After surrendering an absurd 465 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns to the Georgia Tech triple option, the Hokies marched out to Lane for their first consecutive home game of the season knowing that the key to beating the Eagles was no secret: Stop AJ Dillon, the ACC’s leading rusher.
In Boston College’s five wins with him in uniform, Dillon has averaged 148.4 rushing yards per game with seven touchdown runs. On the contrary, in the Eagles’ only loss with Dillon in the lineup, the ACC’s top rusher was held to just 59 yards against the Purdue Boilermakers.
As establishing the run has been vital to the success of Boston College’s offense, stopping the run has been vital to the success of Bud Foster's "lunch pail defense." The Hokies have limited its opponents to 108.5 net rushing yards and only two rushing touchdowns in their four wins, while giving up 256.3 net rushing yards and a staggering 13 rushing touchdowns in their three losses.
In their previous two meetings against Boston College, Virginia Tech had outgained Boston College 332–197 on the ground, scoring three rushing touchdowns and allowing none. However, the Eagles flipped the script on Bud Foster and the Hokies’ "lunch pail defense," churning out 220 yards on the ground to the tune of three touchdowns, while allowing the Hokies just 111 rushing yards and zero scores.
Despite missing several key defensive players including Dylan Rivers, Rayshard Ashby and Khalil Ladler, Virginia Tech did a fairly good job containing AJ Dillon.
“We refuse to use our youth, our inexperience, whatever you want to call it, as a crutch,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “There is a level of expectation we have here and it’s our job to have those guys meet it on a daily basis.”
Dillon started the game with nine carries for 46 yards and a touchdown on Boston College’s first two drives. However, after Dillon’s 3-yard touchdown run a little over midway through the first quarter, the Lawrence Academy product was held to 50 yards on 15 carries the rest of the way for a grand total of 24 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown for the game, his second-lowest mark on the season.
“I think the defense played hard,” said defensive lineman Ricky Walker. “The score didn’t show it, but we got a turnover on the short-side of the field two times. I think we did a pretty good job of stopping No. 2. He’s a great player.”
However, the Hokies were carved up in pivotal down-and-distance circumstances by Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown and running back Travis Levy. On third-and-10, deep in Virginia Tech territory on Virginia Tech’s 15-yard line, Brown ran for a critical 12-yard scamper off a read option play to give Boston College first-and-goal at the Virginia Tech 3-yard line, which Dillon punched in for his only touchdown of the game.
Halfway through the third quarter, after Dillon carried the ball three straight times for 24 yards, Levy took off for a 29-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14–14.
Later in the fourth quarter, Brown and Levy would essentially seal the Hokies’ fate. On second-and-6 from the Virginia Tech 34-yard line, Brown broke off for a 24-yard scramble, setting Boston College up with a first-and-goal. Levy would punch it in two plays later from the 1-yard line after his 9-yard run on the previous play took it down to the goal line.
Brown finished with seven carries for 37 yards, while Levy finished with 11 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
If Virginia Tech (4–4, 3–2) has any shot at taking back control of the ACC Coastal Division and keeping its 25-year bowl streak alive, its run defense is going to have to lead the charge like it did earlier in the season with dominant outings against Florida State, William and Mary, and Duke.