by Mike Potter
WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM Duke’s chances for going to a bowl this season have gotten a lot less likely over the past couple of weeks, but today the Blue Devils get an opportunity for a big upset.
The visitor on a cold, damp afternoon is No. 15 Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1 ACC), which is already locked into post-season play and could take a big step towards a Coastal Division title and a spot in the ACC title game with a win today.
Duke (3-4, 1-2) has been in four close games and is even in those, but the two hurtful losses have come to Richmond and Wake Forest in Durham. And Virginia Tech has won 10 straight road games, the longest active streak in Division I-FBS.
The Blue Devils play well, well enough to make it scary. But it’s the third close loss at home — by a combined seven points — as Tech prevails 14-10.
The game’s first three possessions end in turnovers before the Hokies get on the board with 4:14 left in the first.
The touchdown comes on Logan Thomas’ 2-yard jump pass to an open Eric Martin that completes a 12-play, 85-yard drive. Tyler Weiss adds the boot.
Duke responds with a long march of its own, 80 yards in 11 plays with Desmond Scott going in from three yards out with 14:22 left in the half and Will Snyderwine adding the try. That drive is aided by a pair of pass interference penalties against Hokie cornerback Jayron Hosley, attempting to contain Conner Vernon.
The Hokies come back quickly, as Josh Oglesby goes to the right side from a yard out to end an eight-play, 90-yard drive at 10:20. Weiss kicks.
But nobody is able to get any momentum the rest of the half, with turnovers and missed field goals dotting the stat sheet.
Snyderwine then cuts the Hokies’ lead to 14-10 on a 26-yard field goal with 7:31 left in the third.
But that turns out to end the scoring for the day.
David Wilson rushes 23 times for 148 yards to lead the Hokies’ 433-yard attack, while Thomas completes 17 of 28 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
Scott rushes 10 times for 72 yards and the Duke touchdown, catching four passes for 29 more. Sean Renfree completes 17 of 35 passes for 204 yards with three interceptions, with four completions to Vernon for 88 yards.
The Blue Devils lose despite a superb game from safety Matt Daniels who has both of Duke’s interceptions, two breakups and was in on 13 tackles.
They said it …
Duke coach David Cutcliffe: “I think we played well the whole game. (But) five plays on their part in the first half, we were in the wrong place and just didn’t get it done. It’s a pretty simple story. And we totally dominated in the (kickoff and punt) game.”
Tech coach Frank Beamer: “I thought (Duke) was a good football team coming into the game and I think they’re a good team as I leave. I’m proud of our effort, but I’m not proud of some of our execution. We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities, and when you do the game gets different. We didn’t and it stayed tight, and the tighter it gets the more (Duke) gets into it.””
Daniels: “We went out and really hit them hard. We knew it was going to be a physical game. We made sure we stayed focused for four quarters” We were also able to come out and dominate them defensively and give our team the opportunity to make plays and win the ball game.”
Snyderwine: “I lost that game for my team today, and that’s something kind of tough for me to deal with and something I have to live with. You can’t miss three field goals. It’s not what I expect and it’s not what anyone expects.”
What does it all mean?
That the Hokies are sailing on toward the title game again, and that Duke needs one heck of a miracle to go bowling.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Scott’s 47-yard run to set up a missed Snyderwine field goal.
VT leads 12-7.
Duke: Lost 3.
VT: Won 4.
Duke at Miami, Nov. 5, 3 p.m.
Va. Tech at Georgia Tech, Nov. 10, 8 p.m.