Virginia Tech’s Road to the Military Bowl

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Virginia Tech’s Road to the Military Bowl

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On November 23, the Virginia Tech Hokies did what they have done every year for the past 15 years: they beat UVA and retained the Commonwealth Cup. The 34-31 victory for the Hokies featured a crazy ending and a game-saving fumble recovery by Hokies receiver Hezekiah Grimsley.

The Hokies had a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter before giving up 17 unanswered points to make the score 24-31. They got the ball back at their own 25 yard line with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter. On third down, Ryan Willis lobbed a 45 yard pass to Dalton Keene that brought the Hokies to the UVA 30-yard line. On the next play Ryan Willis threw an 11 yard pass to Tre Turner to put the ball on the 19-yard line. With 1:51 left in the game, Steven Peoples ran 19 yards into the end zone and fumbled the football. The ball was picked up in the endzone by Hezekiah Grimsley for the touchdown. Placekicker Brian Johnson hit the extra point, and the game was tied 31-31. Both teams traded punts, and the game went to overtime.

Virginia Tech started with the ball in overtime at the UVA 25 and kicked a field goal to take the lead. UVA got the ball at the Virginia Tech 25. On first down, UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins fumbled the ball. Virginia Tech recovered it and ended the game.

The win over UVA brought Virginia Tech’s record to 5-6, which meant that they could schedule another home game to become bowl eligible for the 26th straight year. They scheduled Marshall, and the teams played on December 1.

This game was much more lopsided than the UVA game. The Hokies won soundly, beating Marshall 41-20. It was a huge day for Ryan Willis, who, in just nine starts, became the sixth Virginia Tech quarterback in school history to throw for 20 touchdowns in a season. The win brought Virginia Tech to 6-6, which made them bowl eligible and extended the longest bowl streak in the FBS.

Virginia Tech is scheduled to play the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, on December 31. This matchup may be familiar to some Hokie fans, as this was the same matchup for the 2014 Military Bowl, where Virginia Tech won 33-17.

Cincinnati (10-2) spent the season in and out of the Top 25 and is the favorite to win the game. After missing the postseason two years in a row, Cincinnati has had a huge resurgence this season. Their offense has scored almost 35 points per game this season while their defense has allowed just under 17 points per game. Running back Michael Warren II leads the team with 1163 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, and he could present a problem to a Hokies defense that has struggled to stop the rush. This is a plus matchup for the Bearcats, who hope to avenge their Military Bowl loss four years ago.

Virginia Tech (6-6) is having a disappointing season. They lost eight defensive starters from last year, kicked first round NFL Draft prospect Trevon Hill off the team, and lost to ODU in perhaps one of the worst football upsets in FBS history. They have also allowed a staggering 30 points per game while only scoring 29 points per game in an offense led by quarterback Ryan Willis, who is filling in for an injured Josh Jackson. The Hokies have work to do to prepare for the Bearcats again, and they go into the matchup as the underdog.

Many Blacksburg High School students are anticipating this game, and have thoughts on how its going to turn out.

“I think we didn’t even deserve to make the bowl game. We had an awful season and the wins over UVA and Marshall are a false sense of security. We literally had to call in Marshall just so we could beat them and keep the bowl streak. Now we are looking at this season like it wasn’t a failure when it absolutely was. I don’t know much about Cincinnati football, but they will still probably beat us,” said Andy Via, Senior.

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