The Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the Rhode Island Rams 34-17 on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium to improve to 4-2 on the season. This was sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker’s second career start for Virginia Tech and he was terrific. Hooker completed 16 of 27 passes for 261 yards and three scores. He had a few passes that went off the fingertips of his receivers. Damon Hazelton is a difference maker, eventually some of those barely missed or dropped flag routes are going to get hit. The rust might have been affecting Hazelton’s fingers and timing a bit. That gets shaken out with playing.
Tech’s running game was mostly solid, particularly Deshawn McClease. McClease carried the ball 12 times for 124 yards and a score. Hooker didn’t quite have the success running the football this week as he did in his first start, finishing with just 43 yards on 15 attempts. Sacks, of course, cut into his totals, but he did have some important runs that went for first downs. Freshman Keshawn King finished with 30 yards on six attempts. Freshman Tahj Gary got his first career action, almost scoring a touchdown but was ruled out inside the one-yard line. Dalton Keene is keeping his name in the Hokie star player hopper as well.
Defensively, the Hokies allowed the Rams to hang around far too long. Rhode Island was still in this game when the fourth quarter began, which is inexcusable. Too many times when the Hokies actually got pressure on Rhode Island quarterback Vito Priore, he got away and found an open receiver down the field. Also, penalties hurt Tech’s defense on more than one occasion as it was about to get off the field but either an offsides penalty or pass interference kept the Rams on the field.
Senior Reggie Floyd was called for targeting in the fourth quarter and ejected. He will have to sit the first half in next week’s important Coastal tilt against North Carolina. As a whole, Virginia Tech’s secondary struggled against Rhode Island, particularly Jermaine Waller and Jovonn Quillen at times. Caleb Farley was good but did have a pass interference on third down that kept a drive going.
Three defenders who did play well were freshman linebacker Alan Tisdale, freshmen defensive tackle Norell Pollard and sophomore nickel Chamarri Corner. Conner had a huge sack in the fourth quarter when Rhode Island had a first and goal. The Hokies held and got off the field.
It’s Tech’s second win of the season against an FCS team and the Hokies have all ACC games remaining on the schedule outside of the one trip to South Bend, which is considered non-conference because Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame.
We’ll be covering the game in a bit more detail, and the Wrap up podcast will be available before mid week.
It’s a win by 17. There are still things to address, but we’ll take it.