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Cheers and Jeers: Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest

By Justin Cates | October 15
Screen Shot 2023 10 15 at 9 40 00 AM
Will Trent/Sons of Saturday
Why is it every Tech-Wake game turns into a complete rock fight? Virginia Tech racked up a ton of yards but scoring was in short supply in the first half. That allowed Wake Forest to hang around deep into the game before the Hokies finally put things comfortably away. There was far too much of emerging star quarterback Kyron Drones and the stifling Tech defense put together an outstanding performance.

In the end, the rock fight was an enjoyable one for Tech fans. There was plenty to be happy about with a big 30-13 homecoming victory over Wake Forest.


Welcome to the Terror Dome

Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. looked every bit like a vintage Hokie defensive stud with four sacks and six total tackles. It was a dominant performance reminiscent of Corey Moore against Clemson — or a number of other opponents — in 1999. APR wasn't the only one who went off. Keonta Jenkins was a menace with 12 total tackles including a sack. As a unit, the Hokies finished with seven sacks and were relentless in attacking both Wake quarterbacks all night. Tech smothered every attempt at a screen pass and tracked down quite a few runs behind the line of scrimmage. This group has really developed an identity and we saw fewer massive lapses on D.

Shout out to Derrick Canteen who got an interception. He has been critical to the defense this season and I shudder to think how Tech's secondary would be faring without him and the flexibility of all the guys back there. Tech has been able to overcome injuries and inexperience by shifting their talented backs as needed. Canteen makes that possible and his coverage has been great recently.

Kyron Drones and the Entire Offense

Kyron Drones' best game to this point in college was a notable one as he joined Hokie royalty with his productivity. Jerod Evans and Bryan Randall are the only other Tech QBs over the last 20 years to pass for at least 300 yards and run for 50 or more in a game. Drones was an incredibly efficient 20 of 29 for 321 yards and two touchdowns plus 59 yards on the ground. He sparked the Hokies to more than seven yards per play with 462 total yards.

He was also generous with the football finding seven different receivers. He may have found a new favorite target too in the incredibly tough and reliable Stephen Gosnell. The North Carolina transfer hauled in six catches for 75 yards and helped convert a number of first downs. Jaylin Lane had just three catches but two timely touchdowns including a crucial 75-yard answer following Wake's only touchdown of the day.

The Hokies used Drones to manufacture a run game when it wasn't happening otherwise. Credit to the Demon Deacons for limiting Bhayshul Tuten to just 30 yards rushing. Malachi Thomas managed 36 himself but most of that came on some long runs to seal the game late In the fourth quarter. Instead, confident passing and powerful runs from Drones set the tone and moved the football.

Oh Brother Where Art Thou? Everywhere!

Jorden McDonald has been an active presence all season, but with the emergence of Jayden Tech has yet another successful brother tandem to add to a long and storied list. Jorden finished with four tackles, including two for loss with a sack while Jayden had three tackles of his own. It prompted Mark Herzlich to remark in an exasperated tone that Tech has a lot of brothers.

The Gosnell's did their thing too as mentioned above. Benji chipped in a nice 20-yard catch that nearly scored and put the ball down near the goal line. The Hokies have a nice young group here to continue one of the longstanding Tech traditions of family and football. It's even better when you consider that the McDonald's are local guys from up the road in Salem while the Gosnells hail from just down the road in Pilot Mountain, NC a little ways past where Frank Beamer grew up.

That's some cool local family stuff on both sides of the ball.


These Guys Are Officially Awful

The officiating crew on the field called just about everything they saw and a number of things they imagined, while the group up in the booth saw fit to review nearly every hit and close spot of the ball. It made an already sloppy game even more disjointed, especially in the first half. To their credit, they did seem to get things right in the end but there were a lot of conferences. It felt like at least a few of those meetings could have been an email.

Another Slow Start

The Hokies and Demon Deacons traded weak punches for the first quarter and things really didn't get going until a wild exchange to end the first half. The Hokies once again struggled to get traction, partly because of the solid Wake Forest defense. They entered the game 39th in total defense and held tough against Clemson just a week ago. They gave Tech trouble for a while until Drones found his rhythm.

It looks like Dave Clawson found a new QB with Michael Kern who passed for 166 yards before getting hurt late. Wake desperately needs some protection for their banged up quarterbacks. I feel bad for those guys.

Final Thoughts

There really wasn't too much to complain about from a Tech perspective outside of that sluggish start. The Hokies took control and dominated their opponent. That's nice to see and somehow despite the continued growing pains of a rebuilding program, the Hokies are 2-1 in ACC play with new and interesting possibilities for the season. I'm not getting too carried away, but the schedule is manageable and really lays out nicely down the stretch. The Hokies have a bye weekend ahead of a Thursday night home game against Syracuse.

Every remaining game will be a challenge, but this team has a chance to really grow and do some cool things. You can see good things happening around the program and if the team can get just a little healthier things could get interesting indeed. But one step at a time. Take any wins and run with them for the time being. The Hokies are now 3-4 with a chance to make some noise. That feels pretty good at this point.


My Dad graduated from Tech in 1981 and I’ve been attending Virginia Tech sporting events since I first moved to Blacksburg in 1988. I myself graduated in 2008 with a Communication degree. During my time as a student I was the Sports Director for WUVT and helped establish and run Planet Blacksburg, an independent student-run news website. I’ve since written for numerous publications including SBNation, Inside The ACC, and Sports Illustrated's AllHokies. Currently, I host The Justin Cates Show in addition to other contributions here at Sons of Saturday and various other sites as the need arises. I now live in a fortified compound in upstate New York with my wife and numerous animals. The smell of popcorn makes me think of Cassell.

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