The afternoon started off with some decent enough news for the Hokies. There weren’t a ton of missing starters from the lineup, Justin Hamilton was to coach his first game from the sideline, and it looked like the weather was a wet cool Fall drizzle.
The opening kickoff went to Carolina, and with a solid mix of intermediate passes with only one drop lasting more than 3 seconds, with some solid inside runs, Carolina marched down the field from the 25 to punch it through from the 2 yard line. The only real stop was a holding penalty on a pass play where Howell took longer than the 3 seconds that they averaged. 7-0 Carolina
The Hokies started with a Touchback gratis on the kickoff and opened with a short side run by Khalil Herbert. Burmeister was in at QB, and the five-yard pickup to start was looking healthy. The Hokies followed up with a short side flair pattern too close to the line of scrimmage to be useful, and Tayvion Robinson was tackled for a modest 2 yard gain. Burmeister again passed to the short side at about 10 yards downfield to Tre Turner, but the pass was knocked out. Tech looked like they were going for it, but ended up with Burmeister pooching it putting an unprepared Carolina inside their 20.
Carolina false started, but then picked up the 1st anyway. Tech’s D was still a bit off kilter. And Carolina goes deep for the TD. 14-0 Carolina Hokies have no answer.
The remainder of the 1st quarter resulted in a complete disaster. The three and out and punt that followed resulted in a Carolina Touchdown drive highlighted by a Carolina QB scramble for a first down and 15 yard assist with an ejection of Chamarri Conner for a targeting situation. 21-0 Carolina
Hokies get the ball at the 25 and finally work their first 1st down to Nick Gallo with a bit less than 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter. That event seemed to spark something in the Tech offense. Tech then put out a nice outlet pass to Tre Turner who got the ball in the red zone, and a couple of emphatic runs by Blackshear and Burmeister, resulted in a 3rd and less than a yard Goal to Go situation. A quick Fullback/H-Back sweep to James Mitchell resulted in a nice untouched touchdown for the Hokies. 21-7 Carolina
The Tech Defense finally got a stop but even with a penalty assisted extra 10 yards, Tech’s Offense (now being run by Hendon Hooker – who is really rusty) went 6 yards on Hooker’s legs, and then -2 on poor play calling. The final pass to James Mitchell on the RPO was in tight coverage and dropped. He was a yard short of the first, anyway. To add insult to injury the normally precise Oscar Bradburn put the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Tech managed to force another 3 and out by the Tar Heels, who suddenly look a bit more human with a 3rd down sack of Sam Howell by Amare Barno. The resulting punt, fair catch and reappearance of Braxton Burmeister on the field started a different momentum. The Hokies started to run the ball on cutbacks, and Quarterback keepers. The Burmeister Herbert Show started burning up turf. There was an aggressive 4th down and less than 1 conversion attempt in Hokie territory, and a reverse roll scrambling throw to Tre Turner, but the highlight was Khalil Herbert who started to gain some traction and finally put the ball in the corner of the end zone for a Hokie Touchdown. 21-14 Carolina
Hokie Defensive line struggled on the ensuing Carolina Drive… Williams and Carter seemed to have the same feel has Herbert for most of the yardage with a short backwards pass going to Newsome for the touchdown, but Newsome was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, but the points still went up. 28-14 Carolina
Tech’s next drive went largely no where and without burning the clock allowed Howell to go deep for a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left on the clock. Virginia Tech’s defense is pretty much lost, and the Offense finishes the first half with inconsistent to poor play calling and bad luck. Carolina stretches the lead back to 3 touchdowns, and there is only a half left for any amount of redemption for Tech.