“First, I take my hat off to Virginia Tech. That was clearly the best football team we’ve played. The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest.”
Those were the very accurate words of first-year ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery following Saturday’s 54-17 blowout loss at Virginia Tech.
For a second straight week, things went downhill quickly, but the Hokies (3-1)—unlike South Carolina—didn’t allow the Pirates (2-2) to make a game of it. Justin Fuente’s club kept its foot on the gas and routed its opponent for a second straight week (The Hokies shut out Boston College, 49-0, last week).
On a day that featured legendary coach Frank Beamer being honored at Lane Stadium, it was fitting that the Tech special teams’—”Beamer Ball”—got things rolling and continued to be in full effect throughout the game’s first half.
ECU punter Worth Gregory boomed a 62-yard punt, but he out kicked his coverage and the Hokies’ Greg Stroman proceeded to take it 87 yards untouched for the game’s first score.
Later, a 27-yard field goal was blocked—the second chip shot field goal blocked in as many weeks—and a punt. Additionally, Gregory was tackled for a 15-yard loss on an attempted rugby punt in the fourth quarter.
The Pirates knew they would have to take advantage of man-to-man match-ups and make plays down the field against Bud Foster’s attacking D if they were going to defeat Virginia Tech for a third straight season. However, they were largely unable to do so until the issue was decided. The offensive line struggle to protect Philip Nelson and the running game was non-existent. ECU had less than 40 yards rushing through three-plus quarters.
Defensively, ECU struggled to stop the big play—especially in the passing game.
Jerod Evans, who threw for 282 yards and three scores on just 13 completions, sidestepped the Pirates’ rush and connected with Cam Phillips on a 55-yard touchdown pass to produce a commanding 38-0 advantage at intermission. Later, a spectacular 55-yard run by the Hokies’ signal-caller made it 47-7 with 4:27 to play in the third quarter.
Isaiah Ford racked up 117 receiving yards on just four catches for Virginia Tech.
After being unable to muster much early, Nelson found Jimmy Williams for a pair of long scoring strikes (75 and 70 yards) in the third quarter and finished the game with 362 yards through the air—the third-time in the first four games that he has eclipsed the 350-yard plateau.
Zay Jones finished with 10 receptions for 115 yards—the third time in four games that the senior wideout has had 10-plus catches for more than 100 yards.
ECU’s red zone woes against South Carolina—2-for-6 with just a single touchdown and 3 turnovers—were well-documented. Those issues continued in Saturday’s humbling loss as the Pirates converted on just one of its three trips inside the Hokies’ 20-yard line and failed to reached pay dirt.
With the non-conference portion of its schedule complete, ECU will now prepare to host UCF (2-2) in what will be the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.