NCAA

Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

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Tech storms back against scrappy Duke

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Logan Thomas knows what he has expected Virginia Tech football to look like this season.

He finally got to see it on Saturday, after a 12-minute beatdown by Duke put the Hokies in a 20-0 hole.

"We were able to move the ball any way we wanted to, throwing it and running it, and the defense was pretty much shutting down everything," Thomas said after the Hokies rallied from the early deficit to bury the Blue Devils 41-20.

"If we play like that, special teams on top of it, that's Virginia Tech football. That's what we need to do," he said.

Thomas threw two touchdown passes, freshman J.C Coleman ran for 183 yards and two long touchdowns, and the Hokies (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) played well in all three phases of the game for the first time all season.

Duke (5-2, 2-1) arrived having won four straight and seeking one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. But after the fast start, the game did more for the Hokies' expectations going forward than for Duke's.

"I think our bubble feels burst," coach David Cutcliffe said. "It hurts today. It hurts a lot."

The Blue Devils gained 150 yards in the first quarter and just 84 in the next two quarters as Virginia Tech's defense came alive, intercepting Sean Renfree twice before halftime, sacking him five times and recovering two fumbles.

Thomas and Co., meanwhile, got into their best rhythm of the season. Thomas hit Marcus Davis with touchdown passes of 42 and 47 yards, and hit Davis with a 40-yarder to set up the Hokies' first TD. Martin Scales scored that one on a 4-yard run.

Coleman later broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run, giving the Hokies their first lead at 24-20, and he added an 86-yard burst around the right side midway through the fourth quarter to close the scoring. His yardage come on just 13 carries.

"The line gave me outstanding holes to run through," Coleman said. "It was great."

Davis had five receptions for 144 yards and thought once the Hokies started clicking, Duke got timid.

"You could tell they didn't want to play with us anymore," Davis said.

It was the Hokies' most complete performance of the season, one that gives them hope following a mediocre start to the season and with a brutal stretch of games about to begin. They play at Clemson on Saturday and then have back-to-back Thursday night games -- at Miami and home against Florida State.

The Blue Devils fell to 1-40 since 2004 against the teams remaining on their schedule and need to beat either North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech or Miami to secure their bowl bid.

At the start, it looked Duke might get that victory in Lane Stadium.

After making two first downs, Renfree sent Jamison Crowder deep in one-on-one coverage with Kyle Fuller, and Crowder caught a perfect ball over his shoulder as Fuller fell down for a 62-yard touchdown. The drive took just 2:44.

The Blue Devils followed a three-and-out by the Hokies with a drive to Ross Martin's 40-yard field goal, a march aided by a 21-yard pass interference call against Detrick Bonner and a 15-yard personal foul call against Derrick Hopkins on the same play. Martin added a 28-yard field goal, and the wheels really came off for the bumbling Hokies two plays later.

Thomas threw a swing pass from his 23 to tailback Tony Gregory, who juggled the ball, allowing Blue Devils safety Jordon Byas to snatch it out of the air and take it 20 yards untouched for the touchdown.

After just 11:48, Duke led 20-0, and a near sellout crowd sat in stunned silence.

But then the Hokies "started making a lot of plays, a lot of `explosives,'" Byas said.

The Hokies' first touchdown came on the next drive, a 76-yard march highlighted by Thomas' 40-yard pass to Davis to the Blue Devils' 4. Scales took it around the left side on the next play.

The Hokies then got two big plays from their maligned defense to keep the comeback going.

Bonner's interception and 39-yard return late in the first half set up Thomas' 42-yard TD pass to a wide-open Davis 0:19 before halftime. That pulled Virginia Tech to within 20-17 at halftime.

Earlier, Michael Cole intercepted Renfree's overthrow deep in Hokies territory and returned it to the 20. Eleven plays later, Cody Journell's 37-yard field goal cut Duke's lead to 20-10.

Journell added a 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

The NCAA is a dumb and monumentally stupid organization with rules that often don't make sense for the student-athletes they govern. One of those is paying, or more specifically not paying, athletes.

In an incredible twist of irony, Maryland will give one lucky regular student (that isn't an athlete) $10,000 for something an athlete (not a regular student) could potentially perform on the football field.

This is a highly specific play that will have to happen in order for one lucky student (again, not an athlete) to win the money, but the hypocrisy is incredible and this entire situation is so backward.

A student-athlete could score a touchdown (while not being paid) for the university and while scoring said touchdown will be helping make money for the university (money they will never see a dime from). The university will then turn around and give money to a student who did nothing to earn it, except decide to stay around in the second half for a game that is expected to be lightly attended, thanks to the achievement of a student-athlete who is incapable of receiving said money. 

That makes sense. Totally.

This comes on the heels of a report earlier this week that Division 1 coaches were "spooked" and against new rules that would allow students who met a minimum GPA to transfer and have immediate eligibility.

This is all totally fine.

Anyway, I can't believe someone didn't see the irony here and think "eh, we just had one of the biggest upsets of the weekend and should have a better way to capitalize on our momentum with something cool to entice people to stick around against Towson?"

I guess not.

MORE MARYLAND: TERPS KICKOFF YEAR WITH TEXAS-SIZED UPSET

 

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

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USA Today Sports

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

LANDOVER, Maryland -- Virginia Tech made FedEx Field feel like Lane Stadium Northeast and got to bring that Black Diamond Trophy back to Blacksburg for the first time in more than a decade.

Oh, and the Hokies' new quarterback looks like a keeper, too.

Josh Jackson passed for 235 yards, ran for 101 and accounted for two touchdowns in his first start for Virginia Tech, and the No. 21 Hokies made a last-second stand to beat No. 22 West Virginia 31-24 on Sunday night.

The 52nd meeting between the Appalachian region rivals was the first since 2005. It ended up being a classic. The Hokies rushed the field after their defense held the Mountaineers out of the end zone on two last plays from the 15, and their fans screamed along to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" to celebrate.

"This was a fantastic win," Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds said with a huge grin.

Jackson, the redshirt freshman who won a three-way competition for the job, was up and down with his passing, but showed off some nifty moves running in the opener for both teams.

"I felt calm," said Jackson, the son of former longtime Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson.

Josh Jackson's 46-yard keeper up the middle -- which ended with him taking a hard low hit -- set up Travon McMillian's 3-yard touchdown run that put Virginia Tech up 31-24 with 6:30 left.

"I felt that one pretty good," Jackson said about the hit.

Jackson said he read a blitz on that play and the Mountaineers gave him all kinds of room inside.

"That was a bad, bad call by me," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said.

West Virginia's new quarterback was just as impressive. Florida transfer Will Grier, who left Gainesville after being suspended by the NCAA for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2015, pass for 371 yards and three touchdowns.

He got one more chance to tie after usually reliable Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 1:55 left.

Grier slinged and scrambled West Virginia down to the Virginia Tech 15. Hokies coach Justin Fuente used a timeout before the last two plays because he was worried his defense was getting gassed chasing the shaggy-haired quarterback.

"You just want them to hold on for one more," Fuente said.

Grier's second-to-last pass into the end zone under pressure was a little behind David Sills and it went through the falling receiver's arms.

"I thought I had him," Grier said. "I got hit and I couldn't see. I thought he caught it. That's the one I'd like to have back to get it up more for him."

It was a tough ball to catch, but Sills wasn't hearing that.

"I just got to make that play," he said. "That's really all it comes down to."

Grier's last throw sailed high and away, but a couple of penalties on the West Virginia offensive line made it moot.