October 1, 2011
Wilson's effort not enough as Hokies fall 23-3 to Clemson
By Jimmy Robertson
(13) Clemson (5-0) 377623
(11) Virginia Tech (4-1) 03003
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 66,233
  • Passing: Logan Thomas 125 yds
  • Rushing: David Wilson 123 yds
  • Receiving: D.J. Coles 44 yds

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech tailback David Wilson rushed for 123 yards, but the Hokies couldn’t get the ball in the end zone and fell 23-3 to Clemson in an ACC game played Saturday night at Lane Stadium.

The loss marked the first of the season for the Hokies, who fell to 4-1 overall, and their first ACC opening-game loss since they joined the league. Clemson moved to 5-0, 2-0 in the league and snapped a five-game losing skid to the Hokies. The Tigers beat Tech for the first time since 1989.

Tech finished with 258 yards of offense after averaging 430 per game in its first four games. But the Hokies only scored the three points, getting in the red zone on just two occasions against the Tigers and coming away with a lone Cody Journell field goal. The other occasion ended when Tech failed to convert on fourth down early in the fourth quarter.

“I think we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities, and then you get behind the chain on these guys [third-and-long] and let them turn their ends loose that’s not a good position for us to be in,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “If we don’t fumble, if we don’t throw interceptions, we’re moving the ball early and the momentum changed there … To me, we need to continue to learn and continue to get better and take advantage of opportunities.”

Clemson led by only a touchdown at halftime, but the Tigers jumped on the board on their first possession of the second half. They took only three plays, the last coming on a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd to tight end Dwayne Allen. Chandler Catanzaro’s extra point gave the Tigers a two-touchdown bulge with 10:42 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers then put the game away midway through the fourth quarter. Mike Bellamy scored on a 31-yard touchdown run with 6:12 left in the game to ice things for Clemson. The Tigers botched the extra point, but took a 23-3 lead.

Tech, meanwhile, struggled, particularly in the final 30 minutes. The Hokies’ first four possessions of the second half ended in punts, and the fifth possession ended when, at the Clemson 12, Logan Thomas’ fourth-down pass fell incomplete. On the ensuing possession, Bellamy scored for Clemson to put the game out of reach.

“Our defense played a great game,” said Thomas, who completed 15 of 27 for 125 yards, with an interception, but was sacked four times. “They gave us more than enough chances. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot.

“We’ll go back and look at film and see what we can do better, like any other team would. But I think we left a lot of points on the field, and if we get those, it’s a different ball game.”

The Hokies’ lone score came late in the second quarter. Jayron Hosley’s third interception of the season gave Tech the ball at the Clemson 31, and the Hokies drove all the way to the Clemson 2. But on third down, officials called a false start on Tech’s offensive line, as center Andrew Miller apparently couldn’t hear Thomas’ cadence over the band.

That left Tech with third-and-goal from the 7, and a Thomas pass fell incomplete. The Hokies settled for a 24-yard field goal by Journell that tied the game at 3 with 4:35 left in the half.

“We were on the 2-yard line,” Thomas said. “That should be an automatic touchdown with the guys we have up front. Two yards should be nothing.

“But I think the band was playing, and the center didn’t hear the snap count. Everyone else went but him, so I think that might have been it.

Clemson took a 10-3 lead right before halftime. Thanks to a costly personal foul call on Tech’s Wiley Brown on the ensuing kickoff after Journell’s field goal, Clemson took over at the Tech 48. Led by Boyd, who converted twice on third down – including on third-and-8 from the Tech 35 when he found Sammy Watkins for a 23-yard gain – the Tigers went on a nine-play march that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by André Ellington. Cantanzaro’s extra point gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead with 1:49 left in the first half.

Boyd completed 13 of 32 for 204 yards, with a touchdown and an interception for the Tigers. Overall, Tech’s defense did a good job, holding the Tigers to 323 yards of offense – almost 200 yards below their average.

The Hokies now get ready for a critical ACC contest next Saturday when Miami comes to Lane Stadium for a 3:30 kickoff.

“This thing is far from over,” Beamer said. “BC scored on the last play of the game [in 2007], and I felt awful that night. We had the thing wrapped up, and all of the sudden, they go down the field. But we came back and beat them in the ACC championship game. Next week is a real important game.

“There’s no question we need to improve as a football team. But this thing is far from over.”

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

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