BC Commits Five Turnovers in Resounding Defeat to No. 23 Hokies
Making his first start of the season Saturday night against Boston College, Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker picked up right where he left off in the second half at then-No. 8 North Carolina. The redshirt junior, who missed the first two games of the year with an illness, was incredibly efficient, both in the air and on the ground.
Hooker completed his first eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball seven times in the first half for 75 yards and a score. The dual-threat quarterback faked a jet sweep handoff before scampering for a gain of 30 yards. A few drives later, he pulled it on the zone read for a pickup of 31. Then, on the same series, he took a designed quarterback run seven yards to the pylon for a Hokies touchdown.
Under the lights of Lane Stadium, Hooker was close to perfect in the first half.
Phil Jurkovec, on the other hand, was far from it.
The Eagles’ breakout transfer quarterback looked like a rookie, botching a pitch to David Bailey and throwing a head scratching interception downfield. Jurkovec was responsible for two of BC’s three first-half turnovers—a mark that tied the Eagles’ season total. Hooker and Virginia Tech capitalized, establishing a 17-7 lead. It was more of the same in the second half, and BC, which finished with five turnovers on the night, never recovered, falling, 40-14.
No. 23 Virginia Tech (3-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast) was only missing 13 players Saturday night, a mini milestone considering the program—coping with COVID-19 contraction and injuries—had 23, 21, and 15 player absences the previous three weeks, respectively. The Hokies’ secondary, which was shredded last week against the Tar Heels, was missing just two players from its two-deep: cornerback Jermaine Waller and nickel J.R. Walker.
A healthier Hokies defense looked much improved. Still, BC (3-2, 2-2) had no trouble moving the ball throughout most of the game, especially during the first half. The Eagles logged 205 yards of total offense in the opening two quarters.
On the game’s first series, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. balanced the pass with the run, as BC methodically picked up fresh sets of first downs.
Bailey recorded four carries, tallying 17 productive yards in the process. But when redshirt freshman Patrick Garwo’s number was called, the Eagles’ drive came to a screeching halt. After Garwo surged for a gain of 14 yards, Virginia Tech safety Divine Deablo—back for the first time since the Hokies’ season opener—poked the rock loose.
Right from the get-go, Hooker showed off his legs, advancing the Hokies past midfield. BC buckled down, forcing Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente to trot out his kicker for a 53-yard attempt. The snap was low, and Brian Johnson, who came with 17 consecutive made field goals (the longest active streak in the Power Five), pushed the kick right.
The Eagles’ second drive was even more promising than their first. Jurkovec fired a 36-yard strike to CJ Lewis, and Bailey polished off a 14-yard run, his longest of the season. BC was well on its way to the end zone before it shot itself in the foot at the Virginia Tech 14-yard line.
Jurkovec collided with Hunter Long in the backfield and flipped an errant pitch to Bailey. The junior was leveled on impact, and the ball hit the turf. Virginia Tech linebacker Alan Tisdale jumped on it, giving the Hokies their second takeaway of the night.
“On the fumble, I don’t know what happened,” Jurkovec said. “I got bumped a little bit, and I tried to pitch to him—that’s inexcusable. I can’t do that on a run play.”
The Hokies rattled off four chunk plays of 10+ yards on their subsequent series, but the Eagles’ defense once again held for a field goal. This time, Johnson redeemed himself with a 41-yarder.
Of BC’s first four possessions, only one ended without a turnover. Instead, Jurkovec found Jehlani Galloway down the sideline for a 30-yard connection, Zay Flowers on a pair of out routes, and Jaelen Gill in the middle of the field for the Ohio State transfer’s first touchdown of the season. Those three receivers combined for 17 receptions and 229 yards on the night.
10:57 left in Q2: BC 7, VT 3.— Andy Backstrom (@andybackstrom) October 18, 2020
Hunter Long draws attention on the post route, freeing up Jaelen Gill, who sits in the middle of the field before hauling in a Phil Jurkovec pass and angling toward the paint for six.
That's the Ohio State transfer WR's first TD of the year. pic.twitter.com/OTgRN6wYNr
It only took Virginia Tech one minute and 59 seconds to respond, in large part because of a short kick and a 29-yard Keshawn King return. Hooker took care of the rest. After his seven-yard rushing touchdown, he already had 71 yards on the ground, and Virginia Tech was in the driver’s seat, 10-7.
Jurkovec coughed up the ball on the following drive with the first of his two interceptions. The ACC’s leading passer completely misfired on a deep ball intended for Flowers. It ended up in the arms of cornerback Devin Taylor, jumpstarting another Hokies series. Hooker piloted a 74-yard touchdown drive, which culminated in a 29-yard screen pass to Kansas grad transfer Khalil Herbert.
Jeff Hafley’s team trailed by 10 points going into the half, however, the Eagles got off to just about as good of a start as they could have imagined in the third quarter.
BC forced a three-and-out on defense and then strung together a 12-play scoring drive—one that included a 4th-and-7 Galloway conversion and a 20-yard touchdown where Long bulldozed through a handful of Hokies before stretching the ball past the plane.
From there, a three-point game unraveled into a 26-point rout. Virginia Tech rode the nation’s third-best rushing attack to the finish line. The Hokies didn’t even attempt a pass in the second half until the 2:14 mark in the third quarter.
“Our main objective on defense is to stop the run,” fifth-year BC linebacker Max Richardson said. “And they ran the ball pretty good on our ass. So when you don’t stop the run, you can’t win.”
Herbert, who came into the week with the fifth-most rushing yards in the nation, added to his Heisman Trophy resume with a 57-yard run down the sideline. Hooker wrapped up the drive with the second of his three rushing touchdowns, first faking a handoff to Raheem Blackshear and then using a jump cut to clear space to the end zone.
Chamarri Conner ripped the ball away from BC scatback Travis Levy on the ensuing drive, and Virginia Tech cashed in with another Johnson field goal to extend the Hokies lead to 27-14.
Virginia Tech all but put the game out of reach after an Eagles three-and-out at the start of the fourth quarter. Blackshear shook off three BC tackles amid a 28-yard touchdown run, the Rutgers transfer’s first score since the Hokies’ win over North Carolina State.
Jurkovec, who was 28-of-51 for 345 yards, hooked up with Gill and Galloway for critical receptions down the stretch, yet the Eagles—in desperation mode—couldn’t finish drives. The redshirt sophomore threw his final interception when trying to fit a pass to Long on a seam route. It was deflected by Deablo, and Brion Murray was there for the pick.
Hooker put an exclamation point on Virginia Tech’s resounding win with a zone-read touchdown in the game’s waning minutes. The dynamic quarterback spun past Mike Palmer and carried Richardson into the end zone. Hooker clocked out with 164 rushing yards, the most by a Hokies quarterback since Michael Vick ran all over BC for 200 yards during the 2000 season.
BC allowed Virginia Tech to score 20 points off five turnovers, committed nine penalties, and failed to slow down a Hokies run game that piled up a whopping 350 yards. Hafley knows that his team can’t beat anyone playing like that, but he’s already turning the page.
“We’re going to learn from this. And I can’t wait to get back and practice and get it right. But I’m even more confident now. You guys can all think I’m crazy, but it just shows me the type of group we have. I can’t wait to play again.”
The Eagles, losers of two of their last three, will host Georgia Tech next week. They’ll have a chance to prove that Saturday night’s self-implosion was just a blip on the radar.