The latest portion of Virginia Tech's football curriculum? The Atlantic Coast Conference.
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With 19 points scored and zero allowed Saturday at Alumni Stadium, the first examination was a resounding success. The Hokies opened their conference schedule with a momentum-changing victory.
"I think it's huge," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "But it's still week to week. We understand we have to continue to get better. We still have a lot of young guys running around and that we have some getting better to do."
The Hokies' red-zone production left much to be desired — kicker Chris Hazley was the most productive player on the team with four field goals — but a suffocating defense, which handed the Eagles their first shutout in 12 years, was more than enough for the win.
"We came in here to a tough place, and we asked our kids to be mentally and physically tough," Beamer said. "I think we did that. Our defense hung in there throughout."
The Hokies, carrying a 7-0 lead into the second half, received all they needed from Hazley — who converted on two 29 yard field goals, as well as kicks from 45 and 32 yards out.
The majority of Tech's second half third down plays all shared the same theme — an opportunity lost. A sack by BC's Alex Albright, a forced quarterback keeper by Tyrod Taylor (16-21-237), and an interception by Eagle Mark Herzlich all either forced a field goal or ended a scoring drive.
In a half of lost opportunities, close calls, and costly penalties, the Hokies escaped to the locker room with a 7-0 advantage.
In perhaps the only efficient drive of the first 30 minutes, Virginia Tech wrapped up a 9-play, 80-yard drive that only took 4:11 off the clock.
David Wilson was a one-man show for Tech, contributing to a majority of Tech's scoring drive. Darren Evans had the final say, however, angling himself to the right side of the end zone on a 3-yard run, giving Tech the lead five seconds into the second quarter.
The Hokies gave every BC every opportunity to tie the game in the closing seconds of the half, but the Eagles couldn't take advantage.
With 15 seconds remaining and BC on its own 12 on 2nd and 7, Steven Friday hit Eagles quarterback Dave Shinskie on a massive blindside sack. The play was nullified, however, when referees ruled that Tech had already called a timeout.
The turnaround in momentum was significant, as BC received a first down after Friday was called for a personal foul. Shinskie couldn't seal the deal on a keeper, however, as the clock expired when he was wrapped up by Davon Morgan on the 1-yard line.
"These games at BC — they're usually won with a small thing here, or a small thing there," Beamer said. "That was a small thing that could have been a really big thing. I didn't quite understand the whole thing."
BC, and the inconsistent play of Shinskie, contributed to a chronic headache for Eagles fans.
Starting at its own 26 midway through the first quarter, the Eagles moved all the way to their own 10-yard line, mainly due to a 27-yard run by standout running back Montel Harris.
On third-and-goal, Shinskie's pass to Chris Pantale was intercepted by Jayron Hosley, who timed his leap perfectly for the drive-ending catch.
"I saw the quarterback looking at the guy coming across on the end zone," Hosley explained. "That was my opportunity to see the play. (Shinskie) threw it up, and I just went and got it."