irginia Tech football drops heartbreaker in final seconds to Notre Dame.
Virginia Tech football
The latest episode in Virginia Tech’s developing rivalry with Notre Dame featured all the twists and turns of a good thriller.
In front of a sold-out Lane Stadium crowd on Saturday night, the teams traded touchdowns in the last four minutes until No. 14 Notre Dame won 32-29 on a 48-yard field goal from kicker Jonathan Doerer with 13 seconds remaining.
“What a football game,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said somberly after the game.
Tech players who talked to the media after the game expressed their displeasure as well.
“It stings even more because we all felt we could’ve won that game and believed we should’ve won that game,” Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister said.
After being knocked out of the game for a short while at the conclusion of the third quarter with a right shoulder injury,
Burmeister went to the stage feeling the consequences of the defeat both emotionally and physically.
When he scored a 19-yard touchdown with 3:55 left in the game, he believed he had put Tech up for good. The Hokies took a 29-21 lead after a frantic third-and-15 scramble.
Burmeister was surrounded by supporters as he leaned on the end zone wall to recover his breath,
barely making it back to the sidelines before fainting in anguish.
Burmeister said, “We had a play that we had been repping all week attempting to take a shot on the left side of the field and into the end zone,
and they came out in virtually a prevent look.” “…I simply didn’t think it was a good idea to throw one up in the end zone with everyone back there,” he said.
Burmeister was pushed back into the game due to an injury to his backup, Connor Blumrick.
On the drive, Blumrick moved the offense over midfield but was sacked by Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa as he tried to scramble out of the pocket.
In the first half, Blumrick was used in a wildcat package and played a few snaps.
Fuente remarked of his quarterbacks, “They exhibited tremendous competitive spirit today.”
Notre Dame’s quarterback drama has its own hero in the form of benched starter Jack Coan.
When his substitute, Tyler Buchner, injured his ankle after throwing his second interception of the half, he was given another opportunity.
With 2:26 left in the game, Coan threw a 4-yard touchdown throw to Avery Davis and a successful 2-point conversion to Kevin Austin tied the score. On the drive,
he completed 5 of 6 passes for 58 yards. When Notre Dame received the ball back with the score tied,
he threw a pair of deep completions to put his side in field goal range.
“I’ve been in a lot of games and coached a lot of games,
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but I don’t think I’ve ever taught a bunch of players that were so focused and so strong that no matter what happened, they just kept playing,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
“He’s the first one on the field to help Tyler Buchner when he’s injured, and he’s psychologically prepared to come back in the game and lead two drives,
” Kelly said. “…What I get out of these games is seeing a guy like Jack Coan come in under those conditions and rise above it.”
Earlier in the half, the teams traded mistakes to help set up the tight finish.
Burmeister threw an interception to Tariq Bracy deep in Tech territory, setting up Kyren Williams’ 10-yard touchdown run four plays later.
In the play, Williams broke three tackles to reach the goal line.
With less than a minute left in the third quarter,
Notre Dame’s 21-16 advantage was shattered when Buchner threw a pick-six.
Buchner threw it outside of his original aim, straight into Jermaine Waller’s clutches in the Tech corner.
Along the sideline, Waller had no one in front of him and scored the Hokies’ first touchdown off an interception since Caleb Farley accomplished it against Georgia Tech in 2019.
After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Tech grabbed a 22-21 lead.
On the drive, Burmeister threw two first-down passes, one to Nick Gallo for 15 yards and the other to Tre Turner for 18 yards,
then Blumrick took a keeper off the left side for a 16-yard gain.
Returning to the beginning With 3:21 remaining in the first,
Raheem Blackshear scored a 7-yard touchdown run for the Hokies.
With the center of the line totally jammed, Blackshear bounced to the outside on the play,
and it was that second attempt that got him over the goal line.
In a scenario identical to their difficulties against West Virginia,
the Hokies had to settle for a field goal on their only other trip inside the red zone during the first half.
With a new set of downs at the 1-yard line, the offense was unable to punch it into the end zone.
The offensive of Notre Dame has its share of issues as well.
Notre Dame gained 27 yards on 13 plays with Coan at the helm and punted three times. On third down, Coan was sacked twice.
After Tech went up 10-0, Kelly sent in Buchner, who quickly marched the team down the field.
He threw a 46-yard pass along the sidelines to Austin. In the following play,
Williams scored a 1-yard touchdown run.
With a 10-yard touchdown run late in the half, Buchner gave Notre Dame its first lead.
Earlier in the drive, he connected with Avery Davis for a 37-yard gain,
and a defensive holding penalty helped the Irish convert a third-and-eight deep in Tech territory.
In the last 30 seconds of the half, Tech’s offense showed a pulse with four consecutive completions to move into field goal range.
John Parker Romo capped off the second quarter with a 52-yard field goal, the longest of his career.
Virginia Tech starting defensive end Tyjuan Garbutt stated,
“We just have to put our heads down and work because that’s what this team is truly based on.”
“It’s based on progress.” I’ll say this: It wasn’t the fact that we were angry that affected locker room morale.
It was more that we were aware that we had given them the game, and that was the sad part.
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