The Virginia Tech Hokies fell to the Old Dominion University Monarchs by a score of 20 to 17 on Friday night, September 2, in the Hokies season opener. This game also marked the first game of the Brent Pry era, so Hokie fans did not truly know what to expect out of the team in this first game, although it is safe to say that most fans were cautiously optimistic of pulling out a victory.
But the Hokies lost, and there will be a lot of finger pointing in Blacksburg this coming week, as the team did not do itself any favors with the penalties and interceptions being the main takeaway from the game. Grant Wells’ first game as a Hokie came with optimism that the former Conference USA Freshman of the Year would be able to use his experience to add some stability to this important position. Even before the game, the main problem was expected to be Wells’ turnover issues, as he had 22 interceptions in two years at Marshall. This foreshadowed the problems that Wells would have against ODU, as he threw four interceptions on the night – especially important given that the Hokies only had 12 interceptions in the entire previous season.
Overall, the defense played well and helped to stop ODU up until the last few minutes of the game. Linebacker Dax Hollifield was the Prime Time Player on defense, doing a little bit of everything and showing that he will be a leader of the Hokie defense this year. Hollifield finished with 11 tackles, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Running back Keshawn King was the Prime Time Player on offense, having a big night with 111 yards rushing on 19 carries, with a touchdown reception from Grant Wells.
However, the story of this loss will be the interceptions from Wells, the 14 penalties for 100 yards, as well as the bobbled snap that not only took away the chance for Tech to put 3 points on the board, but led to a Monarch touchdown. This one play turned out to be the deciding factor in this loss, and demonstrates the lack of execution from a Hokie team trying to come together with a new coaching staff, new schemes and players. The Hokies will try to get back on track against Boston College in Game 2.
GAME SUMMARY – 1ST QUARTER
- The game started with a throw by Wells to Gallo for a 4 yard pickup.
- VT was assessed penalties from the outset, ultimately leading to 14 penalties in the game for 100 yards.
- ODU started with a 3 and out on their first possession.
- Wells completed a 40 yard pass to Caleb Smith for a large gain, after Wells took a hit but was able to get the pass off.
- VT scored first on a keeper by Wells as he rushed 19 yards for a touchdown.
- ODU also was assessed penalties that negated big plays, including on a VT punt return where the Monarch player touched the Tech player who had signaled for a fair catch.
- Wells threw his first interception at the 35 yard line, the first of 4 interceptions in the game.
- At the end of the first quarter, ODU quarterback Blake Wolff threw an incomplete pass on 3rd and 4, but Tech got a pass interference call that gave the Monarchs a first down.
- At the end of the first quarter, the score was VT 7, ODU 0.