Hokies rally in second half to top Notre Dame

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Virginia Tech (8-3) 01471334
Notre Dame (4-7) 10147031
  • Notre Dame Stadium - 80,795
  • Passing: Jerod Evans 267 yds
  • Rushing: Jerod Evans 67 yds
  • Receiving: Isaiah Ford 86 yds

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye hit a 20-yard field goal with 4:21 left and that was the game winner, as the Hokies twice rallied from 17-point deficits to knock off Notre Dame 34-31 on a blustery Saturday evening at historic Notre Dame Stadium.

With the win, the Hokies bounced back from last Saturday’s disappointing loss to Georgia Tech and moved to 8-3 overall on the season. Notre Dame fell to 4-7 overall and all but saw their chances at playing in a bowl game disappear.

“I’m awfully grateful when I think back on all the football games I’ve been a part of in my life,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “The first thought is not throwing a post for a touchdown, or scoring a touchdown, or calling a play that results in a touchdown, or any of those things. It’s always getting a chance to share those things with other people. Having a chance to share with Jen (his wife) was special.

“Virginia Tech is a special place. I don’t mean just a special place to coach football. It’s a special place to be a part of and the pride that people have in Virginia Tech, whether they work at Virginia Tech or live in Blacksburg or went to school there, is palpable. You can see it. Sometimes, you can see it a little bit easier at road football games. It was a great example of that today. Watching the Hokie Nation turn out and watch those kids … I’m telling you, I work them hard now. They work hard. To get that reward is special.”

The Hokies trailed 17-0 and 24-7 in the first half, but rallied in the second half. They cut the lead to 24-21 on their first possession of the second half when Steven Peoples scored on a 2-yard run.

Notre Dame pushed the lead back to 10 when Josh Adams scored on a 67-yard run with 3:49 left in the third quarter. But the Hokies scored the final 13 points of the game.

Tech tied the game at 31 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jerod Evans to Bucky Hodges with 9:13 remaining. After a stop, the Hokies got the ball back and embarked on a 10-play, 51-yard drive that led to Slye’s game-winning field goal.

Notre Dame tried to mount one last drive in the final minute, but Tech’s defense stopped the Irish on fourth down at the Tech 47 on the game’s final play, setting off a wild celebration.

Evans paced the Hokies’ offense, accounting for 334 yards of offense. He completed 22 of 29 for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, and he also rushed for 67 yards and a score.

Notre Dame amassed 435 yards of offense, but Tech’s defense held the Irish to just six first downs in the second half.

BIG PLAYS

• On what would be the Hokies’ game-winning drive, Evans accounted for 49 of the 51 yards. His total included a 20-yard pass to Isaiah Ford early in the possession that started things for the Hokies and led to Slye’s game-winning field goal.

C.J. Carroll hauled in a 62-yard pass early in the third quarter that led to Peoples’ 2-yard touchdown run. That score cut the Notre Dame lead to 24-21.

• The Hokies cut the lead to 24-14 right before halftime on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Cam Phillips. The big play on the drive came early in the possession when the Hokies faced third-and-11 from the Tech 24. Evans kept the ball on a keeper, gaining 11 yards to get the first down to jumpstart the scoring drive.

• Evans’ interception actually should have been a touchdown. He threw a perfect pass to Phillips, but Phillips bobbled the ball into the air and it was intercepted by the Irish’s Drue Tranquill. Notre Dame scored four plays later on a 67-yard run by Adams.

GAME NOTES

• Thanks to his 10 points against Notre Dame, Slye became the 10th player in Tech history to score 300 points in a career. He needs just seven more field goals to break Shayne Graham’s school record of 68 career field goals.

• With two touchdown passes and a touchdown run, Evans increased his total touchdowns to 31, breaking the previous single-season record of 30 held by former Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (2014).

• Evans’ two touchdown passes now give him 24 on the season, tying the school record held by Tyrod Taylor (2010).

• Peoples set a career high with 11 carries in the game. His previous career high was two carries. He finished with 32 yards rushing.

• Isaiah Ford caught a team-best seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Ford has now caught at least one pass in 36 of 37 career games.

• Hodges’ touchdown reception marked the 19th of his career, moving him into sole possession of second place on Tech’s all-time list. He only trails teammate Ford, who caught his 25 career scoring reception in the game.

• Tech has now scored 468 points this season and needs just seven against Virginia to break the single-season record of 474 points scored by the 2010.

UP NEXT

The Hokies close the regular season next Saturday when they take on Virginia in the two programs’ annual rivalry game. The Hokies have won 12 straight against the Cavaliers and 16 of the past 17. The kickoff time will be decided later Saturday night or on Sunday.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter and on Instagram @vthokiefootball Instagram

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