Sep 27, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka (54) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown on a fumble during the opening kick off against the Western Michigan Broncos at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
In the previous three matchup between the Hokies and the Broncos of Western Michigan the combined score was 135-0. With six seconds off the clock in this game the score was 141-0. The Hokies forced a fumble on the opening kick, which they returned for a score to start a game which ended up being a win the Hokies desperately needed. Virginia Tech improved to 3-2 on the season with a Homecoming win 35-17. The Hokies were up 11-0 in a blink of an eye as the defense got a safety on the Broncos first offensive drive. Then on the Hokies first offensive drive they marched down the field to get a 37 yard field goal by Joey Slye.
It looked as if the Hokies were going to run away with this one but problems from other games started to show up. The offensive line started to get pushed around, and as a result Michael Brewer had to run for his life on many plays. Brewer did not help himself out much as he tossed two interceptions in the first half, the first being returned to set up the first Western Michigan score. Sandwiched in the middle of the two miscues by Brewer was a nice touchdown pass to a wide open Bucky Hodges for the first Hokie touchdown. Brewer’s last interception of the half came in the end zone as the Hokies were driving for a score to end the half. The defense which had been strong the whole first half gave up two big pass plays and set up a Bronco field goal to end the first half. The halftime score was 18-10 and Hokie fans were a bit on edge.
No one knows what Frank Beamer said to his team at half time but the second half Hokies were an entirely different team. At half the Hokies had 81 yards on the ground by the end of the game they had amassed 308 yards. Beamer stated before the half in a sideline interview that he was going to challenge his offensive line to move the line of scrimmage forward and open holes for the backs to run through. Run was exactly what they Hokies did the second half and Marshawn Williams, who finished with 119 yards on 14 carries, carried the load. Williams was not alone as Shai Mckenzie finished with 87 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. The line when they protected Michael Brewer allowed him to be the quarterback he was the first two games. Brewer was 6-11 in the second half with one touchdown and more importantly no interceptions. Brewer finished with 178 yards on the day, the majority going to Bucky Hodges who led the team with 88 yards receiving on only 4 catches.
The defense was improved this week and buckled down to stop the underrated Western Michigan running attack. The Hokies only allowed a meager 19 yards on the ground. However, the defense could not contain Bronco playmaker Daniel Braverman, who finished with a 100 yards receiving on the day. Braverman was all over the field and made extremely tough catches in traffic, where it looked like the Hokie secondary was going to come up with a sure interception. The defense allowed 231 yards by the Broncos which was big improvement from the last two weeks.
The Hokies got the win today even if they didn’t clean up the two areas they have had the most problem with, in turnovers and penalties. The Hokies had 9 penalties for 69 yards and 2 turnovers, with the meat of their ACC schedule coming in the next four games these issues need to be squared away by the coaching staff. The Hokies got back to the old school techniques that made them so tough to handle for years. Running the ball and a strong defense needs to be a focus points for the rest of the season. Sprinkle in some “Beamer Ball” and the Hokies should be able to navigate the rest of the season just fine.