The No. 25 Liberty Flames took down the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday afternoon 38-35 with a last-second field goal to move to 7-0 on the season.
The loss drops Virginia Tech to 4-3 on the season.
This was a wild game from the beginning as Liberty quarterback Malik Willis dominated early. Virginia Tech’s defense could not stop the Flames, but two fumbles helped the Hokies move out to a 20-14 lead over Liberty at the half.
The second half saw Liberty jump back out in front and had a 28-20 late in the fourth quarter when Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker put the Hokies on his back.
Hooker led the Hokies to a game-tying score late in the fourth quarter by finding Kaleb Smith for a nine-yard score. Hooker would connect with Raheem Blackshear on the two-point conversion to make it 28-28.
Tech went back on defense and Willis led the Flames to another touchdown to make it 35-28.
Hooker was not finished.
The junior quarterback led the Hokies on a six-play, 79-yard drive that lasted just 49 seconds. He found wide receiver Tre Turner for a 12-yard score to even the game at 35.
Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, Liberty still had 52 seconds remaining and two timeouts. The Flames moved the ball down the field and were setting up for a game-winning field goal attempt from 59 yards out when the Hokies blocked it and cornerback Jermaine Waller scooped it up and returned it for the score and a Virginia Tech victory.
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente had called timeout just before Liberty kicker Alex Barbir’s attempt, nullifying the blocked kick. Barbir would then line up for a 51-yard field goal, hitting it and giving Liberty a massive win.
Hooker was outstanding for the Hokies, rushing for 156 yards and a touchdown, while completing 20 of 27 passes for 217 yards and three scores. As good as Hooker, it was not enough as Tech’s defense turned in another abysmal effort.
Star running back Khalil Herbert was injured on the opening kickoff and did not carry the football once in the loss. Tight end James Mitchell also missed the game with an injury.
While those were tough losses for the Hokies, it does not excuse this performance. Under Fuente, these types of performances are becoming the theme for Virginia Tech.
And while the Hokies continue to be a mediocre ACC team, it is important to note that the Liberty Flames are actually quite good and the best program in the Commonwealth.