Football: Virginia Tech runs over Tribe, 62-17

Although the Tribe forced an early turnover, the William and Mary defense could not hold the Virginia Tech offense down in a 62-17 loss. COURTESY PHOTO // TRIBE ATHLETICS

Following a season-opening win against Bucknell, William and Mary traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia, Sunday to take on Virginia Tech in front of a sold-out crowd. The College last faced the Hokies in 2014, when the Hokies ran away with a 34-9 win. Saturday, the Hokies (2-0) dominated the College in all facets of the game and cruised to a 62-17 rout of the Tribe (1-1). The Tribe’s defense struggled to contain the Hokies’ offensive attack, and on the offensive side of the ball, the College failed to establish a viable rushing attack with sophomore quarterback Shon Mitchell inconsistent in the position.

The Tribe won the coin toss and deferred in order to receive the second half kickoff. The Hokies started with the ball and quickly moved into Tribe territory after two plays of 18 yards apiece. However, on the third play of the drive, junior linebacker Nate Atkins forced Hokies running back Deshawn McClease to fumble. The College recovered the ball, giving Mitchell and the College’s offense the ball for the first time in the game. Three plays later, the Tribe, facing a 3rd and 10, returned the favor as Mitchell fumbled. The Hokies scored two plays later on a six-yard scamper by running back Steven Peoples to give the Hokies an early 7-0 advantage with 11 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

“I think we got a little bit rocked back early,” head coach Jimmye Laycock ’70 said. “They did some different things offensively than what we had seen.”

After the College picked up one first down on its second drive with an 18-yard completion to senior wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon, the Hokies got the ball back and moved quickly down the field. Nevertheless, their drive stalled at the 15-yard line after three-straight incompletions by quarterback Josh Jackson. Faced with their first fourth down of the game, Hokies kicker Brian Johnson converted on a 31-yard field goal try to extend the Hokies’ lead to 10-0. The Hokies got the ball back after another three-and-out by the College’s offense and promptly drove for their second touchdown of the afternoon. The Hokies fumbled the ball twice during the drive but were able to recover both times. The decisive play was a 39-yard pass from Jackson to Hokies wide receiver Damon Hazelton with 2:15 left in the first quarter, giving Tech a commanding 17-0 advantage.

“I think we got a little bit rocked back early,” head coach Jimmye Laycock ’70 said. “They did some different things offensively than what we had seen.”

The Hokies had the ball to start the second quarter and once again marched down the field for a touchdown. After 19 minutes of action, Jackson had thrown for 150 yards and one touchdown. The Hokies ran the ball eight-straight times for 64 yards, with Jackson powering his way into the end zone on an eight-yard run to put the Hokies up 24-0 early in the second quarter. However, on the ensuing drive, the Tribe crossed into Hokie territory for the first time in the game. On the first play of the drive, Mitchell found sophomore tight end Nick Muse on the right sideline. Muse caught the pass, running for a 71-yard gain to the Hokies’ four-yard line. The College scored on the next play with sophomore running back Nate Evans’ four-yard run. Junior kicker Kris Hooper added the extra point to cut the Tribe’s deficit to 24-7 with 10:15 to play before halftime.

The Hokies were unfazed by the College’s first touchdown of the game and put together another scoring drive. On this drive, the Hokies once again displayed their rushing attack. Nine of the 11 plays on the drive were running plays, and Peoples scored his second touchdown of the first half with a four-yard run to cap the drive. The Hokies defense forced the Tribe to punt yet again, and the Hokies offense got the chance to drive for one more touchdown before the break. Junior Ryan Willis was under center for the Hokies final drive of the half, with Jackson going to the bench since the Hokies held a commanding lead. Willis promptly led the Hokies into the end zone to give them a 38-7 lead at halftime. In his first appearance with the Hokies, Willis orchestrated the scoring drive and had a 37-yard completion to Hazelton.

“I think the bottom line is we didn’t play fast enough, physical enough or tackle well enough,” Atkins said.

The Tribe was led in the first half by Mitchell’s 100 yards passing. Muse had 85 yards receiving, and Evans had the College’s lone touchdown of the half but only three yards rushing. The Hokies were much more successful offensively; Jackson threw for 184 yards on 10 for 13 passing. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another. Peoples and Hokies running back Terius Wheatley had 55 and 57 yards rushing, respectively. Peoples had two scores for the Hokies.

The College started the second half with the ball and picked up a couple of first downs before turning it over for the second time in the game. The Hokies wasted no time in capitalizing on the Tribe’s mistake, seizing a 45-7 advantage on a Wheatley touchdown run. On the ensuing drive, Mitchell completed his second pass of over 50 yards this game, with a 59-yard touchdown strike to Dedmon to cut the deficit to 31 with 8:23 left in the third quarter. The Hokies made a field goal on the next drive and then were given a short field by the Tribe after a wayward snap on a punt attempt. The Hokies took advantage of yet another mistake by the College to claim a 55-14 lead late in the third quarter.

“I think the bottom line is we didn’t play fast enough, physical enough or tackle well enough,” Atkins said.

In the fourth quarter, with the game out of reach, the Tribe replaced Mitchell with sophomore quarterback Ted Hefter. Hefter led the College on a long drive but failed to finish the drive with a touchdown. The Tribe settled for a field goal to bring the score to 55-17 with 7:38 left to play. The Hokies added one more touchdown before the final whistle to walk away with a 62-17 victory.

The College was led in the loss by Mitchell’s 208 yards through the air and one touchdown.

“He did a pretty good job hanging in there and making the throws as best he could,” Laycock said.

Dedmon had 96 yards on six catches with one touchdown. The Hokies received strong performances from many players, especially Jackson and Hazelton. Jackson had 217 yards passing, and Hazelton had 107 yards receiving and one touchdown.

Tech will attempt to stay unbeaten when they host East Carolina next Saturday at Lane Stadium. Meanwhile, the College will look to regroup when it takes on Elon in its home opener at Zable Stadium Sept. 15. The matchup with the Phoenix will also be the College’s first Colonial Athletic Association game of the season. The Tribe failed to pick up any wins in conference play last season and lost to the Phoenix 25-17 on the road in 2017.

“Hopefully we’ll learn from this experience and get better from this experience,” Laycock said.


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