Improbable Win vs. North Carolina Gives Hokies Hope

Not all wins are created equal. They might count the same in the standings, but some victories ring hollow and meaningless. Other wins are joyful, while a rare few are so consequential that they have the ability to flip the narrative and turn a team’s fortune.

Virginia Tech’s six-overtime thriller vs. Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels is one of those wins. Saturday’s victory for the Hokies did more than just pull the Hokies back to .500 in the ACC — it might have galvanized a strained locker room and reversed the negative course that the Hokies have been on for over a year.

The Hokies are a flawed team and everyone knows it. You can go almost position by position and find something to criticize. Tech’s recent lack of competitiveness in the abysmal ACC Coastal Division and inability to fight adversity painted a scary picture — a program on the verge of bottoming out.

But Saturday’s win showed that Justin Fuente’s Hokies indeed have some grit, which has been a desired trait since Fuente arrived in Blacksburg.

“You can see by watching us play that we’re not perfect by any means,” Fuente said after the game. “But it would be hard to question our kids’ grit and toughness.”

Fuente is right. Virginia Tech had every reason to pack it in vs. North Carolina. The Hokies ran through three quarterbacks, losing rising star Hendon Hooker to injury and benching former starter Ryan Willis. Tech settled on redshirt freshman and hopeful prodigy Quincy Patterson. Tech’s best cornerback, Caleb Farley, left with an injury and never returned. The Hokies had several blunders, some of which came in overtime.

Instead of packing it in, the Hokies stuck it in and won on a two-point conversion attempt, the first game in history to end based on the new overtime rules.

Patterson’s game-winning keeper was the culmination of toughness and resiliency that we’ve not seen in quite some time. Tech rebounded from an early 10-0 deficit. Virginia Tech trailed by seven in the final period, tying the game on a 53-yard touchdown run by Patterson. Brian Johnson missed two field goals to win the game in overtime. And still, the Hokies prevailed.

Saturday’s historic win does not ensure the Hokies are headed in the right direction, nor does it guarantee this team will be in the thick of the Coastal race for the rest of the season. But it does show something Virginia Tech hasn’t shown — heart.

The Hokies haven’t quit yet. Even as pundits, bloggers, fans and more question Fuente’s ability to lead this program to the promised land, even as those who observe the team doubt the team’s skills and talents, these players haven’t quit yet. That stands for something.

I don’t know how the rest of the season is going to shake out. Virginia Tech has several important games remaining on the schedule, including their toughest test of the season vs. Notre Dame on Nov. 2. The Hokies need just two wins to secure another season of bowling and a date with destiny awaits vs. Virginia, who once again looks like the better team on paper.

What I do know is this — Fuente deserves praise for keeping this team together. The embattled coach has dealt with all sorts of criticism over the last year-and-a-half and much of that criticism is warranted. But with their backs against the wall, Fuente and his group of Hokies displayed resolve that few thought this team had. That alone makes this win bigger than any in recent memory.

One thought on “Improbable Win vs. North Carolina Gives Hokies Hope”

  1. With the exception of ND, this team has the ability to beat their remaining opponent if HH returns or if the coaches are able to tailor a sufficient offensive package suitable for QP if HH return is delayed due to his injuries. The returns of Hazelton, Turner, Grimsley and Patterson from injuries gives us a very good receiver core along with the young receivers and TE’s Keene and Mitchell. The offensive line is getting better in run blocking and have done a solid job of pass protection. This offense can score points on many of the ACC’s defenses including UVA but with the exception of Clemson.

    Defensively, we still give up big plays and make mistakes. But these kids are beginning to “pin their ears back” and fly to the ball. They are putting pressure on the QB’s and making sacks and most importantly, their tackling and physicality are improving every week. The secondary, although not perfect, is doing a much better job of contesting the pass. Surely they get periodically scorched but they are making more plays on the ball this year than they did last. Outside of ND, there are not many offenses that remain on the schedule that is more potent than UNC. Sure, Wake has put up some points, UVA has a dynamic QB and Pittsburgh has some pieces offensively, but none of those teams have the weapons the UNC have including a Freshman QB who is playing lights out, good receivers / passing game, and good runners / running game. I definitely do not believe that none of those remaining ACC teams have an offensive line that can overwhelm our improving defensive line so that gives us a chance every game. So good effort from the defense along with steady improvement and belief in each other gives us a defensive chance.

    So yes, we are still a flawed product, but in the ACC, we have a chance to be competitive and win games as I am not overly impressed with any other ACC team outside of Clemson. Based on our performance over the past three weeks which has not been perfect but gritty, the Duke game from the rear view mirror perspective was an aberration. That game took the hope out of everyone. But as the old saying goes, a season can not be completely determined after one game so that why they play the games. Keep up the intensity Hokies. You are making “us” old school- ex “ballers” proud that you are thriving to keep the “Brand” of tough, gritty, and relentless effort type of football in tact. This is our trademark earning the “blue collar” / “lunch pail” label. It would have been easy for you to pack it up after Duke….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.