Jackets fall to Virginia Tech in close game

Quarterback Jeff Sims attempts to shed a tackle during Tech’s loss to Virgnia Tech on Oct. 30. Both defenses played well as the teams only scored a combined 43 points. // Photo by Ethan Vitak Student Publications

Tech came up short in its homecoming game against Virginia Tech last Saturday for its fifth loss of the season. The game started slow for the Jacket defense, with Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister finding receiver Tre Turner for a 69-yard touchdown on their second drive.

Tech responded with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, ending with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Sims to Kyric McGowan on fourth down for what would be their only touchdown for the half.

A quick response from Virginia Tech made the game 14-7, which was followed a few drives later by a Virginia Tech field goal. Tech’s offense continued to struggle to gain yardage, they would end the day going just 3-12 for third down conversions. As the half made its way to a close, Sims found Adonicas Sanders for what seemed to be a 52-yard play, which was called back by an offensive pass interference penalty. The half ended after another field goal by the Hokies put Tech down 17-7.

The Tech looked to be gaining momentum on their first drive of the second half. Sims found Jack Coco in the endzone, but the touchdown play was called back by a holding penalty on the offense, which would have to settle for a field goal. The next drive for Tech ended any momentum they had, with pressure from the Virginia Tech defensive line causing a turnover from Sims, giving Virginia Tech the ball on the Tech 22-yard line. The defense was able to stop what looked to be an almost certain touchdown with help from a sack by Jared Ivey and the Hokies settled for a field goal.

A drive later Tech offense found themselves with the ball at their own 36-yard line after a missed field goal by Virginia Tech. Sims started the drive with a 20-yard pass to Sanders, followed by a 21-yard pass to Kyric McGowan, which was capped off a play later by a 23-yard touchdown pass to Sanders, bringing the Jackets to a 23-17 deficit. The whole drive took just 51 seconds.

As the momentum looked to be shifting, Virginia Tech’s next drive ended with a punt and Tech found themselves at the 12-yard line, but were unable to convert on fourth down. The Virginia Tech offense proceeded to march downfield, taking valuable time off the clock in a seven-minute, 12-play drive that ended with a field goal.

The drive left Tech with just 4:17 on the clock. As pressure from both the defensive line and moving clock started to mount, Sims heaved the ball downfield on fourth down out of desperation, which ended with an interception, his second turnover on the day. The game was sealed, ending with Virginia Tech running out the clock with a final drive.

As the season rolls on, Tech’s offensive line struggles continue to plague the offense, with Sims having just a moment to throw the ball before being forced out of the pocket by oncoming defenders. The loss puts Tech second to last in the ACC, followed only by Duke.

As the Jackets travel next week to face Miami, they will face a defense that has allowed 30.6 points per game in what could be an opportunity for the offense to correct itself as the end of the season approaches.