The Virgina Tech Hokies are feeling rather water logged, as the pouring rain not only washed out the crowd’s annual “White Out,” but also what was supposed to be an easy victory.
For the first time since 1995, the Hokies dropped their home opener in a 21-16 loss to the James Madison University Dukes.
Though the Hokies were never the dominant force that they were expected to be, they did have the lead for most of the game. It was only after a fourth quarter run by quarterback Drew Dudzik that the Hokies found themselves looking up to JMU.
Tech started the game well with a defensive stop followed by a 17-play, 96-yard scoring drive that ate up more than eight minutes of the first quarter.
After using the rushing attack almost exclusively in the drive, it was capped off with an 11-yard completion to Jarrett Boykin, who found a hole right behind the JMU linebackers for the score.
Again using the run, the Hokies tacked on three more points two drives later with a Chris Hazley field goal from 30 yards away.
Things continued to go smoothly for the Hokies until JMU running back Jamal Sulivan broke tackles from Bruce Taylor and Jayron Hosley – turning a simple screen pass into a 77-yard touchdown.
“We have got to come back next week and tackle better,” Taylor said. “We will probably have a ton of tackling drills, and I'm glad we are.”
The play gave the Dukes their first sign of life, as they had just 15 yards of total offense before the touchdown.
The Hokies were able to respond with a 41-yard Hazley field goal with 19 seconds to play in the half, but the 13-7 score was anything but the blowout predicted.
Following the break, the Hokies drove all the way to JMU’s 10-yard line, but had to settle for yet another field goal.
The Hokies have just four touchdowns in nine red zone possessions this season, a significant drop from 2009, when they scored a touchdown 60 percent of the time once in the red zone.
“It’s very frustrating,” said running back Ryan Williams. “I’m used to last year. We would get in the red zone and punch it down low and get into the end zone regardless of whether it’s a pass or a run.”
JMU countered Tech’s field goal by putting together its first long and sustaining drive of the game – going 66 yards in 14 plays for the touchdown.
The drive was aided by more defensive miscues, as several missed tackles and a defensive holding penalty gave the Dukes first downs on several occasions.
Suddenly, Tech was in the midst of a 16-14 battle.
Tech continued its downward spiral when a Tyrod Taylor pass was intercepted by JMU’s Jonathan Williams just four plays later.