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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”