Virginia Tech Builds Lead Then Holds On To Down Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky.: Hendon Hooker was perfect from the air and ran for three scores to lead Virginia Tech to a 42-35 victory over Louisville Saturday.
The junior quarterback went 10-of-10 for 183 yards passing to supplement a rushing attack that garnered 283 yards for the Hokies (4-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). He contributed 68 of those yards on the ground.
About three hours before kickoff, Louisville (2-5, 1-5) announced nine players would be unavailable for undisclosed reasons. That included leading solo tackler Monty Montgomery, starting free safety Isaiah Hayes and three of the Cardinals top four defensive ends Yaya Diaby, Tabarius Peterson and Dayna Kinnaird.
The Hokies, who entered Saturday with the nations third-best rushing offense, came out rolling. They scored three touchdowns on their first four drives, all on Hooker runs, to build a 21-0 lead with 9:28 left in the first half.
The Cardinals rallied, and a Javian Hawkins 90-yard scoring run to end the half cut the Hokies lead to just 21-14. The run by Hawkins, who finished with 129 yards on 17 carries, was the third-longest run in Louisville history and the longest since 1971.
Virginia Tech would expand the lead on the opening drive of the second half with a Tre Turner 1-yard run capping a 63-yard, seven-play drive. The defense responded by getting a fourth down stop when Chamarri Conner picked off a Malik Cunningham pass at the Hokies 1.
The Hokies Khalil Herbert ran 21 times for 147 yards. His 24-yard TD run with 3:23 left made it 42-28.
Cunningham threw for 350 yards and three scores, one of which was an 82-yard strike to Dez Fitzpatrick, on 23-of-35 passing for Louisville but also threw three interceptions.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies dominated early but some self-inflicted mistakes (1-of-7 on third downs, seven penalties) allowed Louisville to crawl back in a game that seemed headed for a blowout. Still, they responded strong to start the second half to regain control of the game.
Louisville: A defense that had been improving in recent weeks got off to a wobbly start thanks to the late scratches, and a couple of offensive miscues helped put the Cardinals in a hole that was too big to overcome. The big play offense finally got going to the tune of 548 yards, but Louisville could not overcome three crucial turnovers.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies step out of ACC play for the only time in the regular season when they host in-state foe Liberty next Saturday afternoon.
Louisville: Travels to Virginia next Saturday night.
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