Before game start, the Virginia Tech Hokies honored their legendary defensive coordinator, Bud Foster. After the celebration, Clawson and the 7-1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons won the coin-toss and deferred to the second half. VT’s opening drive was one of the season’s best. The Hokies converted two fourth downs and took nine-and-a-half minutes off the clock on their way to a first-and-goal at the Demon Deacons’ seven-yard line before a muffed shotgun snap pushed them back to the 19. They didn’t find the end zone and settled for a field goal, taking an early 3-0 lead. The defense didn’t give WF much time with the ball, forcing a three-and-out. Hooker hit Terrius Wheatley on a quick pass over the middle that Wheatly took streaming down the center of the field for 50 yards before he was stripped of the ball. Wake quickly reversed field with a 32-yard pass play to the Hokie 27. Bud Foster’s defense didn’t break, and the Deacons were only able to tie it up with a 40-yard Nick Sciba field goal. Ball control cost the Hokies a potential 14-0 start during the first quarter, but the defense held Wake to a measly 50 yards, one first down, and 0-3 on third downs.
The second quarter was not as good to the Hokies. Virginia Tech again found themselves in the WF red zone, but couldn’t consummate, and VT retook the lead with a field goal. Jamie Newman and the Deacon offense showed how capable they can be when they marched 75-yards down the field before Sage Surratt caught an 11-yard TD, putting Wake ahead for the first time in the game. The ball control issue that has plagued the Hokies all season reared its head again when Hooker fumbled in the Wake red zone. The teams headed to their locker rooms with the Demon Deacons leading 10-6.
Wake Forest was held to another three-and-out by the Virginia Tech defense after receiving the kick-off to start the third quarter. The Hokies first touch of the second half started off promising after a 33-yard punt return by Tayvion Robinson. This time the Hokies didn’t stall in the red zone and Deshawn McClease scored on a two-yard run to put VT back in control 13-10. The Demon Deacons didn’t wait long, and Newman hit Surratt for a 24-yard touchdown. After three years of continued effort the sweep FINALLY worked when Tre Turner found a hole and scorched the Deacons on a 57-yard run to the 17-yard line. McClease again found the end zone and put the Hokies back on top. An immediate Newman interception put the Hokies back in a position to score. Brian Johnson made it three for three on the day and grew the lead, 23-17.
Virginia Tech carried that lead into the fourth quarter and the offense was firing on all cylinders, crossing the 200-yard rushing mark with 13 minutes left in regulation. Damon Hazelton had a fantastic 19-yard catch and run to put the Hokies on Wake’s one-yard line. Mitchell ran it in for the score to put the Hokies up 29-17 after a failed two-point attempt. With just over seven minutes left in the half the Hokie defense held Wake on a fourth down attempt and took the ball on the VT 31-yard line. The Hokies knocked two minutes off the clock before Oscar Bradburn pinned the Demon Deacons on their own nine-yard line. Dax Hollifield picked off Newman and the Hokies took over on the Wake seven-yard line. Hooker ran it in himself on the very next play. With the TD the Hokies put the game out of reach, 36-17. In a stunning move, after an injury to starting WR Surratt and falling behind by three scores, Clawson benched his starters and the second string suffered until the completion of regulation.
The defense played inspired and the offense finally looked to click. Miscues and ball control continue to plague the Virginia Tech Hokie offense, while the defense struggles with giving up big plays. Both influenced the game today, but the fact that these young men are keeping up with nationally ranked programs in back-to-back games is heartening. The improvements they made to execution allowed them to snag the season’s best win thus far. The second half was the most complete game the team has played all season and a testament to what they are building in Blacksburg. At 6-3 the Hokies only need one more win to be bowl eligible and must have their eyes on the Coastal crown. But first, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets next week.