The Virginia Tech Hokies entered the New Era Pinstripe Bowl with several key starters. WR Tre Turner, WR Tayvion Robinson, QB Braxton Burmeister, OL Lecitus Smith, DE Amare Barno, DT Jordan Williams, CB Jermaine Waller, and backup QB Knox Kadum are all absent due to NFL draft preparation or transfer portal entry. Conor Blumrick, a transfer from Texas A&M, was named the starting QB with true freshmen Tahj Bullock serving as the backup.
Maryland won the toss and elected to kick. The Hokies started the opening drive with three runs before the Terps forced a punt after VT’s first passing attempt on 3rd and 4. The Terrapins jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when they returned the Hokies’ punt 92-yards. That turned out to be Maryland’s record for a punt return and the first time a punt has been returned during the Pinstripe Bowl. Records are fun. VT’s second drive started on the ground with Blackshear before Blumrick ran it himself on second down. A pass to Nick Gallo for ten yards earned the Hokies a first down and their first foray into Maryland territory. An offsides penalty on a 4th and 1 attempt renewed VT’s drive, but the drive stalled after several short runs. Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense finally made it onto the field, at their seven-yard line, with 5:02 left in the first quarter. Maryland also took the ground and started with a seven-yard run to get out of the shadow of their endzone. A fantastic pursuit of Tagovailoa, on third down, resulted in an incomplete pass and the Hokies held the Terps to a three-and-out on their first possession. VT quickly returned the three-and-out favor and Maryland was back on offense. The VT defense answered again and forced the Terps to punt.
The Hokies’ first possession of the second quarter started much like their initial effort with the ground attack. An incomplete pass to Gallo resulted in yet another VT three-and-out, but Peter Moore ran a fake punt to pick up the first down! Connor Blumrick then hit Jayden Payoute for a 42-yard pass to set up the John Parker Romo field goal to put the Hokies on the board, 7-3. In a frustrating turn of events, on the first play of Maryland’s ensuing drive, Tagovailoa hit Darryl Jones for a 70-yard touchdown to put the Terps up 14-3. Things started to accelerate and after VT’s third three-and-out the Terrapins marched 60-yards down the field in 1:35 for another quick TD, putting them up 21-3. Tahj Bullock made his VT debut, with back-to-back hand-offs to Blackshear and Thomas, before Bullock returned and completed a first down pass to Nick Gallo. VT continued to march down the field and put together a solid 75-yard TD down to close the gap against the Terps, 21-10. The Terps took advantage of the minute left on the clock to hit a field goal to close the half. Maryland leads Virginia Tech 24-10. Maryland receives the kick-off to start the second half.