DURHAM, N.C. – On a day when a lot went wrong for the Hokies, Tech got a critical fourth-down tackle from cornerback Kyle Fuller and a game-sealing interception from linebacker Barquell Rivers, and held on to defeat Duke 14-10 in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.
With the win, Tech moved to 8-1 overall, 4-1 in the ACC, and the Hokies knocked off the Blue Devils for the 11th consecutive time. Tech also extended its road winning streak to 11 straight games, the best active streak in the nation.
In addition, Tech continued its dominance in the state of North Carolina, winning its 14th straight (counting last year’s ACC title game vs. Florida State) and going 14-0 in that span since joining the ACC. Duke fell to 3-5 overall, 1-3 in the league.
For the game, Tech turned the ball over twice, missed a short field goal, committed nine penalties and amassed just 132 yards of offense in the second half. Yet the Hokies, to their credit, found a way to win and now head into a bye week looking for some rest and an opportunity to get healthy.
“We talked a lot about coming in here and leaving with a great game under our belt [heading into the off week],” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “What we leave here with is a win. I thought our football team hung on.
“Every week is not going to be magnificent, and this week certainly wasn’t magnificent for us. But sometimes, when you can get through a game when it wasn’t so good, that’s big in the big picture.”
Tech’s defense came up big in this one, especially coming up with the biggest plays in the game – the two late by Fuller and Rivers.
Duke trailed 14-10 late in the game and faced a fourth-and-two from the Tech 15 with less than five minutes remaining. The Blue Devils decided to go for it, but Fuller made two great plays – first pushing a running back down at the line of scrimmage and taking away a potential receiver, and then coming up and dragging down Duke quarterback Sean Renfree for a 3-yard loss at the Tech 18. Tech took over on downs with 4:37 remaining.
“I saw the running back come out, and my initial move was to come up and hit him because he was going to release,” Fuller said. “I guess he fell down. I didn’t see him, but I knew I had got some good contact on him.
“Then I saw the quarterback rolling out. I knew he was running the ball. I knew I had him, and I was able to make the tackle and get him down.”
Tech’s offense managed to drive into Duke territory on the ensuing possession, but eventually punted after driving to the Duke 34, giving the Blue Devils one last opportunity with 1:43 left.
Taking over at the 20, Duke managed to get to its 40. Facing fourth-and-1, the Blue Devils tried to throw the ball, but Renfree’s pass was tipped by Tech’s Cris Hill, and Rivers intercepted with 55 seconds left. He slid down at the Duke 38, and the Hokies ran out the clock to preserve the win.
“I was reading the quarterback, and I saw him looking to the left, so I broke to the left,” said Rivers, who got the start in place of the injured Bruce Taylor – his first start since tearing his quadriceps tendon in March of 2010. “The corner tipped it, and I caught it.
“ It felt good to get back out there and make some plays. Some people thought I wouldn’t play again after the injury, so it felt good to show some people I can still make some plays.”
The Hokies’ lone two scores came in the first half, and they made them hold up. Tech got on the board first in this one, going 85 yards in 12 plays and scoring on a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Thomas to tight end Eric Martin. Tyler Weiss, subbing for an injured Cody Journell, made the extra point to give the Hokies a 7-0 lead with 4:14 left in the first quarter.
But Duke answered. Aided by three 15-yard penalties on the Hokies – two pass interference calls and a personal foul penalty – the Blue Devils went 80 yards in 11 plays and tied the game on a 3-yard run by tailback Desmond Scott. Will Snyderwine’s extra point made it 7-all with 14:22 left in the first half.
Then, it was the Hokies’ turn to respond. A 90-yard drive, spearheaded by Josh Oglesby, ended with Oglesby scoring on a 1-yard run. His 31-yard run on the previous play set up the score. Weiss’ extra point gave Tech a 14-7 lead with 10:20 left in the first half.
That was it for the scoring for Tech, which accumulated 301 yards in the first half and 433 for the game. Most of that total came from the legs of tailback David Wilson, who rushed for 148 yards on 23 carries.
“We played well on offense early on, but I threw a couple of interceptions that really hurt,” said Thomas, who completed 17 of 28 for 190 yards, with a touchdown and two picks. “We had 300 yards or something like in the first half, which is better than usual.
“It’s a credit to their defense in the second half. They just played better. They played tougher. We had a couple of third-and-shorts that we couldn’t convert, and it didn’t get better from there.”
Tech’s defense, however, held the Blue Devils to a lone field goal in the second half. Snyderwine, an All-American last season, missed three field goals, including two short ones that helped the Hokies’ cause.
For the game, Duke finished with 326 yards. Renfree completed 17 of 35 for 204 yards and three interceptions.
Tech now takes a week off in preparation for a Thursday night game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tipoff for that critical Coastal Division matchup is 8 p.m.
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