left in the half, 7-17.    

With momentum building on their side, the Hokies defense also answered the call and, after almost earning a safety, forced an Irish punt from deep in their own end zone. ND’s boomed ta 65-yard punt, reversing the field, and the Hokies started on their 30-yard line.  After an extremely questionable offensive penalty, it was clear that Coach Fuente was very frustrated, which resulted in an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Hokie head coach.  Between the two penalties the Hokies faced Third and 24 at their own 16.  After a six yard Rogers rush the Hokies punted… again.  Notre Dame took over on their 40.  Notre Dame executed a rapid march, down the field, to score another touchdown.  Notre Dame increased their lead, 7-24.

With 6:00 remaining until the break, the Hokies took over on their 25 after a touchback.  Once again the Hokies suffered a QB exchange fumble, although the Hokies recovered.  Facing 3rd and 11, Evans took the ball himself and ran for a VT first down.  C.J. Carroll immediately hauled in an 11-yard pass.  After a seven-yard run by Rogers the Hokies found themselves in Irish territory.  A roughing the passer penalty gifted the Hokies 15 yards.  With two minutes left to play the Hokies invaded the ND red zone. Cam Phillips had an absolutely gorgeous move and took the ball into the end zone.  Virginia Tech cut into Notre Dame’s lead, 14-24.

The Irish took over on their own 28 with just over a minute left.  The Hokies defense forced a fourth and inches after a Notre Dame challenge against the ball spot.  After the punt the Hokies took a knee and headed to the locker room behind, 14-24.

Go Hokies!!!

Virginia Tech Notre Dame
First Downs 11 15
Third Downs 3-6 3-7
Fourth Downs 0-0 1-1
Total Yards 137 299
Passing 61 199
Completion - Attempts 7-10 13-18
Yards Per Pass 6.1 11.1
Interceptions 0 0
Rushing 74 100
Rushing Attempts 20 23
Yards Per Rush 3.7 4.3
Penalties 4-30 7-53
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Interceptions 0 0
Time of Possession 12:27 17:33