Virginia Tech overcame nearly 100 penalty yards and two interceptions Saturday to defeat the Duke Blue Devils 14-10.
“I thought our football team hung on,” said head coach Frank Beamer.
The Hokies, who entered the game on a 10-straight true road game win streak, looked sloppy in the first half, as quarterback Logan Thomas threw two badly thrown balls for interceptions.
Beamer said the Hokies did not take the game lightly, despite the fact many thought it wouldn’t be close.
“I thought (Duke) was a good football team coming into the game,” Beamer said. “They’ve had some tough luck, but they’re a proven program, and I just don’t believe there’s that much difference in top to bottom in this league.”
Duke, who was a double-digit underdog entering the game, fought valiantly throughout, but mistakes in the kicking game and timely big plays from the Hokies did them in.
Duke kicker Will Snyderwine missed three field goals under 38 yards, any of which would have made the outcome of the game much different.
Tailback David Wilson, who entered week nine leading the nation in rushing, said he could see the energy on the opposing sideline.
“Personally, I thought they were just extra pumped,” Wilson said of the Blue Devils. “They were jumping up and down on the sideline in the second half, and they kind of came out as a new team.”
Wilson finished the game with 148 rushing yards on 23 carries, and said some of what Duke was doing could be considered dirty play.
“At the bottom of the pile, they were doing dirty stuff,” Wilson said. “Just anything — pinching, punching, reaching through the facemask.”
His backfield teammate Thomas came into Saturday with three-straight games of at least 260 passing yards, but struggled to find a rhythm.
“We played well on offense early on, then I threw a couple interceptions that really hurt,” Thomas said. “It was a credit to their defense in the second half, they played better.”
Thomas finished the game with 190 passing yards, his fewest since the Hokies loss to Clemson.
His receivers, a senior group of proven performers, were largely held in check by the Blue Devils’ defense. The lone star of the game on the receiving side was his tight end Chris Drager, who had four catches for 39 yards, two of which came on third down for conversions.
Although the Blue Devils were moving the ball, points were at a premium Saturday. Late in the fourth quarter trailing by four, the Hokies had their play of the game.
On fourth and two, Hokies cornerback Kyle Fuller tackled Duke quarterback Kyle Renfree for a loss at the Hokies 15-yard line. For a moment, it looked like a running lane would be open, but Fuller quickly closed it down.
“Everybody was just playing their position on the field,” Fuller said. “You have to be able to make your plays when they come, and today I had a lot of plays I had to make to help our defense.”
His head coach was very pleased to see Fuller making plays, and at this point almost expects him to.
“He’s a football player,” Beamer said. “He’s just instinctively good.”
The Hokies have a bye week leading into their Thursday night matchup with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The sloppy performance against Duke could have been blamed on that looming game.
“We talked about coming in here and leaving here with a great game under our belts,” Beamer said. “Every week isn’t going to be just magnificent, and this week certainly wasn’t.”