BLACKSBURG, Va. — For the second time in three years, the Fighting Irish and Hokies went right down to the wire with the Irish coming out on top. Jonathan Doerer nailed a 48-yard field goal for the Irish with 17 seconds remaining to give the visitors a 32-29 win.
The scene was electric during pregame ceremonies. Enter Sandman played as the home team took the field and the Hokie faithful were extremely loud throughout the duration of the event.
Following the opening kickoff, the Hokies and Irish traded punts before the Hokies put together the first scoring drive of the game, culminating in a 7-yard run by Raheem Blackshear for the game’s first touchdown. John Parker Romo’s 19-yard field goal was a frustrating end to a 14-play drive in which the Hokies had three chances to score from the 1-yard line.
Down 10-0 after the first 21 minutes of the game, the Irish put together a solid drive highlighted by an incredible 46-yard catch by Kevin Austin that set up a Tyler Buchner rushing touchdown. The Irish defense forced two more quick Virginia Tech punts before the Irish offense could string together another scoring drive. This time, Kyren Williams scored from 8-yards out to give the Irish a 14-10 lead with only 32 seconds left in the half.
The Hokies offense put together a quick drive to get into range for a Romo 52-yard field goal that cut the Hokies’ halftime deficit to one point.
Virginia Tech’s offense continued that trend and drove deep into Irish territory. Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister found Tayvion Robinson in the end zone for a touchdown that would ultimately be nullified by an ineligible receiver downfield penalty. The Hokies would settle for another Romo field goal to take a 16-14 lead.
Justin Hamilton’s defense would force a Notre Dame three-and-out, but a quick Burmeister interception gave the Irish fantastic field position which they would parlay into another Kyren Williams touchdown to regain the lead.
The Hokies defense would follow up the Notre Dame score with one of their own as Jermaine Waller intercepted Buchner’s pass and returned it for a touchdown. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed and the Hokies led 22-21 heading into the game’s final frame.
With seven minutes to go in the game, the Hokies started a nearly five-minute drive which resulted in a Burmeister rushing touchdown. Burmeister, who re-entered the game following an earlier injury, turned in a gutsy performance throughout the night. Romo tacked on the extra point to give Virginia Tech a 29-21 lead.
With less than four minutes remaining, the Notre Dame offense retook the field, this time under the direction of starting quarterback Jack Coan. Coan led a quick and methodical drive that carved up the exhausted Hokies defense and found Avery Davis in the endzone to cut the lead to two. Kevin Austin made another incredible snag to convert the two-point try to tie the game at 29-all.
The Virginia Tech offense could only counter with a 26-second long drive resulting in a Peter Moore punt. The Irish drove down to the opposing 30-yard line and lined up to attempt a 48-yard field goal on 4th and 1 with 17 seconds left. Jonathan Doerer nailed the kick to give his team the lead which they would not relinquish.
For Notre Dame, it was a relieving effort to bring home a road win following a loss the week before to Cincinnati. For Virginia Tech, it was another case of “what could have been” in terms of the offense stalling out in the red zone and generally being unreliable to consistently move the ball.
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente said following the game, “Obviously, it’s a tough locker room. It was an incredible competitive event out there on the field tonight, between both teams. There was so much back and forth, with guys playing different roles and having to step in for guys going down. It obviously came down to the very end there. I told our team I love them and it’s a hard one to swallow but we’ve got to move on and get ready for conference play.”
The Hokies will resume conference play next week at home against Pitt at 3:30 PM.
Written by Greg Atkins