After an exciting and somewhat startling first season, Justin Fuente leads the Virginia Tech Hokies to their 24th consecutive bowl appearance. After winning the Coastal division of the ACC and barely losing to the No. 2 Clemson Tigers during the ACC Championship game the Hokies find themselves facing the Arkansas Razorbacks, in Charlotte, NC, at the Belk Bowl!
Arkansas won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, but it didn’t matter because Evans and Rogers muffed a handoff on the first play of the game, and the Razorbacks recovered on the Hokies 26-yard line. The VT defense put a tourniquet on the wound and held Arkansas to a field goal. On their second effort, the offense went directly to Bucky Hodges for ten yards. The Hokies soon found their way into third and long, but Evans to Cam Phillips resulted in a 38-yard gain and VT found their way into Razorback territory. On the next play, Evans was sacked. An incomplete pass later the Hokies faced third and eight. Another incomplete pass forced a fourth down. Considering the field position and wind the Hokies went for it, but Evans was again sacked and VT turned the ball over on downs. The Hokies defense again forced a three and out, and Cam Phillips received the Arkansas punt deep in VT territory.
The Hokies started their third drive at their 11. A Jerod Evans run and another Phillips reception later VT found themselves with a first down and out of their own red zone. Bucky Hodges got back into the action with a 15-yard gain off a sweep! After two Travon McMilian runs the Hokies faced another third and long, needing ten yards to convert. A completion to Ford came up short and the VT punt crew hit the field. Ludwig pinned Arkansas at their ten-yard line, but Arkansas QB Austin Allen hit Dean Stewart for 19 yards. Two plays later and Allen had another big pass play when Devwah Whaley got away for 26 yards, and into VT territory. Things started getting out of control when there was another big pass play from Allen when Keon Hatcher poured another 19 yards into the drive. You might think that the Razorbacks were done, but nope, a 20-yard completion to Drew Morgan, and a five yard two foot run later, Arkansas found themselves second and goal. Allen took the ball in himself and the Hokies found themselves down. 0-10.
Perhaps a spark, on the ensuing kick-off, Henri Murphy returned the kick for 47 yards, and the Hokies started in Arkansas territory. After a scary review to determine if Ford fumbled or had an incomplete pass, the Hokies got moving again, before floating a ball that was picked and returned into Hokie territory. In another long pass play, Allen hit Cheyenne O’Grady for a 28-yard TD. The Hokies now trail, 0-17, and the first quarter was not complete.
Finally, VT found the second quarter, and another third down, in which Evans was stuffed on a QB keeper. Ludwig came out to punt again, but a 21-yard return from Hatcher set Arkansas up, near mid-field, on their 46-yard line. It didn’t take long for the Razorbacks to find their way back into the Virginia Tech side of the field and then quickly into the Gobbler red zone. The Belk Bowl disaster continued and after another fantastic catch by Keon Hatcher, and an official review later, the Razorbacks led the Hokies, 0-24.
The Hokies took the kickoff and a few plays later Cam Phillips found Arkansas territory again. A tackle for loss and an Evans carry later the Hokies faced third and nine at the Razorback 42. After a serious pass interference no-call the Hokies punted the ball. Again.
Arkansas QB, Allen, continued to put a clinic on the Hokie secondary, hitting Hatcher (AGAIN) for 20 yards. Mr. Allen wasn’t satisfied with that previous play and immediately hit Drew Morgan for 36 yards and the Razorbacks found themselves back at their second home in Hokie territory. The defense finally held and forced Arkansas to punt, where they pinned the Hokies at the VT eight. Evans hit Hodges for 15 yards before adding 33 yards, of his own, on a QB rush. An incomplete pass to Bucky and a stuffed run later the Hokies were back at third and six billion light years… Okay it was third and 12. Evans was forced to scramble back to the line of scrimmage before being tackled. Ludwig put Arkansas inside their red zone, again, and continued to make his case for Virginia Tech’s Belk Bowl MVP.
Arkansas pitched a three and out, and the Hokies were poised to make a run during the last two minutes of the half. Cam Phillips muffed the punt, but it seemed that the Hokies had recovered the fumble. In the most inexplicable, absurd, lengthy referee conference with Arkansas head caoch, Bret Bielema, the officials decided that it was actually an Arkansas ball. No doubt, this call will be discussed, at length, in the coming days. Anyway, the Hokie defense held them to three and out and Virginia Tech had 0:46 to get something on the board.
The Hokies were able to get into Razorback territory, but Joey Slye missed a 47-yard field goal attempt. The Hokies enter the half, shut out, 0-24.
Things are not going well for the Hokies. Here is a picture of the Hokie Bird petting a dog, to make you feel better.