Oct 4, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer (R) talks with his team during a break in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies came into Chapel Hill today with the mission of getting a conference win that would hopefully set them on a positive course for the rest of the season. The Hokies accomplished their goal. However, it was not as pretty as Frank Beamer and company had hoped for at certain points. The game was really a tale of two halves with the Hokies dominating one and holding on for dear life in the other.
The first half was a thing of beauty for the Hokies. Coming into the game, there were definite areas of worry for the Hokies as the injury bug had bitten very important players on both sides of the ball. On the very first drive, the Hokie defense showed they did not care who was hurt on their side of the ball they were there to play. The defense forced a fumble on the Tar Heels first offensive drive.
This was one of two turnovers forced by the Hokie defense in the first half. The turnover set up a Marshawn Williams touchdown run. The Hokies’ defense was not done as they were stout all half, stopping the talented UNC quarterback Marquise Williams from breaking loose and getting the ball to the talented UNC playmakers.
Kendall Fuller essentially took away half the field for the Tar Heels passing game. When he was thrown at, Fuller made all the plays, even getting the second turnover in the half with an interception he returned for a touchdown. The defense, despite the injuries only gave up a field goal in the first half, which is a major win considering the offense UNC possesses.
The defense was not the only star of the half as the Hokie offense was very efficient and scored 17 points in the half. Michael Brewer completed 12 out of 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Brewer didn’t make any mistakes in the first half as he took what the defense gave him, which was a lot of underneath routes.
The rushing game was a huge part of the offensive success in the first half. Freshman Marshawn Williams rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown. Williams was not the only freshman who stood out in the first half. Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges had big catches and showed they are not afraid of the big stage. Cam Phillips made probably the best catch of the year along the sideline. Phillips stretched and made a NFL caliber catch that should be a SportsCenter Top 10 play.
The second half was completely different as the Tar Heels made it a game and put pressure on the Hokies to preserve the win. The Hokie offense was stagnant as the Tar Heel defense stood up to the challenge put forward to them by their head coach. The Hokie rushing attack was near nonexistent in the 3rd quarter and for most of the 4th. The running game could not get into rhythm and it seemed the offensive line was back to its former self, getting man-handled up front.
The most troubling problems for the Hokie offense was once again a slew of penalties and the injuries that mounted as the game went on. The Hokies had 8 penalties for 45 yards, 7 of which were false starts which put the Hokies behind the chains for most of the second half. The injury bug was felt in the second half on the offensive side of the ball as both Marshawn Williams and Trey Edmunds were taken to the locker room for medical attention.
Williams would come back out to the sidelines with ice on his ankle so hopefully the injury is not a serious one. Edmunds looked to hurt his shoulder on a big run in the 4th quarter where he was untouched. With the injuries mounting, one thing for sure is that the bye week cannot come soon enough for the Hokies.
Michael Brewer also threw another interception which set the Tar Heels up for a touchdown. Brewer was pressured deep in his own territory and once again threw into a bad situation. The interception is Brewer’s 11th on the year. Brewer continued his erratic play at quarterback. Hopefully, the Hokie signal caller will settle down for the rest of the season.
The defense played tough in the second half even though they surrendered two touchdowns, one on a short field after and turnover and the other on a well put together drive by the Tar Heels. Ken Ekanem starred for the defense recording 3 sacks, 6 tackles and a forced fumble. Ekanem did it all toady for an injury-plagued defensive line. The Hokies were able to ice the game after recovering a muffed UNC kick and punching it in the end zone two plays later.
This is a good win for the Hokies as it keeps them in the ACC Coastal division race. Even with the sloppy play, the Hokies were opportunistic in taking advantage of any Tar Heel mistakes. This trend of forcing opponent mistakes will need to continue for the rest of the season.
For now though, the Hokies will ride back to Blacksburg with a conference win and a much needed bye week on the horizon to try to get the injuries healed and to correct the many mistakes which seem to be a weekly hindrance.