No. 18 Hokies shut out FCS foe
BLACKSBURG, Va. — With such a young offensive team, No. 18 Virginia Tech knows there will be games this season in which its defense and special teams must lead the way.
That was certainly the case Saturday in the Hokies’ 27-0 win over lower-division opponent Delaware at Lane Stadium.
Defense and special teams took charge, which is hardly a new story for Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech (2-0) held the Blue Hens to 223 yards in its home opener, forcing two turnovers and sacking Delaware quarterback Joe Walker four times.
The Hokies thrived in the kicking game as well, with a punt return touchdown from Greg Stroman and two field goals from Joey Slye, including a career-long 50-yarder.
Delaware (1-1), from the Football Championship Subdivision, was held scoreless for the first time since a 19-0 loss to Towson in 2015.
“Getting the shutout is big time. That’s not easy nowadays. We take pride in that,” said Hokies junior linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who finished with a game-high 14 tackles, including four for loss, and 1.5 sacks with a forced fumble.
The Blue Hens dominated time of possession and held the Hokies to only 303 total yards (81 rushing). But Virginia Tech was still able to run away with the game.
“Things weren’t going too well for us, or not the way we wanted them to go, but we just kept pushing, we kept trying to get a drive together and get points,” said Hokies redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson. “The defense played lights out. They kept us relaxed and they kept us cool because they just kept coming every play.”
Jackson completed 16 of 28 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Ssenior wide receiver Cam Phillips caught six passes for 90 yards and a score.
Walker was 8 of 17 for 116 yards. Blue Hens wide receiver Diante Cherry had three receptions for 41 yards.
“All across the board, I think there’s some positive to take away from it. I think we can leave the game saying that we gave it our best shot,” Blue Hens linebacker Troy Reeder said. “There’s a few plays we wish we had back, but just like in any game, especially a game like this against an ACC opponent, every big play matters.”
The Hokies broke open a relatively close contest with a big fourth quarter. Phillips caught a 28-yard scoring pass from Jackson to make it 24-0, and Slye added a 24-yard field goal to extend the lead to 27-0.
“This definitely isn’t a game to get discouraged about. We did a lot of good things, but we also did a lot of bad things,” said Delaware defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, who finished with five tackles and a sack. “We just have to come out and be ready to work to get ready for our next game,”
Virginia Tech led 17-0 at halftime despite only a 164-146 edge in yardage.
Stroman’s 61-yard punt return touchdown with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead. Stroman juked a couple of would-be tacklers before sprinting the rest of the way to the end zone.
Virginia Tech extended its lead to 10-0 midway through the second quarter on Slye’s 50-yard field goal.
The Hokies’ shutout was preserved when Delaware kicker Frank Raggo missed a 28-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
“We had a couple of big plays, and it takes that to keep them off the scoreboard,” Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.
The Hokies went ahead 17-0 late in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to running back Travon McMillian.
NOTES: CB Greg Stroman’s first-quarter score was the third punt return touchdown of his career, and it was the first punt return touchdown allowed by the Blue Hens since 2012. ... Stroman is the first Virginia Tech player with a punt return touchdown in three consecutive seasons. Only DeAngelo Hall (five), Andre Davis and Frank Loria (both four) had more punt return touchdowns during their Hokies careers. ... WR Diante Cherry became the 19th player in Delaware history to eclipse 100 career receptions, and he also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for his career. ... Virginia Tech freshman TE Dalton Keene made his first career start. ... RB Travon McMillian has scored a touchdown in five consecutive games dating to last season. ... Delaware DB Nasir Adderley blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. ... Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds recorded his first career sack in the third quarter. ... There was an announced crowd of 62,526.