After an ugly start and 20-point hole, the Virginia Tech Hokies reeled off 41 unanswered points to hold on for a 41-20 win over Duke. The Hokies started the game asleep on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Logan Thomas, wideout Marcus Davis, and running back J.C. Coleman put Frank Beamer's club in complete control early in the second half.
Bud Foster's defense yielded points on Duke's first three possessions, and a Thomas pick-six on a bobbled swing pass quickly put the Hokies behind 20-0 in the first quarter. But Virginia Tech slowly started their big comeback, picking up crucial touchdowns in the final minutes of the first two quarters to stem the Duke momentum.
The game swung at the end of the first half, when a banged-up Sean Renfree was picked off by Detrick Bonner on a tipped ball intended for Conner Vernon. Duke was driving and likely going to add to their 20-10 lead before the end of the half, but Bonner abruptly put an end to the drive and took the pick back into Duke territory. One play later, Thomas found a racing Davis behind the defense down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown. It was a huge turn, cutting the Duke lead to three and giving the Hokies all the momentum as the teams went to the locker room, with Tech set to receive the second half kickoff.
The momentum would never swing back in Duke's favor, as Thomas and the Hokie offense took their first lead of the game a little over a minute into the second half. True freshman running back C.J. Coleman busted a 45-yarder to the end zone that handed the Hokies the 24-20 lead. On their next possession, just moments later, Thomas connected with Davis again for the second quick strike touchdown of the half. The massive wideout got behind the defense again, and Thomas lofted one up and over, dropping it into Davis's stomach as he went to the ground in the end zone.
That was it for the Blue Devils, as Foster's defense dug in and started swarming Renfree. Duke averaged 10 yards per play in the first quarter, but the Hokie defense woke up after that and completely stifled David Cutcliffe's attack. A shoulder injury to to Renfree didn't help, but the Hokie defense forced two quick three-and-outs to start the second half, and the Devils simply could not answer the fireworks from the other side.
Down 14, Duke made one final attempt to make it a game in the final ten minutes. But a drive stalled out inside the 15, and the Hokies took over on downs. One play later, the dynamic freshman Coleman bounced one outside and burst down the right sideline for an 86-yard touchdown to ice the game.
Box Score Hero: While J.C. Coleman's two long touchdowns resulted in a ridiculous 14.1 yards per carry, it was wideout Marcus Davis who came through with three huge receptions that resulted in or led to three touchdowns. Davis finished the game with five catches for 144 yards and two scores.
Rankings Ramifications: The game should have no impact on the rankings. Duke received votes in both polls last week, and they'll likely fall out of the "others receiving votes" category for Week 8.
But Did They Cover? The 41 unanswered points ensured Virginia Tech covered the 9.5-point spread.
For More On This Game: For more on Hokies football, visit Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country. For more on the Blue Devils, visit Duke Baskeball Report.
Next Week's Schedule: Virginia Tech will hit the road to face a ranked Clemson team that's coming off a bye. Duke will host rival North Carolina at Wallace Wade Stadium.