Virginia Tech Football Loses Season Opener to Boston College 35-28
Seasons change, but the issues for Virginia Tech remain the same.
The Hokies dropped their season opener 35-28 to the Boston College Eagles on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill, a deflating loss that posed more questions than answers for the Virginia Tech football program.
2019 was supposed to be a season in which the Hokies righted the ship. Perhaps that can still happen, but after shooting themselves in the foot time after time on Saturday afternoon, one can’t help but draw parallels to last season’s 6-7 campaign, the program’s worst since 1992.
Virginia Tech senior quarterback Ryan Willis was the epitome of everything college football is about. He was a roller coaster – a total adventure – displaying some good, but a whole lot of bad as the Hokies’ returning starter under center.
Willis went 29-47 for 344 yards and four touchdowns, including a 55-yard bomb to Hezekiah Grimsley to kickoff the scoring for the 2019 Virginia Tech offense. That was the good version of Willis.
The bad version of Willis is the one that cost the Hokies the game. The Hokies turned the ball over five times on Saturday afternoon, and four of those were on Ryan Willis. He threw three interceptions, including two passes that were picked off in the end zone to stymie Virginia Tech drives, and coughed up a costly fumble in the second quarter as well.
Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown accounted for three first half touchdowns, two in the air and one on the ground, to help the Eagles take a 28-14 lead into halftime. After a Ryan Willis touchdown pass to tight end James Mitchell late in the third quarter cut the deficit to 28-21, the Eagles responded, just like they did all afternoon.
After a period of defensive stops to open up the 4th quarter, Anthony Brown and the Eagles offense wore down the Hokies, courtesy of bruising runs from All-ACC running back A.J. Dillon and his counterpart, David Bailey, whose one-yard touchdown run with 7:53 to go put a dagger in the Hokies.
I say dagger with nearly eight minutes to go, because Virginia Tech’s offense has proven to be totally incapable of moving the football with any sort of urgency when trailing in a football game. Clock management, which was an issue for Virginia Tech all of last season, and quite frankly, throughout the entirety of Justin Fuente’s tenure, reared its ugly head again.
Instead of moving the football quickly down the field, the play calling included multiple running plays on the Hokies’ final scoring drive of the game, a mind-boggling 18 play, 83-yard drive that took 5:40 off the clock. The drive concluded with an 11-yard touchdown pass to newly-minted scholarship wide receiver Kaleb Smith (who was one of the Hokies’ few bright spots) with 2:13 to go.
After a pooch-kick gone bad, which in reality was like….half of an onside? The Hokies stopped Boston College on first and second down, using their final two timeouts in the process. On 3rd-and-10, A.J. Dillon drove a dagger to the Hokies with a little over 1:30 to play, with an 11-yard run to pick up the decisive first down.
After a couple of kneel downs, Boston College emerged with a huge conference win to kickoff the 2019 season.
For Virginia Tech, there are questions abound. From play-calling, to turnovers, to a lacking pass rush and incapable secondary, it’s hard to envision where the Hokies go next.
Old Dominion awaits next Saturday in Blacksburg, and as the Hokies seek to redeem themselves after last year’s debacle in Newport News, the football program enters familiar territory.