November 22, 2008
Tech defense freezes Duke, puts Hokies one win away from Coastal crown
By Jimmy Robertson
Duke (4-7) 03003
Virginia Tech (7-4) 070714
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 66,233
  • Passing: Sean Glennon 132 yds
  • Rushing: Darren Evans 111 yds
  • Receiving: Jarrett Boykin 67 yds
Game Notes

Boykin ends the streak: Tech receiver Jarrett Boykin, a freshman from Matthews, N.C., ended a season-long streak for the Hokies when he became the first Tech receiver this season to catch a touchdown pass.

Boykin hauled in a 19-yard touchdown reception from Sean Glennon right before halftime that gave the Hokies a 7-3 lead into the locker room. The touchdown turned out to be the Hokies’ lone score of the night by the offense. Boykin finished with four catches for 67 yards in the game. The four catches tied a career high.

Tech went into the game as one of only two I-A teams without a touchdown reception by a receiver. Louisiana Tech also didn’t have a receiver with a touchdown reception, but that streak ended, too, as the Bulldogs had a touchdown catch by a receiver in their 35-31 victory over New Mexico State.

“As receivers, we just want to go out and do our part,” Boykin said. “We want to execute and make plays. When it [the touchdowns] comes, it comes. I’m glad this day was the day that it came.”

Harris adds to career total: Tech cornerback Macho Harris intercepted a pass in the second quarter and then one in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Those two marked his fifth and sixth interceptions of the season. The senior from Highland Springs, Va., has picked off 15 passes in his career, which ranks third on the all-time list. He surpassed Willie Pile, who picked off 14 from 1999-02. Only Gene Bunn (18) and Tyronne Drakeford (16) have more career interceptions than Harris.

Harris returned his interception in the fourth quarter for a touchdown to give the Hokies a 14-3 lead. That marked his fifth non-offensive touchdown in his career – four by interception returns and one by a kickoff return. Only DeAngelo Hall, who had seven non-offensive touchdowns, has more under Beamer.

“I don’t put much thought to it,” Harris said of his touchdowns. “I think this game is much bigger than individual goals and achievements. I’ll take an ACC win any day over a pick or an individual achievement.”

Glennon moves up chart: Tech quarterback Sean Glennon, who came off the bench to play a hand in leading the Hokies to the win, completed 12-of-20 for 132 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Those 121 total yards give him 4,663 total yards for his career and enabled him to move into sixth place on Tech’s all-time list for total offense. He moved past Jim Druckenmiller (4,650) with his performance.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Glennon, and that may continue. After the game, Beamer was non-committal on whom his starting quarterback would for the upcoming UVa game.

“It’s not easy,” Glennon said. “When they told me before this game that they [the coaches] were going to go with Tyrod, that was definitely a blow. I’m only here for a couple of more games. But I got my opportunity tonight and hopefully I’ll be out there next week.”

Tough game for Taylor: Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a miserable game, turning the ball over four times on the Hokies’ first five possessions of the game. As a result, the Tech coaching staff elected to take him out and insert Glennon into the lineup. Glennon played the remainder of the game.

Taylor, a sophomore from Hampton, Va., completed just 2-of-5 for 15 yards, with two interceptions.

“This was one of my worst games,” Taylor said. “After the first pick, I cleared my mind and went back out there, and after the second pick, I cleared my mind. On the fumble, I didn’t see the guy who punched the ball loose, but I was just running. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was out there playing football.

“I just need to go and watch the film and learn from my mistakes – and try to get better.”

Tech committed a season-high give turnovers in this game.

Chilly temps: The temperature at kickoff was 29 degrees, marking just the fourth game under Beamer to be played in temperatures of 32 degrees or colder and the second coldest at kickoff under Beamer. Tech is now 3-1 under Beamer in games played in 32 degrees or below, beating East Carolina at home in 1996 when it was 30 degrees and Cincinnati at home in 1987 when it was 25 degrees. Tech lost at Pittsburgh in 2003 when it was 32 degrees at freezing.

Marginal tidbits: Tech’s average margin of decision (win or loss) is just 7.7 points in 11 games, which is the second-lowest in the country. Fresno State is at 7.4 points (81 points in 11 games). Tech and Fresno State are the only two teams in the FBS to have played every game (win or loss) to 17 points or less.

On deck: Tech (7-4, 4-3) will wrap up its regular season next Saturday with a home game against the University of Virginia (5-6, 3-4 ACC) on Senior Day. The game will kick at either noon or 3:30 p.m. The time and network broadcasting the game will be announced no later than noon on Sunday. If Tech wins, it will advance to the ACC Championship game in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m.

Tech’s defense played an outstanding all-around game, forcing four Duke turnovers, and Sean Glennon came off the bench to play a steady game, as the Hokies moved into the driver’s seat for the ACC’s Coastal Division crown by downing Duke 14-3 in an ugly ACC game played on a bitter cold Saturday night at Lane Stadium.

Tech moved to 7-4 overall on the season, 4-3 in the ACC. The Hokies knocked off the Blue Devils for the fifth straight time since joining the ACC and for the eighth straight time in the series between the two clubs. Duke fell to 4-7, 1-6 in the league.

With the victory, the Hokies took control of the race for the Coastal Division crown. Tech only needs to win its regular-season finale against Virginia to clinch the division and assure itself a berth in the ACC championship game played in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 6th.

“I am just glad the kids we have battle like heck,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “We are not always pretty, but all I know is we are one win away from playing for the ACC championship. And that, to me, is pretty special.”

“Life is about chances,” Tech cornerback Macho Harris said. “Sometimes, you get a second chance. Sometimes, you get a third or a fourth. All you’ve got to do is continue to believe and work hard, and that’s what we did. I love this team. To be so young, and yet, to be so scrappy, I don’t think there’s another team that could play like this.”

On a night when temperatures hovered in the 20s, Harris, a senior from Highland Springs, Va., was the one who put this one on ice. Late in the fourth quarter, he read the eyes of Duke quarterback Zack Asack and plucked Asack’s pass out of the air. Then he sprinted down the sideline 23 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Dustin Keys’ extra point gave the Hokies a 14-3 lead with 1:23 remaining.

“Once again, Coach [Bud Foster] put us in a position to make a play and that’s what I did,” Harris said. “We were in a zone and I read the quarterback. I thought he was going to throw it in the flat, but he tried to hit the curl behind me. I feel blessed to have been in a position to make a play.”

Harris and fellow cornerback Stephan Virgil, whose interception on Duke’s final drive sealed things, finished with two interceptions each and spearheaded a Tech defense that allowed fewer than 250 total yards for the fourth straight game. Duke finished with a paltry 136 yards on the evening, and the Blue Devils completed just two passes for 20 yards.

The pass completions and yards marked the fewest by a Tech opponent in the Frank Beamer era.

“People can talk all they want about this not being a normal year for a Bud Foster defense,” Glennon said, referring to Tech’s defensive coordinator. “I don’t know. They look pretty good to me. I haven’t seen any better.

“We’re blessed the defense played so well. Sometimes you have to grind out wins. Fortunately, the defense helped us grind it out.”

Tech’s offense never got anything consistently going in this game in large part to turnovers. The Hokies committed five turnovers on their first six possessions.

The turnover-fest on offense led Beamer and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring to make a decision. They decided to pull Tyrod Taylor after the sophomore from Hampton, Va., committed four of those turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions.

They inserted Glennon, and despite an interception on a batted ball Glennon got the Hokies on the board right before halftime. With just over three minutes to go in the first half, he led the Hokies on an 86-yard march. He finished the 11-play drive when he found Jarrett Boykin for a 19-yard touchdown pass – the first touchdown by a Tech receiver this season – with just 38 seconds remaining. Keys’ extra point gave the Hokies a 7-3 lead, and that’s how the two teams went into the locker room at halftime.

“We needed something going into halftime,” Glennon said. “It wouldn’t have been a satisfying feeling going into the locker room. It was important to get something on the board and a lot of people made plays on the drive, and we did.”

Glennon completed 12-of-20 for 132 yards, with a touchdown and interception. Darren Evans rushed for 111 yards, as the Hokies had a balanced overall attack with 147 yards passing and 187 yards rushing.

Taylor completed just 2-of-5 for 15 yards and the two picks. He did rush for 39 yards on nine carries. After the game, Beamer didn’t name a starting quarterback “Tyrod had a couple of rough things today, but it wasn’t all Tyrod,” Beamer said. “I’m not one to flip around very much. We’ll see where we go from here.”

Tech closes the regular season next Saturday at Lane Stadium with a game against in-state rival Virginia. The kickoff time should be announced by Sunday at noon. The Cavaliers come into the game needing a win to obtain bowl eligibility.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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