The beautiful weather in Blacksburg for a noon game is always interesting. The Hokies took the field in relatively healthy shape, and Liberty was sporting a new attitude about its capabilities and prospects. Tech deferred and kicked off. The Flames came out running the ball with pretty consistent gains. After a few fits and starts, Liberty converted a 4th down and 3 to keep the ball. Tech’s defense continued with its 4th and short woes… and then the Tech pass defense collapsed on a 32 yard pass play into the end zone. 7 – 0 Flames
The Tech offensive series, wasn’t. The Hokies opened with a really lame delayed jet sweep to the boundary side which was snuffed at the line of scrimmage and then a quarterback draw that barely made 2 yards. The obvious 3rd and long passing situation broke down and the Liberty linebacker assigned to spy Hooker dropped him for a meager 2 yards… Bradburn’s punt went 49 yards.
The Flames opened with a snuffed play, and then Willis threw the ball poorly on an out route that sailed, or quacked, incomplete. Amare Barno tipped the ball on a 3rd down pass attempt and Hewitt nearly picked it off. Tech got the ball back with a nice Tayvion Robinson return. Tech tried a few plays in close, then lost Khalil Herbert to a hamstring injury – out for the game. Tech manage one good pass play to Tre Turner, and a scramble from Hooker to get the ball into -4 range. Brian Johnson hit the long three. 7 – 3 Flames
Liberty began their drive on their own 20, and proceeded to drive the ball on the ground with several back-side break offs by Willis. The Tech defense didn’t seem to be able to keep the contain on the back side of the play where Willis continued to convert broken plays. Ultimately on 4th and 3 Willis converted a broken play an near tackle into a 1st and goal with a deep pass to Kevin Shaw on a completely nuts 35 yard completion. 14 plays for the TD… mixed it up, and the Hokie’s defense is down Barno who looks like something happened to his leg. 14 – 3 Flames
Liberty’s kickoff went out bounds for the Flames but Tech’s first play was stunned by a holding call. The 2nd play on 1st and 20 ended up with Hooker getting chased down from behind. After getting some of that back. Then a skinny post went to Tre Turner to get the 1st down. Then Hooker took the ball around the end to get it close to the Red Zone. A 15 yard late hit penalty on the Flames got the ball inside the Flames’ 15, with four punches the Hooker only offense seemed to bog into the dirt, until a Roll out tight end flag route scored a TD. 14 – 10 Flames
The Flames took the ball back on some trickeration and then started on a fit and start sort of drive that ended with a 3rd down and 6 after two hard hits by Conner and a nice tackle on Willis by Hewitt. The Hokies get a strip sack from Norell Pollard resulted in a turnover with the Hokies on the Flames’ 30 yard line. Three runs by Hendon Hooker later and the Hokies were in the South End Zone and nabbed the lead. 17 – 14 Hokies
Liberty took the touchback and then committed a delay of game penalty and then miscommunicated a deep pass. Then Willis began his running stint. And the Flames were aided by a 15-yard penalty unfairly called on Dorian Strong for daring to tackle hard. Then took advantage of some Strong inexperience. Ultimately though, with goal to go, Willis tried to do too much and fumbled on a sack. A premature whistle unfairly stopped Chamarri Conner’s scoop and score but the Hokies averted disaster, and started a drive.
The Hokie 2-minute drill drive started with some nice mixed runs and passes to get the ball down to the Flames’ 25-yard line. A beautiful out to Evan Fairs moved the ball to the 15, and with 8 seconds on the clock Jalen Holston got the ball to the 1 and a half. But with only 4 seconds left on the clock Brian Johnson was called in to put a -4 up. 20 – 14 Hokies
So far the Hokies have benefited from their ability to generate turnovers on defense. 2nd half the Hokies get the ball first.