BLACKSBURG, Va. - “BeamerBall,” described as a total team effort by Virginia Tech in putting points on the scoreboard – not just by the offense, but also by the defense and special teams – was certainly on full display Saturday at Lane Stadium, especially in the first half.
While the offense was sluggish at the outset, maybe suffering a bit of a hangover from its Monday night overtime win against Georgia Tech, the defense enabled the Hokies’ special teams to set up a couple short fields to help the offense score a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-point lead, and from there, Tech cruised to a 42-7 victory over visiting Austin Peay.
“The last time we did that [two games in five days], we were 0-2 right now, so at least we are 2-0,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “It is just a hard week and was just a tough game against Georgia Tech. It just takes a lot out of you.
“We came back and condensed our practices and got in the work we needed. We tried to get our health back, and it is just not easy playing two football games that quickly.”
In their first three possessions of the contest, the Hokies managed just 29 yards of total offense and were forced into their first turnover of the season, while managing to get to the midfield stripe for just a couple of snaps thanks to a 15-yard penalty by the Governors. Meanwhile, the defense was keeping Austin Peay’s offense off the field, as it did not allow a Governors first down until the second quarter (five straight three-and-outs) and held them to 24 total yards of offense in the first quarter.
After the fourth Austin Peay possesssion, in which the Governors punted from their own 15-yard line, Tech’s starting rover, Kyshoen Jarrett, fielded the kick at Tech’s 48 and returned the ball up the right side and almost scored, taking it back to the 6.
“I guess that helped overall,” a modest Jarrett said. “I was just doing my job and just doing what I had to do. I got some great blocks and that set us up for a touchdown.
“It definitely feels good, but I don’t think [playing special teams] affects me at all [on defense]. I just have to go out there and do what I have to do and put the offense in the best position. Then go back out there for defense and just perform to the best of my ability. But it’s a great challenge for myself, and I’m just happy that they picked me to do such.”
If Jarrett had scored on the return, it would have been the first punt return for a touchdown by a Tech player since October of 2010 when former cornerback Jayron Hosley scored on an 80-yard return against Central Michigan.
The Hokies punched the ball into the end zone three plays later, and the offense seemed on track. On their next possession, they converted a third-and-11 with a 25-yard pass play from Logan Thomas to tight end Ryan Malleck and moved into the red zone.
However, they failed on a fourth-and-1, and Austin Peay seemed to gain some momentum after its defensive stop. The Governors marched 33 yards in eight plays – which included getting their first three first downs – before failing on a third-and-13 at their own 41.
On the Governors’ punt attempt, Tech’s Tony Gregory rushed the punter from the right side and blocked the attempt. The Hokies took over at the Austin Peay 42, and five plays later, the offense was in the end zone again.
“On punt block, I try to sneak in there real quick so they don’t see me,” Gregory said. “Sometimes they’ve got me holding up or making sure their guy doesn’t sneak out. Then just at the snap of the ball, I get a jump – I just get the best burst I can get – and it’s too late for them to get me.
“The thing about Virginia Tech, you come here, you’re going to play special teams. So you might as well get that in your head. Virginia Tech is ‘BeamerBall.’ That’s the first thing coming in here that I heard about. So that’s just a part of this team.”
Ironically, Gregory was the last Hokie to block a punt – last year in the season opener against Appalachian State. Kyle Fuller recovered that block in the end zone for a touchdown.
Saturday’s block was the 129th blocked kick – 64th punt – in 311 games under Beamer at Virginia Tech. Former Hokie Keion Carpenter (1995-98) holds the Tech record for most blocked punts in a career with six.
“Yeah, that [the special teams plays] got us going,” Beamer said. “Both of them ended with scores, and we need to keep developing. Our punting game was good, and the coverage was pretty good for the most part. I think we took a step forward with our kicking game.”
Beamer, who also doubles as the team’s special teams coach, saw his punter, A.J. Hughes, average 44 yards per punt on five attempts, with two inside the 20; Cody Journell go a perfect 6-for-6 on extra-point attempts; and Beamer’s coverage teams allow just 61 return yards (kickoff and punt) on 12 chances.
After 26 years, “BeamerBall” is still paying dividends.
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