Virginia Tech Football squeaks by Tulsa in offensive shootout


The Hokies survive late push by Tulsa to win 55-52. Frank Beamer is all smiles as he exits his last game as head coach with a win.

They say defense wins championships, which might explain why neither Virginia Tech nor Tulsa were playing for a championship this season. The score was 14-14 and I was doing a double take when I glanced at the clock. WE WERE ONLY THREE MINUTES INTO THE GAME!? The scoring would slow down, but not by much. Virginia Tech was on pace to score 90 points at halftime, as they headed into the locker room up 45-31, looking like they’d take care of business and easily cover the 14 point spread, sending Frank Beamer off with a win in his last game.

But Tulsa had other ideas, and after keeping Tech to 7 third quarter points and scoring 6 of their own, they began to gash Bud Foster’s defense like they had in the first quarter, while simultaneously keeping Tech’s offense from being able to produce much offense. They would score 15 points, hold Tech to a field goal, and would have one more drive to try to win it. That’s when Bud Fosters defense showed up and dominated the line, coming up with two sacks and forcing Tulsa to turn the ball over on downs, ending the game.

I’m going to focus on the negative first. Virginia Tech football has always been famous for their special teams, but also for Bud Foster’s defense. He’s been said to be more than qualified for a head coaching job, but giving up 52 points to Tulsa is embarrassing. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that the majority of Tulsa’s scoring was big plays. Regardless, 52 points is 52 points, and Bud Foster should wake up and shake his head. On Tulsa’s first drive, they went 75 yards in four plays and 46 seconds. Their next drive? 75 yards in 5 plays and 59 seconds. Tulsa’s best player, and one of the countries best receivers, Keyarris Garrett, was allowed breathing room, and once he got going, it opened up all kinds of running lanes for D’Angelo Brewer to gash the Hokies on the ground.

Dec 26, 2015; Shreveport, LA, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane quarterback Dane Evans (9) celebrates with wide receiver Nigel Carter (11) after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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They would settle in though, and it looked like Bud Foster had gotten his defense focused and ready to shut down Tulsa enough to finish out the win as the Hokies headed into the 4th quarter up by 18. But then, when great defenses close out games, they began to get gashed again. Most of Tulsa’s fourth quarter production would be through the air. Luckily, they began to get pressure on Tulsa’s quarterback, Dane Evans on Tulsa’s final potentially game winning drive. After giving up a first down, they sacked Evans twice and forced a turnover on downs to win the game. Here’s my problem though, Bud Foster should have known that Tulsa’s means for attack would be through Garrett and the rest of the receiver corps, and yet they seemed completely inept and unprepared to deal with them early. Had this been any other team with a better defense, Tech could have been blown out. But that does lead me to the positives of the game, consisting completely of the Hokie offense.

When Tulsa scored early and often, Tech responded by scoring early and more often. Their previous game against Virginia, the Hokie offense was very hit or miss throughout the game. There were a ton of three and outs. But Tulsa’s defense is one of the worst in the country, giving up an average of 39 points per game coming into this matchup. Regardless of how bad Tulsa’s defense was, putting up 55 on anybody as an impressive offensive stat. 55 points was more than Oklahoma was able to put up on Tulsa, and only behind… guess who? Justin Fuente’s Memphis, who beat Tulsa 66-42.

Dec 26, 2015; Shreveport, LA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer walks off the field after defeating the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 55-52 in the Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the day, Frank Beamer was able to go out with a win and move the Hokies to 7-6 in his last season. It wasn’t pretty, like most of this season has been, but Beamer was all smiles as he left the field. I cannot imagine the emotion he must have felt, but he sure seemed proud of his guys as he should have been. The Virginia Tech football program will now enter a transition period that hasn’t been experienced in decades as Fuente comes in and takes over the program. It should be interesting.

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