The last time the Virginia Tech Hokies lost to the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, NC it was 1981. This year VT rolled into Wallace Wade stadium as 9.5-point underdogs. The Hokies, nursing the program’s first six-game skid since 1987 was hoping to avoid increasing the losing streak to seven. The Blue Devils, under first-year head coach Mike Elko, are looking for their season’s seventh win.
The Hokies won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Duke QB, Riley Leonard, took the field and came out swinging, going for a deep pass right off the bat and sticking with the air attack all the way to a three-and-out. On their first drive Virginia Tech scored quickly with their second play from scrimmage. QB, Grant Wells, hit WR, Da’Wain Lofton, for a spectacular 53-yard touchdown reception. The Hokies carried a lead into the second quarter for the first time since their week three game against the Wofford Terriers. VT’s opening drive heroics were all that seemed available for the game though. During the first half Duke dominated time of possession, 20:42, to VT’s 9:18, and they scored ten unanswered points to take the lead. It could have been more, but a 65-yard TD run by Duke R, Jordan Waters, was called back for a penalty. I bring that play up, because Waters broke loose when he stiff-armed VT LB, Dax Hollifield, into the next century. That event provides a nice metaphor for the VT defense who seemed out-physical-ed all day. Once again, the defensive line could not pressure the QB without blitzing, allowing the Duke wide receivers time to find separation. Beyond the opening drive score the only high points from the first half were the Hokies not committing any penalties and true freshmen DB, Mansoor Delane, getting his first NCAA interception. Importantly, that INT was when Duke was on VT’s eight-yard line.
After receiving the second half kick-off the Hokies quickly found themselves in a punting situation and Duke responded by marching down the field with a 62-yard, 5:19, scoring drive that culminated with Leonard running the ball in himself. The second half largely looked like the first. The Virginia Tech offense continued its season long dedication to three-and-outs and questionable play calling and player decision making. Near the end of the third quarter the Hokies faced a fourth and three, on the Duke 21-yard line, and elected to go for it. Grant Wells threw a low-percentage pass to Kaleb Smith, in the end zone, which bounced off Smith’s hands as he contorted himself to reach the ball. Entering the fourth quarter the Blue Devils’ ten-point lead felt insurmountable. Duke completely put the game away when they drove the field 60-yards for a TD, taking another five minutes off the clock. The exhausted VT defense played exhausted, and the offense continued to be a clown-car of ineptitude. Tucker Holloway got some snaps at WR though, which is cool, and makes me long for the future even more. The Virginia Tech Hokies fall to the Duke Blue Devils, 24-7, and looked every bit as problematic that has been seen all year long.