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Virginia Tech Hokies and Duke Blue Devils Battle Tight (10-7 VT) at the Half

The Hokie Defense is keeping the team in the game, but the Hokie offense is sputtering for the half. A big special teams mistake results in the big opening Duke score, and the Hokies offense finally got something moving but neither team is lighting the field on fire.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Duke
A catch..NOT... Hokies are struggling on O, though.
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it happened. Before the game even started, the COVID curse managed to rear up and bite the Virginia Tech secondary and midfield. Saturday morning the roster was slashed and the Hokies took the field minus; Divine Deablo, Alan Tisdale, Armani Chatman, JR Walker, Jermain Waller and Brion Murray. In addition to those critical losses acting field DC Ryan Smith was out, and Justin Hamilton was back in Blacksburg on the couch, too. The game could be a seriously challenged football game.

The Hokie defense got a decent stop for the opening series with a nice sack on 3rd and 7, but the offensive series was not well executed. Instead of opening with some good runs and intermediate plays the Hokies had Burmeister and Tayvion Robinson try a deep pass that bounced out of Tayvion’s arms on tight coverage. The follow up running play lost yardage, and the 3rd down just didn’t connect, either.

Then disaster struck. After a nice stop, Duke’s punter put some serious foot in the ball and kicked it over Tayvion’s head. Robinson unfortunately attempted to field a ball that was nearly 10 yards behind him, touched it, and then three players including Tayvion booted it into the endzone where Duke picked it up for an “own goal” on Virginia Tech.

So the Hokies get saved on 3rd and 4 by a late hit/roughing the passer call on Duke. That gave the Hokies a chance for Burmeister to drop a 30+ yard dime to Tayvion Robinson who was looking for some redemption Hokies then scored with a nice seam rip to James Mitchell.

The ensuing drive, Duke worked to drive the ball, getting several quick running plays and the Hokies’ Rayshard Ashby grabbed a critical sack to force a Duke punt. That punt, however was almost as good as Duke’s other punt, putting Tech on its 1. Tech was bailed out of the hole with a PI on Duke but any chance of a drive developing stalled out with some inconsistent play calling and execution. Bradburn inexplicably woofed a Rugby style punt for no hang time, but the Blue Devils got the ball back in good shape at the end of the 1st quarter with Tech and Duke tied at 7 apiece.

The Hokies managed to get a great stop on defense, after another stalled offensive effort. Bradburn put a serious foot in a punt, and Tyler Metheny sealed the deal with a nice sack. The Hokies got the ball back on their 19, and a chance to get some thing going. Tech finally put together a solid drive including two third down conversions and even a really nice trickle out 4th down and 2 first down to Nick Gallo. The big issue remains that Tech seems to have a serious disaffection for the wide/field side of the football field. The drive stalled on the 4 yard line and Brian Johnson was sent out to grab the -4. 10-7 Virginia Tech with 3:14 left in the half.

Tech had a great stop, and then started driving to close to Field goal range with less than a minute left in the game, but Burmeister inexplicably threw the ball to the wrong jersey. The Hokie Defense has owned this game and the sack by Emmanuel Belmar at the end of the half is probably the story of this game.

The Score... Virginia Tech 10 Duke Blue Devils 7

Let’s see if the Offense can get its bearings and score another TD. Tech gets the ball first in the second half.

GO HOKIES!!!