The Virginia Tech Hokies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish met on a chilly afternoon, in South Bend, both with something to prove. The young Hokies are looking to establish themselves in the national discussion and show what they can achieve. The Irish, on the other hand, are looking to recover from a blistering loss to the Michigan Wolverines and keep their nearly non-existent College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Quincy Patterson II received the nod as the starting QB for Virginia Tech, but the offense struggled to find any rhythm during the first half. Offensive coordinator, Brad Cornelsen’s dedication to running up the middle is so predictable that I doubt opposing teams spend that much time studying film. VT did put together two decent looking drives before the break. The first came after they received a punt and started their drive on the Irish 45. Patterson hit Damon Hazelton for an eight-yard touchdown that tied it up, 7-7. The second decent drive did not end so well. After a 24-yard strike to Hazelton, Patterson and Tre Turner muffed a hand-off which was quickly recovered by ND and taken to the Hokie 42. With just over four minutes left in the half the Irish were in a fantastic position to send the Hokies into the locker room down by two touchdowns. After driving to the Virginia Tech one-yard line it seemed that was exactly what would happen. Instead, the Irish RB got popped, the ball flew into the air, and Divine Deablo snatched it out of the sky before jetting down the field for a 98-yard fumble recovery TD! The defensive touchdown was exactly what the Hokies needed to stay in the game.
Opening the second half with a four minute 49-yard field goal scoring drive was a much better start than that of the first quarter. The Hokies took the lead, 17-14, for the first time. Divine Deablo added to his already impressive day when he intercepted Ian Book at the VT two-yard line. For the third time the Hokie defense saved the day when the Irish were in scoring position. As the third quarter closed a wintry mix of rain and sleet started to fall. You know what else fell? The ball that Quincy Patterson threw into the hands of Tre Turner from 52-yards away. After three failed attempts to get into the end zone, from the Notre Dame 12, Brian Johnson and the field goal unit trotted out to extend the VT lead by three. An extremely questionable roughing-the-passer penalty erased a third Ian Book interception and kept an Irish drive alive which resulted in a MISSED field goal. On their ensuing drive the Hokies sold out on the run, only passing once, which resulted in a sack, but at least removed 3:30 from the clock. A terrific punt by backup punter John Parker Romo, pinned Notre Dame to their 13-yard line with 3:29 left in regulation. Book only needed 2:53 to drive 87 yards and run the ball in himself. With 0:29 remaining the Irish re-take the lead, 21-20. After an abysmal attempt at a trick play on the kickoff return the Hokies started on their nine-yard line. On a third-and-ten deep ball attempt, Patterson threw an interception to end the game. The Irish survived the Hokies, 21-20.
A solid effort against a tough road opponent by the young men of Virginia Tech. A tough test awaits next week when the Hokies face another Top 25 squad in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.