Hendon Hooker, Hokies beat No. 22 Wake Forest 36-17
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Bud Foster has been an assistant coach at Virginia Tech for 33 seasons, and before the Hokies’ game against No. 22 Wake Forest, the athletic department honored the retiring defensive coordinator for his accomplishments and years of service.
During the game, he showed why he deserved being honored.
Foster’s defense throttled Wake Forest’s high-scoring attack, and Hendon Hooker led an offense that got into the act, too, to help the Hokies beat the Demon Deacons 36-17 on Saturday.
Wake Forest (7-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) came in ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense and passing offense, but Virginia Tech held the Demon Deacons to season lows in both points and total yards (310). It also forced two turnovers and registered three sacks against a Demon Deacon team that had allowed just 10 sacks all season coming into the game.
The Hokies’ performance was the perfect way to honor Foster, who has been Virginia Tech’s sole defensive coordinator for the past 23 seasons.
“I’m real, real happy we won the game,” Foster said. “That’s the most important thing. I’m proud of the kids. They came back after a gut-wrenching, tough loss from a week ago (21-20 at Notre Dame).
“They showed a lot of perseverance in their approach all week. We played a really talented offensive football team. I’m just really proud of our kids and how they played today. I told them, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about you. We need to go take care of business today.’”
The Hokies (6-3, 3-2) overcame a 10-6 halftime deficit, scoring 30 second-half points to beat a ranked team for the first time since last year at then-No. 22 Duke.
“It was fun to be a part of,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “I go back to this — I’m really proud of our kids. They just continue to battle and block out the noise and work hard and stick together, and it’s fun to get to see them reap some benefits.”
Deshawn McClease scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. His 6-yard touchdown run with 7:02 remaining in the quarter gave the Hokies a 20-17 lead — one they never would relinquish. He had 59 of the Hokies’ 228 yards rushing.
Hooker completed 15 of 23 for 242 yards and rushed for 69 yards. His 7-yard touchdown run with 4:38 remaining sealed it.
“Honestly, it (the first half) was me,” Hooker said. “It was my fault. I told the offense, ‘I take full responsibility in us not getting in the box (end zone).’ Just coming out, I told them, ‘You guys got my back, I got your back, so (let’s) make it happen.’”
Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman completed just 16 of 35 passes for 238 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kendall Hinton caught eight passes for 162 yards.
“They probably covered us the best a team has covered us all year,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We didn’t get a lot of separation. We were off in the passing game.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are going to have to find a way to run better to keep their defense off the field -- they finished with 63 yards rushing against the Hokies. Finding that running game won’t be easy next Saturday with a trip to unbeaten and No. 4 Clemson looming.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies control their own destiny in the ACC’s Coastal Division race and need just one victory in their final three games to become bowl eligible for the 27th consecutive season. Two of their wins this season have come against FCS opponents, which means the Hokies need to get to seven victories to extend the nation’s longest active bowl streak.
TECH DOMINANT IN RUN GAME
In all four of Hooker’s starts this season since he took over as the starting quarterback, the Hokies have rushed for at least 153 yards, and Saturday, their run game allowed them to control the clock. For just the fourth time this season, they held the ball more than their opponents, finishing with a 36:09-23:51 advantage against the Demon Deacons.
“I think a good running game helps everybody,” Fuente said. “It helps field position, running the ball, and it helps your quarterback play and receivers. It’s been crucial and one of a couple things that has helped us. Obviously, having Hendon in there is other one.”
Wake Forest: At Clemson on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: At Georgia Tech on Saturday.