The Deacs halt the Hokies; their 23-16 is their 3rd in a row.
Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 3-1) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-2)
The Saturday afternoon tilt between the #19 Virginia Tech Hokies and Wake Forest Demon Deacons finds two teams getting back on track in another important ACC game.
With an offense averaging 42 points per game, it's the offense's "ground and pound" rushing attack (averaging nearly 312 rushing yards per game), combined with their trademark physical style of play, a challenge for just about any team. Quarterback Hendon Hooker (247 passing yards with 3 touchdowns) is coming off a 164 yard rushing effort with 3 touchdowns in their 40-14 win against Boston College. Khalil Herbert is arguably one of the more explosive offensive players in the country; his 592 rushing yards (averaging a whopping 9.7 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns make him a constant threat. Defensive back Chamarri Conner (18 tackles) and defensive linesman Amare Barno (3.5 sacks and a fumble force) are key contributors on a defense looking to build on their effort against the Eagles (as they are allowing an un-VA Tech like 31.3 points per game).
The Deacs are led on offense by quarter Sam Hartman (893 passing yards with 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions) and the 1-2 punch of Kenneth Walker III (383 rushing yards/averaging 5.7 yards per carry/7 touchdowns) and Christian Beal-Smith (256 rushing yards/averaging 4.4 yards per carry/3 touchdowns). Jaquarii Roberson (20 receptions for 314 yards), Donavon Greene (averaging 19.8 yards per catch), A.T. Perry (13 receptions for 194 yards), and Taylor Morin (15 receptions for 197 yards with 2 touchdowns) round out the receiver corps. Likewise, All-American defensive linesman/team captain Carlos "Boogie" Basham, Jr (4 sacks), linebacker Jacquez Williams (18 tackles), and defensive back (and team captain) Ja'Sir Taylor (15 tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown) are among those leading a resurgent defense.
And given last year's 36-17 loss at Blacksburg, the Deacons may have a little "extra" in mind coming into today's "virtual homecoming" game.
First half: Virginia Tech Hokies vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Virginia Tech starts with the ball as Wake Forest defers to the second half.
After halting the Hokies' opening possession of the first quarter (and game), the Deacs' opening drive begins deep in their own territory (at their 8-yard line). A 55-yard run by Christian Beal-Smith on a 3rd and 1 eventually sets up a 9-yard touchdown run by Sam Hartman, giving them a 7-0 lead on a 7-play drive taking a mere 2:54 off the clock. Virginia Tech's next possession opens up on a well-designed 35-yard screen pass from Hendon Hooker to Khalil Herbert, and with a 15-yard personal foul penalty called against the Wake defense, it looked like momentum would swing their way. However, a solid stand by the defense, including a sack by Miles Fox, stalls the drive, and a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by the Hokies' Brian Johnson keeps the lead intact.
After a Wake Forest punt and a near interception by Wake's Ja'Sir Taylor on the subsequent drive by the Hokies, Wake's offense gets things moving. Christian Beal-Smith breaks free for a 26-yard gain, and at 2:11 mark of the quarter, Nick Sciba's 41-yard field goal gives them a 10-0 lead.
Virginia Tech's next drive is aided by a pass interference on the Wake defense. A pair of runs by Hendon Hooker (a 14 and 9-yard run) get the Hokies into the red zone, but a solid pass breakup by the Deacs' freshman defensive back Caelen Carson halts the drive. Brian Johnson converts a 29-yard field to get the Hokies on the scoreboard at the 11:39 mark of the second quarter, cutting the Wake lead to 10-3.
After holding the Deacs to a 3-and-out, quarterback Hendon Hooker directs the Hokies' offense on a 4-play scoring drive (covering 70 yards in only 1:34). A pair of consecutive 10-plus yards runs by Hooker (11 yards) and Raheem Blackshear (15 yards) sets up a misdirection pass to James Mitchell, resulting in a 39-yard yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 10 (8:40 in the second quarter).
Wake's offense responds on the very next series. A gutty 4th down and 1 from the Virginia Tech 48-yard line leads to a conversion by Kenneth Walker III (an 11-yard run), leading to a Deacon first down. The Deacs convert their second 4th down conversation on a 4th and 2 from the Hokies' 29-yard line on a 7-yard completion by Hartman to Jaquarii Roberson. As the drive ensues, Wake converts their third 4th down thanks to a 3-yard run by Walker III to the Virginia Tech 10-yard line; a face mask penalty on the Hokies' defense gives Wake a first and goal from the 5-yard line. A punishing 6-yard touchdown run by Walker III gives the Deacs a 17-10, capping off a 17-play drive covering 75 yards (and elapsing 7:09 off the clock).
Virginia Tech would respond with a flurry, as Hendon Hooker would march the Hokies to the Wake 15-yard line. His pass attempt on the 3rd and 10 (from the 15) would get tipped by the Deacs' Caelen Carson and get intercepted by fellow freshman starting defensive back Nick Anderson, closing out the half with the Deacons holding onto a 17-10 lead.
Virginia Tech has a slight edge in total offense (231 to 202 yards), while Wake Forest holds a slight advantage in time of possession (15:27 to 14:33). The Deacs show improvement, committing 3 penalties for 34 yards (compared to 2 penalties for 10 yards by the Hokies). The Hokies' rush offense has 23 carries for 104 yards (averaging 4.5 yards per carry), while the Deacons' ground game (24 carries for 141 yards, resulting in averaging 5.1 yards per carry) paces the offense.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker (8 for 14 with 127 passing yards with a touchdown and interception, along with 50 rushing yards on 8 carries) leads the Virginia Tech offense. Khalil Herbert chips in 29 yards (on 9 carries) and James Mitchell (3 receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown) round out the offense. Wake's Sam Hartman (9 for 12 with 61 passing yards and a rushing touchdown), along with Christian Beal-Smith (5 carries for 91 yards), Kenneth Walker III (11 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown), and Jaquarii Roberson (5 receptions for 35 yards) set the tone for the offense.
Second half: Virginia Tech Hokies vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest opens play in the second half.
Virginia Tech's Jarrod Hewitt helmet to helmet contact on a sack of Wake's Sam Hartman pauses the opening possession. As a result, he's disqualified from the game for a targeting call and unsportsmanlike conduct; the combined 30 yards in penalties give the Deacs a first and 10 at the Hokies' 35-yard line. Nick Sciba caps off the drive with a 46-yard field goal at the 12:23 mark, adding to the team's lead (20-10). An illegal blindside block (late hit) against the Virginia Tech special teams (kickoff return team) on the ensuing kickoff puts the Hokies' offense on their 13-yard line.
The Hokies' special teams would give the Deacs a mild dose of their own medicine; on a 4th and 4 from their 29-yard line, punter Oscar Bradburn's surprise 14-yard run would keep the drive alive. However, freshman walk-on and starter Nick Anderson would shut down the drive with his second interception of the game, as the Bermuda Boys (the nickname for the Deacons' secondary) make their presence felt yet again. After a 3-and-out by the Wake offense, Virginia Tech tries to get their offense in rhythm. Khalil Herbert's 24-yard run and a 13-yard completion by Hendon Hooker to Tayvion Robinson moves the offense into Deacon territory. A big tackle for loss by the Deacs' Traveon Redd pushes the Hokies back to a 3rd and 16, having them settle for a 31-yard field goal by Brian Johnson (making it a 20-13 game with 1:29 left in the third quarter).
Wake's next drive is assisted by a pass interference penalty by Dorian Strong, moving them closer to Virginia Tech territory. Another penalty against the Hokies (personal foul by Norell Pollard), along with a huge 36-yard completion by Hartman to Donavon Greene, leads to a score, thanks to a 28-yard field goal by Nick Sciba (23-13 with 11:05 left in the 4th quarter). On their responding drive, Virginia Tech's offense is stunted by a series of penalties. After official review, a 14-yard completion by Hendon Hooker to Tre Turner is upheld, keeping their drive alive. However, Boogie Basham's sack (his 23rd consecutive game recording a tackle for a loss) stops the drive, and another missed field goal by Brian Johnson (from 51 yards) at the 6:56 mark of the fourth quarter maintains the Deacons' 10 point lead.
Virginia Tech's defense forces a 3-and-out on the Wake offense, giving them another chance to make a run. Hendon Hooker directs the team to the Deacs' 37-yard line, and Brian Johnson's 54-yard field goal (with 2:38 left in the game) inches the Hokies closer (23-16). On the ensuing kickoff, Wake's Ja'Sir Taylor recovers the kickoff (despite getting hit in the helmet/head by Virginia Tech's Dax Hollifield); after the kick catching interference penalty, the Deacs start with the ball on Virginia Tech's 34-yard line. With the Hokies out of timeouts, the Wake offense burns as much clock as possible; after calling timeout to debate if they'll go for a field goal or punt, the Deacs elect to play it safe and punt. Ivan Mora's punt pins the Hokies at their 2-yard line with 0:51 left in the game, out of timeouts. And with Nick Anderson's 3rd interception of the game (0:45 left in the fourth quarter/game), the Deacs seal the deal (23-16).
Recap: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-2, 2-2) defeat the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2, 3-2) 23-16
While Virginia Tech outgained Wake Forest (433 to 346 total yards) and has a slight edge in time of possession (30:18 to 29:34), the Deacon defense arguably plays their best game of the season; they force 3 turnovers (3 interceptions by freshman walk-on starter Nick Anderson), and the vaunted running game of Virginia Tech is contained to 210 yards on 43 carries (nearly 100 yard fewer than their season average). The improved showing penalty-wise (6 for 79 yards compared the Hokies committing 10 for 112 yards) compared to their previous game (against Virginia) helps in getting their second consecutive conference win (and 3rd win in a row this season).
The Hokies' Hendon Hooker throws for 233 yards and a touchdown, along with a team-high 98 rushing yards, but is forced into throwing 3 interceptions. Khalil Herbert is held to a season-low 64 yards on 14 carries (for 4.6 yards per carry); this is less than half of his season average of 9.7 yards per carry entering today's game. Tre Turner leads the Virginia Tech receivers (5 receptions for 61 yards), and James Mitchell (3 receptions for 51 yards with a touchdown) does all his damage in the first half.
Sam Hartman's efficient efforts in the passing game (12 for 17 with 110 passing yards along with 43 rushing yards and a touchdown) compliment a sound running game (236 rushing yards on 49 carries). Christian Beal-Smith leads the offense with 129 rushing yards on 13 carries (averaging 9.9 yards per carry), and contributions by Kenneth Walker III (66 rushing yards and a touchdown) and Jaquarii Roberson (6 receptions for 46 yards) set the tone for the offense. In addition to Anderson's 3 interceptions, key plays by Carlos "Boogie" Basham, Jr, along with special teams efforts by Nick Sciba (3 for 3 in field goals, as well as Ivan Mora's 41.2 yards per punt, including the key punt forcing the Hokies to start at their 2-yard line in the closing minute of the fourth quarter), make a major impact.
Virginia Tech's next game is a road affair against the Louisville Cardinals (2-4, 1-4) in Louisville, KY (4pm EST on the ACC Network) on October 31st. Wake Forest travels outside of the state of North Carolina for the first time to take on the Syracuse Orange (1-5, 1-4) at the Carrier Dome (12pm EST on the ACC Network) in Syracuse, NY.
Photo and video compliments of the ACC Media Portal
The Wake Forest defense celebrates with Nick Anderson after one of his 3 interceptions in today's game. The walk-on freshmen is a starting defensive back and is a key contributor to the team defense.
The Deacs' offense celebrates with Kenneth Walker III. His punishing 6-yard touchdown run gives them a 17-10 lead in the second quarter.
Quarterback Sam Hartman's 9-yard sprint leads to paydirt (a touchdown) for the Deacons. He contributes 49 rushing yards as the team gains 236 yards on the ground (averaging 4.8 yards per carry).
Defensive back Ja'Sir Taylor forces Virginia Tech's Trae Robinson out of bounds. The defense forces 3 turnovers and allows 233 passing yards.
Wake's Kenneth Walker III on the move. He finishes the game with 66 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The Deacs' Christian Beal-Smith leads the ground game, averaging nearly 10 yards a carry (13 carries for 129 yards).
Kenneth Walker III on the move again for the Deacs; he and Christian Beal-Smith form a solid 1-2 punch (they combined for 36 carries for 195 yards and a touchdown in the win against Virginia Tech).
Elevating each week; Sam Hartman's sound play (0 interceptions through 5 games) and the improved team play has the Deacs on a 3-game winning streak (2 of which are wins in the ACC).