Virginia Tech wasn’t supposed to defeat Virginia for a 15-straight time on Friday night.
Tre Turner wasn’t supposed to make two uber-important receptions, one for a touchdown and another for 45 yards. Dalton Keene wasn’t supposed to make a miraculous 45-yard reception on a third-and-10 in the final period. Virginia Tech wasn’t supposed to recover Steven Peoples‘ fumble for a touchdown. And Virginia wasn’t supposed to mishandle a quarterback/running back exchange in overtime, leading to a Hokies’ recovery and a Tech win.
And yet, all of these things happened.
Virginia Tech knocked off Virginia once again, extending one of Tech’s most important streaks and giving the Hokies one more shot at another bowl game.
Let’s be honest — Virginia Tech did not play well. The defense, particularly the secondary, fell apart for much of the second half. Ryan Willis threw two interceptions and fumbled another time. Tech missed a field goal to boot.
But the Hokies overcame all of these things. Despite all of this team’s deficiencies, all of this team’s injuries, all of their mistakes, they still beat Virginia.
Virginia Tech’s 2018 season has certainly been one to forget. Justin Fuente‘s leadership and coaching ability has been called into question, as has the ability of just about every assistant on his staff. The heart and resiliency of this team has been questioned and there are some valid reasons. But on Friday, the Hokies proved everyone wrong, including me.
For all this team’s deficiencies, they performed with their backs against the wall. They won their 15th-straight against their in-state rival, a win very few thought they’d earn. The coaching staff kept the team motivated and the players got the job done. Both deserve an abundance of credit.
The Hokies now have one more game guaranteed on the schedule. Virginia Tech gets Marshall next weekend inside Lane Stadium, with a chance to get to six wins and become bowl eligible for the 26th-straight season.
Becoming bowl eligible usually isn’t cause for celebration. But given how things have gone this season, winning two straight and punching a bowl game ticket is indeed cause for celebration.
Some other observations…
Virginia continues to miss out on prime opportunities
The ‘Hoos have a serious problem. Virginia built their entire season on one motto — “Beat Tech.”
And they should have beat Tech this season. The ‘Hoos had an injured Hokies team in front of them with a thin defensive front, a backup quarterback and a weary locker room. Virginia finally sported a mobile quarterback, one who had the ability to complete throws downfield.
But Virginia lost once again, signifying another opportunity wasted. The ‘Hoos have had several chances over the last 10 years or so, non greater than this season. Each time we think Virginia finally has the team to end their lengthy losing streak to Virginia Tech, the ‘Hoos snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Virginia won’t get chances like this every season. The Hokies might not have a roster this depleted ever again in the foreseeable future and the ‘Hoos roster isn’t improving a lot each offseason. Bronco Mendenhall might be getting his team to buy in, but his staff isn’t recruiting that well.
In short, Virginia Tech isn’t going to be a medicore team each season and the ‘Hoos aren’t closing the gap in recruiting. This streak was thought to be dead in the water a week ago, but it looks like the exact opposite now.
“Big play” Tre Turner is the real deal
Few players did as much for the cause as Tre Turner did on Friday night. Turner led the team with four receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, and also took one jet sweep for 43 yards. Oh, and he blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown.
Turner isn’t a flash in the pan. He’s caught a pass in 10 of Virginia Tech’s 11 games, averaging 18 yards per catch. A bunch of his receptions have come on third down, something uncommon for a freshman.
He won’t block punts every time out, but Turner is becoming a consistent threat in the passing game every game. He’s caught four passes in each of the last three games for 187 yards and with Damon Hazelton and Eric Kumah in and out of the lineup with injuries, Turner’s consistency is very much needed.
Marshall isn’t a pushover
Virginia Tech scheduled their Dec. 1 matchup with Marshall in hopes they could defeat the Thundering Herd and extend their bowl streak. Now that the game is on, the Hokies can’t take Marshall lightly.
Marshall is currently 7-3 with a road game slated at Florida International on Saturday at 12 p.m. The Thundering Herd have won two games in a row in the relatively weak Conference USA. None of Marshall’s wins have come against good teams and they lost to NC State earlier this season by 17 points.
The Hokies will have all the motivation in the world in this game. Virginia Tech has some newfound confidence after the win over the ‘Hoos and they’ve got a chance to maintain the program’s bowl streak. Seniors like Ricky Walker and Kyle Chung will get one more crack in Lane Stadium.
There’s no guarantee that Virginia Tech will win this game, but there is reason for cautious optimism. We’ll see how things shake out next week.