No. 6 Notre Dame jumped out to a two-score lead in their biggest road test of the season but saw No. 24 Virginia Tech slowly, but surely, reel them in to cut the Irish’s halftime lead to 17-16 in a game dominated by stout defenses taking advantage of some equally shaky offenses.
The Irish struck first on their initial two drives of the game and generally quieted the hostile Lane Stadium environment in the first half but simply couldn’t execute down the stretch. Some of that had to do with quarterback Ian Book, who threw for 163 yards but made a bad throw in the second quarter for his first interception of the season. The signal-caller never seemed comfortable in the pocket and had a few notable overthrows of open receivers as well. It didn’t help that there wasn’t much of a run game to lean on though as the team was held to negative yardage (-2) when factoring in sacks.
It’s not like the Hokies were all that better moving the ball but they did take advantage of some short fields. A muffed snap on a punt early in the second quarter was a turning point that seemed to give the home crowd life but they could only muster a field goal after the turnover — a common refrain on the night.
Taking over for the injured Josh Jackson behind center yet again, Ryan Willis generally had a tough half against the attacking Irish defense. He threw for 139 yards (one touchdown) and rushed for another 19 but he turned the wrong way to blow up a critical play near the goal line and fumbled just before halftime that turned into a scoop-and-score for Julian Love. The run game wasn’t a lot to write home about for Justin Fuente either with Steven Peoples’ 41 yards the top mark on the ground.
While it looks like Notre Dame is the slightly better team in this one, the offense isn’t quite clicking on all cylinders and the door is still open (especially at home) for Virginia Tech to make things even more interesting in the second half.