BLACKSBURG – It was just an honest response by redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford to a question in the postgame press conference about how satisfied he thought the offense was when it went into the locker room at halftime after putting up 21 points in the opening half.
Stanford’s response was that it felt good, but, “We still have another half of football to play. We just scored 21 points in the first half, but they [North Carolina] could score 21 points in the second half.”
No one would have blamed defensive players Jack Tyler or Kyshoen Jarrett, who were also on the table with Stanford, if they would have burst out laughing because that is not what the Tech defense does, especially at home when the Hokies have a lead of 10 points or more.
With that being norm, the defense came out in the second half and recorded two sacks and a second interception of UNC’s Marquise Williams to help preserve a 27-17 victory over the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium. The win was the team’s fifth straight after a season-opening loss to No. 1 Alabama.
“I really liked the way we play. I think we played hard all week in practice,” Tyler said. “We’ve kind of been patted on the back here lately, but I don’t see any complacency or anything like that. I think everyone has come to practice every day with the same motivation that we want to be the best defense in the country.
“I think we’re striving toward it, but we can get better. We aren’t perfect yet and that’s what Coach (Bud) Foster demands is excellence.”
As stated, Tech’s defense does not blow leads in the second half at Lane Stadium – 12 straight home wins when leading at the break – and the last time they coughed up a double-digit lead in the second half was against Miami in 2011, when the Hurricanes scored 28 points after halftime. However, the Hokies still prevailed 38-35 in arguably quarterback Logan Thomas’ best game at Tech.
Since that game, Tech has allowed just 73 points in the second half in 11 home games, an average of just 6.64 points a game. Ten of those came Saturday against the Tar Heels.
Tech has allowed just 30 second-half points all year (six games), and North Carolina became the first team to score any points in the fourth quarter, getting a meaningless touchdown with 1:09 left in the game. It just shows how well the defense is playing.
“We’ve been doing a good job on that side of the ball, but we just sputtered during the second half,” Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “We got some three- and-outs of that nature, but we just kept getting back on the field and eventually that catches up to you, especially against this kind of offense. They are going to make a play. After that, we settled down until the last drive.”
The other thing the Hokies do not do is lose at home to unranked ACC opponents.
Since joining the league, the team is 24-2 at Lane Stadium against unranked ACC foes and has won 12 straight, last losing to the Tar Heels on Oct. 29, 2009, by a score of 20-17.
Add in all unranked teams and this was the 19th straight home win for the Hokies. Their last loss against an unranked team was that James Madison stinger in 2010, which also marks the last time they lost at home with a halftime lead.
Tech now stands at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the ACC and plays its next two games at home against Pittsburgh and Duke. But the Hokies are smartly not looking past Saturday’s tilt against the Panthers, who beat Tech handily last season.
“I think we’re looking forward to next week and see what we can do to get a win against Pittsburgh,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “After that, we’re going to look forward to the next game.”
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