Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Brent Pry looks on against the Illinois Fighting Illini during overtime at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Va. Tech close to naming Brent Pry new coach

Virginia Tech is nearing a deal to name Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry as its next head coach, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

An official announcement could come later Tuesday, per the reports.

Pry, 51, has spent the past six seasons as the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator and prior to that, served three seasons in the same position at Vanderbilt and one at Georgia Southern.

Penn State is ranked seventh in scoring defense this season, allowing 16.8 points per game.

Virginia Tech parted ways with coach Justin Fuente on Nov. 16. Fuente’s teams posted a 43-31 mark in six seasons.

Pry served as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech in the mid-1990s in the early days of his 30-year coaching career.

The Hokies finished 6-6 after beating Virginia, 29-24, last week. Defensive line coach J.C. Price will serve as interim coach in their bowl game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) drops to pass against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech chases bowl eligibility against rival Virginia

Virginia looks to snap a three-game losing streak and Virginia Tech takes its final shot at bowl eligibility when the rivals collide in Saturday’s Commonwealth Cup clash in Charlottesville, Va.

Both programs are trending downward as they meet for the 103rd time, with the visiting Hokies (5-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) holding a 59-38-5 lead over the Cavaliers (6-5, 4-3) in a series that began in 1895.

Virginia Tech was ranked No. 15 in mid-September before losing six of its next nine games, a stretch that cost head coach Justin Fuente his job on Nov. 16. The most recent loss in that span came in interim coach J.C. Price’s debut at rainy Miami last week by a 38-26 score.

Virginia, which got off to a 6-2 start this season, still had a chance to win the ACC’s Coastal Division title before taking a 48-38 defeat at Pitt last week. The Cavaliers have surrendered 182 points in their past four games since pitching a 48-0 shutout against Duke on Oct. 16.

The Hokies have won 20 of the past 22 meetings in the series, including a 33-15 victory in the 2020 season finale for both schools last season in Blacksburg, Va.

That left a bitter taste for the Cavaliers during the offseason, said quarterback Brennan Armstrong.

“We knew we had to do more. We knew we had to get better,” said Armstrong, who ranks No. 2 nationally with 404.4 passing yards per game. “It’s just a feeling around the whole place, the facilities, the players, the coaches, when you win that game.”

Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks needs 43 receiving yards to break Herman Moore’s single-season school record of 1,190 yards, set in 1990.

Price is in only his second game as coach, but he is no stranger to the rivalry. He was a four-year starter on the Hokies’ defensive line from 1992-95 and earned All-Big East honors as a senior.

“Our book’s not finished. What’s it going to say?” Price asked his team. “If we can find a way to win … then maybe this team will be remembered as the most resilient, mentally tough team that Virginia Tech’s ever had.”

Virginia Tech went to bowl games for 27 consecutive seasons, the nation’s longest active streak, before opting out amid the pandemic in 2020 with a 5-6 record.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Brashard Smith (12) makes a catch in front of Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Jermaine Waller (2) and defensive back Chamarri Conner (1) before running for a touchdown in the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami tops Virginia Tech to earn bowl eligibility

Tyler Van Dyke passed for 357 yards and three touchdowns as the host Miami Hurricanes became bowl eligible with a 38-26 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies in an ACC game on Saturday night.

In a game that featured rain for much of the night, Miami (6-5, 4-3) also got two rushing touchdowns from Jaylan Knighton.

Van Dyke, a redshirt freshman who had never completed a collegiate pass prior to this year, threw for more than 300 yards for the fifth straight game. He completed 19-of-33 passes, and Charleston Rambo caught seven throws for 116 yards.

Virginia Tech (5-6, 3-4), working for the first time under interim coach J.C. Price, alternated two quarterbacks – Braxton Burmeister and Connor Blumrick — on nearly every play.

Burmeister passed for 109 yards and one TD, and he ran for 52. Blumrick ran for 132 yards and passed for 39 yards and two TDs.

The Hokies, who fired sixth-year coach Justin Fuente on Tuesday, got a spectacular one-handed TD catch from Tre Turner.

Miami scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, racing to a 21-3 lead.

On Miami’s first drive, Van Dyke completed 3-of-3 passes for 56 yards, including a nine-yarder to Will Mallory in the back right-corner of the end zone.

After Tech’s John Parker Romo made a 25-yard field goal, Knighton scored a pair of TDs on runs of one and three yards.

Tech cut its deficit to 21-10 on Turner’s contested one-handed catch in the end zone. The six-yard pass from Burmeister withstood a video review as Turner trapped it against his hip.

But Miami scored 10 seconds later on a 75-yard pass from Van Dyke to Brashard Smith, a true freshman. Smith lined up as a running back, but he ran past the Tech defense, and Van Dyke lofted the ball, hitting him in stride.

Romo made a 36-yarder on Tech’s next possession, cutting Miami’s lead to 28-13 with 3:33 left in the first half.

in the third quarter, Miami’s Zach McCloud sacked Burmeister, forcing a fumble recovered by teammate Marcus Clarke at the Tech 20. After three running plays, Andres Borregales booted a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead to 31-13.

With 6:25 left in the third, Tech scored on Blumrick’s 7-yard TD pass to Kaleb Smith, who snatched the high toss.

Tech then recovered an onside kick and capitalized with Blumrick’s four-yard TD toss to Da’Wain Lofton. After a two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete, Miami led 31-26.

Miami extended its lead to 38-26 on Van Dyke’s 55-yard TD pass to Mike Harley with 10:39 left in the fourth, and that clinched the victory.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz puts his headset on against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech, Miami playing for bowls amid upheaval

The Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Tech Hokies — both with identical 5-5 overall records and 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference marks — will attempt to become bowl-eligible when they meet on Saturday night in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The Hokies will be doing it without coach Justin Fuente, who departed via mutual agreement Tuesday after six seasons. Co-defensive line coach J.C. Price will run the team for the rest of the season.

“It’s bittersweet,” Price said Thursday. “I just want to do my best for these kids. These kids deserve to go out a winner.

“Our story is not written. The book’s not finished. What’s it going to say? We’re going to finish writing it the next two weeks.”

As the Hurricanes play their final home game of the season, coach Manny Diaz is hoping to avoid the fate of athletic director Blake James, who was fired this week. Diaz is focused on improving his 19-15 record at Miami.

“The mission this week is to beat Virginia Tech,” he said. “That’s all we can control. I think because of that mentality, our team has been pretty resilient over the course of the year.”

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, a redshirt freshman with just seven starts to his credit, will try to continue his hot streak on Saturday.

Van Dyke has passed for more than 300 yards in four straight games, throwing 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions in that span. His four TD passes last week were not enough as Miami lost 31-28 to its biggest rival, Florida State.

Leading by five points with less than one minute left, the Hurricanes allowed the Seminoles to convert a fourth-and-14 into a first down with a big pass play.

“That fourth-and-14 will haunt me forever,” Diaz said.

On Saturday, the most intriguing matchup could be Miami’s 16th-ranked passing offense and Virginia Tech’s 15th-ranked pass defense.

The Hokies are coming off a 48-17 win over Duke.

Running back Malachi Thomas got injured during the game, so it remains to be seen whether or how much he plays against Miami. Thomas is Virginia Tech’s second-leading rusher with 382 yards and a 5.0-yard average.

The Hokies’ leading rusher is Raheem Blackshear, who has 542 yards and a 5.4 average. He also leads the team with five rushing touchdowns and 765 scrimmage yards.

Blackshear is the reigning ACC Running Back of the Week. He scored two TDs against Duke, rushing for 117 yards and catching two passes for 40 yards.

Virginia Tech’s biggest advantage on Saturday may be with quarterback Braxton Burmeister. He will face a Miami pass defense that ranks 120th in the nation, allowing 270 yards per game.

Burmeister has completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,710 yards, 12 TDs and four interceptions.

His top two targets are Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson. Turner has 35 catches for 631 yards and two TDs. Robinson has 39 catches for 445 yards and four TDs.

For Miami, Van Dyke is completing 61.6 percent of his passes, and he has 19 TD throws and six interceptions.

Miami’s other big playmakers are running back Jaylan Knighton (724 scrimmage yards and eight TDs in just six games) and wide receiver Charleston Rambo (64 catches, 955 yards and five TDs).

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) hands the ball off to running back Pat Garwo III (24) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jurkovec returns to lead Boston College past Va. Tech

Phil Jurkovec made a surprise return from injury and threw for 112 yards and ran for a touchdown to help Boston College beat Virginia Tech 17-3 on Friday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The junior quarterback sustained a hand injury at Massachusetts on Sept. 11 and underwent surgery on his throwing hand that the team said could sideline him for the rest of the season.

After starting 2-0 with Jurkovec, the Eagles (5-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost four of their next six games and had dropped four straight entering Friday’s contest. Boston College did not name a starting QB during the week before announcing Jurkovec as the starter shortly before the game.

Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3) lost starting quarterback Braxton Burmeister to an injury on the Hokies’ first play of their second drive. Freshman backup Knox Kadum took over for Burmeister and finished 7 of 16 for 73 yards.

Burmeister’s lone pass attempt fell incomplete on third-and-11 on the Hokies’ opening drive. He finished with 15 yards on three carries.

Pat Garwo III rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries for the Eagles, who earned their first win since a 41-34 overtime upset of Missouri on Sept. 25. Boston College avoided its first five-game skid since dropping eight straight to end the 2015 season.

Jurkovec led the Eagles into the end zone on an 8-yard rush with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

Three plays prior, Jurkovec was intercepted by Dorian Strong at the Virginia Tech 5-yard-line, but the Eagles got the ball back right away after Jaelen Gill forced a fumble that Jurkovec recovered at the 13.

Connor Lytton kicked a 33-yard field goal with 6:48 left in the second to put Boston College up 10-0 entering halftime.

Garwo’s 3-yard TD run capped an 11-play, 93-yard drive with 8:48 to go in the third to put the Eagles ahead 17-0. John Parker Romo’s 47-yard field goal with 5:28 in the third put Virginia Tech on the board.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Improving Syracuse takes on middling Virginia Tech in ACC matchup

Syracuse and host Virginia Tech enter Saturday’s ACC contest coming off losses, but the Orange and Hokies likely have different vibes from those defeats.

Syracuse has a feeling that it’s close to a breakthrough.

In the past two weeks, the Orange have suffered a 40-37 overtime loss to then-No. 19 Wake Forest and a 17-14 home loss to Clemson.

Despite being 3-4 for the season and 0-3 in Atlantic Division play, the Orange might be building some confidence.

“It’s exciting and it’s disappointing at the same time based on what happens with the scores,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “But I like this group. I’m not going to trade them in. I’ll keep them. We’ll put them in the oven, and when we get through baking, we’re going to have something that’s really exciting.”

Syracuse is led offensively by the ACC’s top rusher, Sean Tucker, who is 52 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Tucker has rushed for 948 yards and nine touchdowns on 155 attempts (6.1 per-carry average) and has rushed for 100 yards or more in five straight games.

On the other side, Virginia Tech comes in reeling a little more following an uninspiring 28-7 home loss to Pitt last week.

The Hokies struggled with the ball, amassing just 224 yards of total offense.

Quarterback Braxton Burmeister went just 11-of-32 passing for 134 yards as Virginia Tech couldn’t follow up on a solid performance from the week prior in a 32-29 loss to Notre Dame.

Now 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech already is at a crisis point, with some saying that coach Justin Fuente is on the hot seat.

The Hokies are 22-21 in their past 43 games since 2018.

“It’s my responsibility, and it’s my job, to get us as good as we can play, whatever that level is,” Fuente said. “At times this season, we’ve hit that level.”

This will be the first meeting between the teams since 2016, a matchup Syracuse won 31-17.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) runs the ball toward Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Jermaine Waller (2) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Notre Dame scores 11 late points to edge Virginia Tech

Jonathan Doerer made a 48-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining to lift No. 14 Notre Dame to a 32-29 win over host Virginia Tech on Saturday evening in Blacksburg, Va.

Tyler Buchner passed for one touchdown and rushed for another for Notre Dame (5-1). Kyren Williams had one rushing touchdown and one receiving TD for the Fighting Irish.

Raheem Blackshear had one rushing touchdown for Virginia Tech (3-2), which fell to 1-3 in the all-time series. Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister completed 14 of 29 passes for 171 yards and an interception.

Virginia Tech jumped to a 7-0 lead with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter. Blackshear scored on a 7-yard run that marked his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.

The Hokies made it 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 19-yard field goal by John Parker Romo.

Notre Dame cut the deficit to 10-7 on Buchner’s 3-yard rushing touchdown with 6:51 left in the first half. A 46-yard pass from Buchner to Kevin Austin helped set up the score.

Buchner struck again to put the Fighting Irish on top 14-10 with 32 seconds remaining in the first half, completing an 8-yard pass into the end zone to Williams.

Virginia Tech pulled within 14-13 in the waning seconds of the half on a 52-yard field goal by Romo.

The Hokies grabbed a 16-14 lead midway through the third quarter on Romo’s third field goal, this time from 26 yards.

Notre Dame answered later in the third quarter to grab a 21-16 advantage. Williams scored on a 10-yard run that gave him four rushing touchdowns on the season to go along with three receiving touchdowns.

The back-and-forth battle continued as Virginia Tech grabbed a 22-21 lead with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Jermaine Waller picked off a pass from Buchner and sprinted 26 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead defensive touchdown.

Virginia Tech made it 29-21 with 3:55 remaining. Burmeister scored on a 19-yard run to cap off an eight-play, 56-yard drive.

Notre Dame stormed back to tie the game at 29-all with a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 2:26 to go. Avery Davis caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Jack Coan, and Austin hauled in another pass from Coan for the two-point conversion.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister (3) runs out of the pocket during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Irish’s QB situation uncertain ahead of visit to Va. Tech

No. 14 Notre Dame will try to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it visits Virginia Tech on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.

The Fighting Irish (4-1) are coming off a 24-13 defeat against then-No. 7 Cincinnati last week. Notre Dame fell behind 17-0 after committing three first-half turnovers and never recovered.

The loss has left a lingering bad taste for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who benched quarterback Jack Coan and replaced him with backup Drew Pyne in the second half.

“Clearly, we can’t continue down this road of who’s the flavor of the week here,” Kelly said. “We’re going to have to sit down and figure this out.”

The depth chart for Notre Dame listed Coan at No. 1 ahead of Pyne as practice began this week. Kelly avoided specifics when asked about the position, calling it a matter of “who gives you the best chance to win.”

Coan, a senior who spent the previous four seasons at Wisconsin, has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 1,100 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions this year. Pyne, a redshirt freshman who appeared in four games last year, has completed 50 percent of his passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

A tough road test awaits against Virginia Tech (3-1), which is coming off a bye. The Hokies posted a 21-10 win over Richmond in their most recent game, which marked the third time this season that they held their opponent to 14 points or fewer.

Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister completed 17 of 27 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in the win. Tre Turner racked up six catches for 102 yards and a score.

Hokies coach Justin Fuente wants his team to focus on fundamentals coming out of the bye. He praised Notre Dame and said his players must be ready.

“Every inch, every piece of turf is going to be hard fought for,” Fuente said. “Four yards is a big deal, and we’ve got to be emotionally prepared for that kind of game.”

Before allowing 24 points to Cincinnati, the Fighting Irish went back-to-back games in which they allowed only 13 points each time.

As for offense, Notre Dame is averaging 30.8 points per game this season. Virginia Tech is averaging 23.5 points.

Fuente did not hesitate when asked about the strengths of Notre Dame running back Chris Tyree. He has 117 receiving yards and a touchdown, 98 rushing yards and a touchdown, and he flashed his playmaking ability with a 96-yard kick return for a score against Wisconsin earlier this season.

“Speed,” Fuente said. “He can take an 8-yard run and turn it into 80 in the blink of an eye.”

This is the first meeting between the teams since Nov. 2, 2019, when the Notre Dame squeaked out a 21-20 victory. The programs met just twice before that, with the Hokies winning on the road in 2016 and the Irish posting a road victory in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back Jalen Holston (0) runs for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech not taking Richmond lightly in bounce-back game

Virginia Tech aims to bounce back from its first defeat of the season when it hosts Richmond on Saturday at Blacksburg, Va.

The Hokies (2-1) will be facing the Spiders for the first time since 1986. Virginia Tech won on that occasion, but the FCS Spiders (2-1) prevailed 24-14 in 1985 in their most recent visit to Blacksburg.

Hokies coach Justin Fuente asserts his club will not overlook Richmond.

Fuente is a former quarterback at Murray State and assistant coach at Illinois State, so he carries a high amount of respect for the FCS level.

“I spent two years playing and six years coaching at that level,” Fuente told reporters. “I get it, man. You get good players and guys that are together and a good scheme, you have a chance to do some special things.”

Virginia Tech opened the season with home wins over North Carolina and Middle Tennessee before falling 27-21 at West Virginia last Saturday.

The Hokies battled back from a 20-point, third-quarter deficit and had a chance for a go-ahead score. But quarterback Braxton Burmeister’s pass on fourth-and-goal from the West Virginia 3-yard line was incomplete with 45 seconds left, and the Mountaineers ran out the clock.

Burmeister passed for season highs of 223 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Overall, he has thrown for 534 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Cornerback Jermaine Waller is tied for the FBS lead with three picks.

The Spiders began their season with wins against Howard and Lehigh before falling 34-27 at Villanova last Saturday.

Richmond held a 27-13 lead before the Wildcats scored 21 points over the final 5:01 to score the victory.

Aaron Dykes returned a kickoff 98 yards for his third career score, matching the school record held by Erwin Matthews (1986-88).

Quarterback Joe Mancuso passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns against Villanova. Overall, he has 668 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Spiders’ defense is led by linebackers Tyler Dressler and Tristan Wheeler. They share the team tackle lead at 25.

Richmond coach Russ Huesman understands the depth factor when matching up with a big-time program, so he is concerned about special teams.

“In the kicking game, the field expands,” Huesman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “What happens is, all of a sudden any time that you’re kicking the ball, you’re playing 100 yards of field. I can’t run (my defensive starters) down on every kicking unit. I just can’t do it.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2019; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies tight end James Mitchell (82) gets ball from quarterback Ryan Willis (5)  during game against Furman Paladins at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech loses James Mitchell for season

Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell is out for the season with a knee injury.

Mitchell was injured on a goal-line rushing attempt against Middle Tennessee last week. Head coach Justin Fuente said an MRI exam revealed damage to Mitchell’s right knee that calls for season-ending surgery.

On a handoff at the 2-yard line, Mitchell was stopped for no gain and didn’t return to the game. Fuente said Saturday he thought Mitchell would be fine. He has five career rushing touchdowns.

Mitchell considered leaving for the 2021 NFL Draft but opted to return after receiving a middle-round grade.

He had five catches for 42 yards with a touchdown this season and 52 career receptions for 838 yards and seven touchdowns for the Hokies. He also has run for five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media