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Halftime: Virginia Tech Hokies Lead East Carolina Pirates, 23-17

Virginia Tech v West Virginia Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Last year the Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the East Carolina Pirates, 54-17, at Lane Stadium. This year VT invades Greenville to take on the 0-2 Pirates! Last time VT found themselves in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium they left with 28-35 loss. The Fighting Gobblers seek to continue the dominance they established against ECU last year.

ECU received the starting kick-off and immediately got to work. The Pirates converted a first down when Gardner Minshew, starting in place of Duke transfer QB Thomas Sirk, hit Stephen Baggett for a huge 41-yard pass play. Three plays later Minshew tossed a nine-yard TD to Davon Grayson. After the first drive of the game the Pirates earned their first lead of their season, 0-7. Early in the first quarter this ECU team does not look like the squad dominated by JMU and WVU.

Josh Jackson and the Hokie offense took the field and were quickly met by 3rd and 5. Jackson answered with a 34-yard strike to James Clark. Cam Phillips got into the action with a nine-yard pass before McMillian pushed the pile for a first down. Phillips reception ties the VPI record, set by Isaiah Ford, with 30 consecutive games with a catch. Travon showing some serious power on the Hokies opening drive with hard fought runs of 4, 5, 5, and 6 yards. The Hokies stuck with the running game at the goal line with Steven Peoples rushing four straight times. The last rush was a one-yard TD. With the Slye XP the Hokies evened the score, 7-7.

Slye got the touchback, as is tradition. After a -1-yard run by Dye ECU immediately answered when Greg Stroman was stroked by Trevon Brown and Minshew hit him for a 76-yard TD. Three drives. Three TDs. ECU up 7-14. The Hokie offense returned looking to tie the game back up. A quick strike to Phillips earned a first down, but a few plays later a dropped pass by Sean Savoy resulted in a VT punt. Bradburn’s punt bounced into the end zone and the Pirates took over on their 25.

After stuffing another run the Hokies secondary continued their loose play, and Minshew hit Brown for a 20 yard pass. The big pass play was followed by an acrobatic, one-handed, 27-yard reception by Quay Johnson. ECU found themselves in familiar territory at the VT 34. An extremely questionable targeting penalty, on Greg Stroman, was correctly called a non-penalty. On 2nd and 10 ECU failed to find any ground in the running game. The Pirates faced 3rd and 9. In a disturbing trend ECU was easily able to convert with a wide-open Brown, who passed 100 yards receiving with that catch. VT finally came up with some semblance of a stop and the ECU field goal unit trotted out for a 35-yard attempt. ECU up 7-17.

After receiving yet another kick-off the Hokies started on their 21. C.J. Carroll started the drive off with a nice five-yard jog and then a nine-yard pass to Phillips earned the Hokies another first down. An incomplete pass and short run later and the Hokies faced third and long. Jackson found Henri Murphy for 13 yards. VT went back to the ground with Peoples and McClease before converting another third down with a 14-yard pass to Dalton Keene to close out the first quarter.

The second quarter started with the Hokies threatening in ECU territory. VPI continued to establish the running game with two doses of Deshawn McClease earning 16 yards. The Hokies were 1st and 10 at the ECU 13. The Pirates seem to have sniffed out the running plan and after two short runs the Hokies faced yet another third down. Cam Phillips showed why he will likely leave as the program’s leading receiver with a fantastic 10-yard TD reception. Hokies close the gap, 14-17.

The VT defense finally showed some life and held the Pirate offense to a three and out. A miserable punt by the Pirates put the Hokies on their 36-yard line. Jackson immediately went to his favorite target and Phillips snagged a ten-yard pass. After an incomplete pass, Sean Savoy took a screen pass on a rumbling 17-yard reception. After several receptions, Cam Phillips passed Boykin as the second all-time receptions leader in VT history, with 185. The Hokies again found themselves in the Pirate red zone and returned to the ground with back to back runs from McMillian. ECU’s defense held and forced a fourth down when they caught Jackson on a QB keeper. Slye nailed a 25-yard FG (thankfully) and the Hokies again tied the game up, 17-17.

After the Slye touch back the Hokies served ECU a three and out. The Stroman return was sniffed out quickly and Virginia Tech was further driven back after a block in the back penalty. The Hokies take over on their 21. McClease got the ball rolling (haha) with a three-yard run. Josh Jackson, with the option, pitched to McClease who ripped off a 16-yard run. The Hokies kept it on the ground and faced 3rd and 1, before an off-sides penalty saved the Hokies the trouble of converting, and carried the Hokies into Pirate territory. In a startling turn of events Jackson hit Phillips for 13 yards. ECU sniffed out a James Clark run and tackled him for a nine-yard loss, and immediately followed that with an 11-yard sack. The Hokies were now on the 50-yard line facing 3rd and 30. All was well though because the Pirates committed seppuku with a pass interference penalty on Henri Murphy. The Hokies drive remained alive at the ECU 35, 1st and 10. I am just going to start cutting and pasting the same sentence whenever Jackson throws to Phillips. Cam caught his ninth pass and achieved 100 yards with a 14-yard reception. A duo of incomplete passes found the Hokies facing 3rd and 10 at the ECU 21. ECU held Phillips to a four-yard reception and Slye trotted out for a 34-yard attempt. The Hokies took the lead 20-17.

Guess what? Slye had another touchback. Minshew was sacked by Travon Hill for a nine-yard loss on 1st and 10. ECU faced 3rd and 12 with Coach Fuente burning his final time out, likely in hopes to preserve another scoring opportunity before receiving the ball to start the second half. It wasn’t necessary, because No. 25 Greg Stroman picked Minshew and the Hokies took over with a very short field, starting on the ECU 28. VT was dedicated to the screen pass game, but ECU held and Slye trotted back out for a 37-yard attempt. Slye was good and took over the VT record, with 69 FGs made, from Shayne Graham. The Hokie recovery project continued and the Hokies extended their lead, 23-17. Joey Slye finally did not hit a touch back, but did make the stop when he absolutely planted the Pirate’s kick returner, Hussein Howe.

With three seconds left on the clock the Hokies sacked Minshew, and headed to the locker room riding 16 unanswered points and leading, 23-17. Viriginia Tech will receive the ball to start the second half.

Go Hokies!!!


Will the Hokies defeat the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Yes, but this is way more stressful than it should be. How are you so calm, cool, and collected?
    (11 votes)
  • 21%
    Nope... they will self destruct during the second half.
    (3 votes)
14 votes total Vote Now