It was the kind of disastrous play that often leads to losses, one that caused Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer to apologize Saturday.
Leading Duke 17-16 with less than four minutes left, the Hokies had a fourth-and-16 play at the Virginia Tech 48-yard line. Punter A.J. Hughes set up looking like he would punt, only to pass.
Hughes did complete the throw to linebacker Josh Trimble, but only for 10 yards. Duke took over possession and then moved into field-goal position, only to have usually reliable Ross Martin miss from 40 yards.
Beamer said he was concerned about Duke’s punt rush and tried to get a signal to linebacker Derek Di Nardo. Instead, Beamer said, “somehow the code word for our fake got involved in there.”
Never miss a local story.
Beamer said the players “bailed” out the coaches and won the game, leading to the apology to his team after the game.
“You don’t make mental mistakes like that in the fourth quarter,” Beamer said.
Tough Day: Duke quarterback Anthony Boone had a mostly miserable day throwing the ball, hurrying a number of throws and having two picked off.
The Hokies gambled at times defensively, bringing an extra defender closer to the line to slow down Duke’s running game. Virginia Tech also was able to successfully blitz off the edges and sacked Boone four times.
“They have great great pass rushers,” Boone said. “They did a great job of creating pressure (and) got after us a little bit. You have to be on time and that pressure can kind of get you out of rhythm and throwing the ball a little earlier than you want to.”
Confidence in kicker: Martin, to his credit, agreed to speak to the media after missing the 40-yard field goal in the final minutes.
Not that any of his teammates would allow the junior to shoulder the blame.
“Ten times out of 10 I’m going with Ross Martin over any kicker in the country,” Boone said. “I’d put him in that position again and know he’s going to make it.”
Boone said nothing was said to Martin after the game, noting, “There’s not much you can say in that moment. Let it be what it is. That kind of stuff happens. We had plenty of opportunities – offensively, defensively, special teams – and we didn’t execute.”
Big road wins: Virginia Tech, which was coming off a bye week, has won three straight road games over ranked teams. Last season, they beat then-No. 14 Miami 42-24. The Hokies beat then-No. 8 Ohio State 35-21 in their second game this season.
“I don’t care what the (overall) record says, I’m really proud of this football team,” Beamer said. “We try to get better, we play tough and we don’t give up.”