Sam Rogers

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Ew, Pig Sooie! Virginia Tech scores 35-unanswered points to win Belk Bowl, 35-24

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For one half of football, it appeared as though Arkansas (7-6) could do no wrong in the Belk Bowl against No. 22 Virginia Tech (10-4), but the Hokies roared back from a 24-0 halftime deficit with 35 unanswered points in the second half to capture a wild bowl victory. It may be a tad cliché, but this truly was a tale of two halves that showed why football games are 60 minutes long.

Bud Foster coached up his defense to tighten things up in the second half, and they responded with flying colors. The Hokies sacked Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen six times in the second half, with Mook Reynolds notching two. Reynolds and Tremaine Edmunds each recorded an interception as well to help turn the game around in Virginia Tech’s favorite. With the defense doing its part to prevent Arkansas from scoring again after taking a short-lived, yet commanding 24-0 lead, the Hokies offense had to do their part as well. And oh boy did they.

The Hokies scored five touchdowns in the second half, starting early in the second half after the defense forced an Arkansas turnover on the third play of the half. Jerod Evans completed 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns and he led the Hokies on the ground with 87 rushing yards and two more touchdowns. Travon McMillian had 34 key yards as well, including a six-yard scoring run one play after rumbling 21 yards for a big gain. McMillian’s touchdown run was likely the final nail in the coffin for the Razorbacks, who went from being down four points to down 11. Arkansas went three-and-out on their next drive and fumbled the football away on their next offensive series after that.

The play of the game may have been a one-handed touchdown snag by Sam Rogers to help cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 10 points.

The comeback from Virginia Tech goes down as the third-largest comeback in a bowl game over the last 10 seasons. Last year’s Alamo Bowl saw TCU dig its way out of a 31-point deficit against Oregon. Texas Tech also played its way back form a 31-point deficit in the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota, going from trailing 38-7 to winning 44-41 in overtime.

The ACC’s impressive bowl season continues

With Virginia Tech’s victory over the Razorbacks, the ACC improved to 5-1 in the bowl season. No other conference has won more than four games so far in the bowl season. The ACC’s lone bowl loss so far was suffered by Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl (the Panthers lost to Northwestern of the Big Ten). The ACC has winning records against the SEC (2-0) and Big 12 (1-0), is even with the Big Ten (1-1) and owns a victory over the AAC champion (Wake Forest beat Temple in the Military Bowl). The ACC is close to clinching a winning record this postseason with six postseason games to go (seven if Clemson advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game).

The SEC drops to 1-4 this bowl season after South Carolina and Arkansas each lost today. The SEC still has a very good chance to see Alabama win a national championship and there are still six additional games to be played to turn things around this bowl season, but this is a bit of a sloppy start to the bowl season for the SEC.

Looking ahead

So, where do we go from here? At Virginia Tech, the Hokies will go into the offseason very positive about the future of the program under the leadership of Justin Fuente. In Fuente’s first season on the job, Virginia Tech won 10 games to capture the ACC Coastal Division and gave Clemson a good battle in the ACC Championship Game, and it all ends with a victory over an SEC school in a bowl game. The 2017 season will commence in Landover, Maryland against former Big East rival West Virginia from the Big 12 on September 2, 2017. The Hokies will play an ACC schedule that includes a home game against Clemson in addition to North Carolina and Pittsburgh and road games against Miami and Georgia Tech. The Hokies should be one of the teams to watch in the ACC once again in 2017 as Fuente’s offense continues to come together in year two.

Arkansas will go back to the drawing board and contemplate just how this season went so up-and-down and ended the way it did. The Razorbacks will still be a team worth paying close attention to and not take for granted in 2017, and if they can find any positive consistency next fall they should be at least a mnild factor in how the SEC West plays out. They won’t be likely to de-throne Alabama, of course, but they can mess with teams like LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Of course, Arkansas will only play Auburn at home, while Alabama and LSU will be played on the road and Texas A&M will be played in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Arkansas begisn the 2017 season at home against Florida A&M on September 2, 2017 in Little Rock, and the Razorbacks host TCU of the Big 12 on September 9, 2017 in Fayetteville.

Arkansas going hog wild on Hokies in Belk Bowl with 24-0 halftime lead

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Few teams in college football have been quite as puzzling to figure out on a week-by-week basis as Arkansas. after one half in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, it appears the good Razorbacks have shown up against Virginia Tech. Arkansas leads the Hokies 24-0 at halftime of the Belk Bowl.

Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has thrown for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including one that was the result of an overturned call following an instant replay review in the second quarter to put the Hogs up 24-0 (Keon Hatcher caught the ball near the goal line and was credited with a score following a review).

Virginia Tech has been unable to get anything going on the ground against an Arkansas team that has struggled to stop the run all season long, and it was on the wrong foot right from the first snap of the game. Sam Rogers fumbled away the football to Arkansas on Virginia Tech’s first play of the game, setting the Razorbacks up at the Hokies’ 26-yard line. Arkansas was held to a field goal as the Virginia Tech defense came to the rescue. The Hokies turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when Jerod Evans was sacked by JaMichael Winston and Jeremiah Ledbetter. Evans was intercepted two possessions later, leading to an Arkansas touchdown town plays later.

There was a bit of an officiating meltdown toward the end of the first half on a muffed punt by Virginia Tech. Arkansas, despite never having control of the football during this sequence, was awarded the football following a penalty by Virginia Tech and multiple meetings between the Big 12 officiating crew and separate tongue-lashings by both head coaches Bret Bielema and Justin Fuente.

The Razorbacks are without tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Sprinkle was suspended after reportedly shoplifting from a Belk department store, despite the Belk Bowl giving players a Belk gift card to spend.

UNC clinches ACC Coastal Division and spoils Beamer’s home finale in overtime

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It looked as though No. 17 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0 ACC) was well on its way to wrapping up the ACC Coastal Division in Blacksburg, but sometimes winning in Lane Stadium against the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 4-3 ACC) is never as easy as it seems. The Tar Heels gave up two late fourth quarter touchdowns to the Hokies and would need to win it in overtime. Ryan Switzer caught an 18-yard touchdown from Marquise Williams on UNC’s possession of overtime to capture the win and the ACC Coastal Division championship.

Down 24-10 with just under five minutes to play, Virginia Tech quickly moved down the field after starting at their 37-yard line. Michael Brewer‘s 25-yard pass to Sam Rogers got the Hokies in UNC territory and a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Ford two plays later took them to the 11. Bucky Hodges would haul in an eight-yard pass on a fourth down from the eight-yard line for a touchdown to cut the UNC lead to one. UNC fumbled away the football on the ensuing drive, and Brewer again found Ford for a big play a few plays later. A short touchdown pass to Ford tied the game at 24-24 with 1:07 to play. The game would go to overtime, thanks in part to a bizarre timeout called by Larry Fedora on the UNC sideline.

North Carolina still has one more game to play before getting set to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in two weeks. UNC visits North Carolina State in Raleigh next week to conclude the regular season. North Carolina can keep some outside playoff hopes alive with a win next week.

The Tar Heels have never played for the ACC Championship. Since the championship game was introduced by the ACC in 2005, only Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke have represented the Coastal Division in the championship game. Virgina Tech was the last Coastal team to win the ACC when it topped Florida State in 2010. Coastal champs are 3-11 in the title game, with Clemson or Florida State winning each of the past four seasons (Florida State has won the last three).

Of course, the loss also carries a bit of an additional sour note for Virginia Tech. This was the last home game to be coached by longtime Hokies head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer announced his retirement that will be effective at the end of the season. Beamer’s Hokies now must win next week’s game against Virginia in order to keep Virginia Tech’s season going. Virginia Tech needs one more win to become bowl eligible this season. Beamer has taken Virginia Tech to the postseason every year since 1993.

Virginia Tech scores 17 straight for halftime lead on Ohio State

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Ohio State looked unstoppable on its first eight plays from scrimmage tonight in Blacksburg. Eight offensive plays into the night, Ohio State was up 14-0 thanks to a nice touchdown pass from starting quarterback Cardale Jones and an 80-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott. Since then the Virginia Tech Hokies have chipped away and taken a surprising lead, 17-10.

Ohio State got on the board on its first offensive possession of thew night, with Urban Meyer sending Jones out to lead the offense. Seven plays later Jones was celebrating his first touchdown pass of the season, this one to Curtis Samuel from just outside the red zone. Ohio State wasted no time getting back on the board on its next possession. Eliott broke free for an 80-yard touchdown up the middle fo the defense, surging Ohio State to a commanding 14-0 lead. Converted wide receiver Braxton Miller even got in the stat sheet with his first catch of the season showing off some good concentration and hands on a 24-yard gain. Ohio State’s offense has hit a bit of a wall though with the next three possessions resulting in a missed field goal, an interception off a tipped pass and a punt.

Virginia Tech was not without its own little wrinkles on offense. Early in the second quarter Michael Brewer completed a wheel route pass to fullback Sam Rogers down the left sideline, and the shifty fullback did the rest of the work. Rogers raced down field and reached the end zone after making an Ohio State defender (Eli Apple) break his ankles. After missing a 50-yard field goal try earlier in the half, Joey Slye cut into the Ohio State lead with a 46-yard field goal. Following the special teams mistake by Elliott of Ohio State, Brewer went deep to Isaiah Ford for 36 yards to the door step of Ohio State’s end zone. Brewer found a wide open Ryan Malleck in the end zone for the go-ahead lead.

Ohio State will get the football to begin the second half.