Well, that’s all folks, not for the Hokies, they have two more games to play, and only if the Bowl game is within driving proximity would it even be thinkable to go. Orlando is completely out of the question, the wallet and leave calendar for my job won’t allow the trip. So the big ‘6’ on my Sideline Media Pass was going to be it for me this season.
What a season it was, too. What Bucket List contains – ‘Cover Alma Mater’s football games from the sideline’? I think I’ll have to invent one for the Hokie Bucket List and submit it. Before anything we, here at Gobbler Country need to extend our deepest thanks and great appreciation to Whit Babcock and Pete Moris for their steadfast belief in the possibilities of the “New Media” and allowing us to cover this season from both the Press Box and the Sideline. We know that it is a privilege granted judiciously and we hope that we have met their expectations.
The series title, though is “View from the Sidelines” so let us get started. Saturday November 26th started off mostly cloudy and a very chilly 33 degrees, it might have been a bit more on the sideline by kickoff, but there was little else but wind and cold on the field for warmups and pregame photos.
Lane Stadium looks sort of small and very quiet when the crowd is sparse. You notice more, the paint job had changed in the end zones, and there were coats and gloves everywhere.
Frankly I was a bit nervous for the camera since I hadn’t operated it at such low temperatures. As with anything electronic and lens filled, the cold can effect both motor, focus, and glass fogging. My pre-game pics were mostly just to see how it performed and what I needed to do to adjust. I also got a chance to see the players up close without the game activities in the way. Sometimes you get a read on what folks are thinking and how they might react to the game pressure.
When I took the picture of Sam Rogers, to note his wearing of the #25, it’s really not difficult to imagine what a great game he would have. At that moment, he was thinking of more things than the fact that it was cold. He certainly wouldn’t be feeling it in a few hours, that’s for sure.
It was a huge recruiting day and the crowd out to see the players warm up and look at Lane from the field was pretty huge.
There was a big ceremony honoring the Seniors. Coach Fuente was new, but the year had given him an opportunity to know these young men, and it really affected both him and them for this final time on Worsham Field
The game, itself, started off a bit slowly. It wasn’t poorly played or mistake ridden, but there was definitely a methodical feeling around for what could work, and how hard to press. Early plays were mostly runs and Sam Rogers was featured.
The first real attempt to Bucky Hodges didn’t connect, but it was obvious that the one on one coverage from the Wahoos wasn’t going to hold for long.
Sometimes taking pictures on the sideline, which means looking at the world through a telephoto lens and snapping away, you sort of miss the punts that are spiraling out of bounds about to clock you right in the face.
The Wahoos were pinned deep in their own territory, and the stadium was roaring like a jet engine on afterburner.
The new wrinkle that seemed to enthuse UVA Coach Bronco Mendenhall was switching QB, so Benkert got more than a few snaps, and so he was introduced to Mr. Ekanem very early in the process.
Finally the Hokies began to get some traction, and even with a Peoples bobble (which he picked right up and still got the first down) the Hokies managed to get a touchdown on the board courtesy of a power run by Sam Rogers. But first the Hokies needed to get nearer to the end zone.
Of course the sideline folks had to scatter because something bigger than a football was incoming on another attempt to get the ball to Bucky.
The next pass was up to Isaiah Ford who secured the ball and got down inside the 10 for a long 1st and goal to go.
Then Sam did the M-1 Abrams Tank impression to drive the ball across the goal line.
There were some more great shot opportunities. Here is one of Jerod Evans setting up to throw after rolling out. (He actually ended up running on this one)
Then there was Bucky chasing another incompletion, but he stayed focused on the ball and nearly caught it.
Then there was the beautiful touchdown pass thrown to Cam Phillips over single coverage. This one turned out to be a really interesting picture as Cam goes up for the ball over the defender and you see he’s got a target lock on it.
You get an idea of what it’s like to be across the field from a big play when Sam Rogers roared into the left corner of the South End Zone to score his second touchdown.
The next picture is Bucky Hodges stretching out every inch of his 6’7” plus arms to try for a seam pass that just was off the finger tips. He was shaken up hitting the ground, ball, and both his arms, but came back with a vengeance.
Sometimes even great receivers get a good defensive play made on them. Isaiah Ford had this one, but the Wahoo defender knocked it away, saving a touchdown for the moment.
On that series with a 4th down and three to go for the Touchdown, Coach Fuente left the offense on the field, and Jerod Evans scored his single rushing touchdown for the game.
At the Half, there was that thrilling moment when the team is headed to the field meeting room in the South end of the West stands, and you are stuck on the field taking pictures. Why not make the best of it?
I really liked this one of Chuck Clark, as he jogged by for the break.
The second half, The Wahoos just couldn’t manage to get out of their own way, or Woody Baron’s way, as the case may be.
The next series, Bucky finally caught his touchdown pass, but first he had to get to the end zone. It’s interesting the sorts of hand fighting you can catch in a single frame.
And this one of Jerod Evans as the score registers both on the Jumbotron and to Evans.
As Coach Fuente started subbing in the 2nd and 3rd string, Brenden Motley took the helm, and promptly tossed a touchdown pass to Travon McMillian.
Joey Slye showed everyone how the Hokies and Hokie Nation Felt as the game began to wind down and Garbage time set in with an eye toward the end.
This is why Joey was so happy. At 52 to 3, with a few minutes left in the 3rd, the game was finished, but there was still a quarter to be endured before the celebrating could begin.
The End was glorious for the Seniors. Here are Sam Rogers and Chuck Clark hoisting the cup, followed by the entire Hokie Football Senior Class to celebrate and remember. There are still two games to play, and next week we have a huge challenge to face in a very skilled and dangerous Clemson Tiger Football Team. But for a day or two, we can celebrate.
So we end this with Andrew Motuapuaka and the ACC Coastal Championship Trophy for 2016.