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Virginia Tech lands knockout blow early in second half to beat Middle Tennessee
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Virginia Tech lands knockout blow early in second half to beat Middle Tennessee

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BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech pushed past a sluggish first half on Saturday to beat Middle Tennessee 35-14 at Lane Stadium.

The Hokies grabbed the momentum in the third quarter with a six-play, 93-yard drive. Braxton Burmeister threw his longest completion of the season, a 47-yarder to Tre Turner, to set up the score.

Running back Jalen Holston made a nice cutback at the line of scrimmage two plays later to avoid a tackle and go 29 yards for the touchdown.

On Middle Tennessee’s ensuing drive, Jermaine Waller jumped a crossing route for his second interception of the season. Tech running back Raheem Blackshear extended the lead to 28-7 on a 6-yard run with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

It was a nice turnaround for Tech after letting Middle Tennessee gain momentum going into halftime.

The Blue Raiders made it a one possession game on a 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the second quarter. They converted a fourth-and-short at midfield and a third-and-10 to extend the drive.

On the third-down play, quarterback Bailey Hockman hit Jarrin Pierce for a 27-yard gain. Pierce found a seam in the defense thanks to a miscue between Armani Chatman and Brion Murray in coverage. The Hokies had six defensive backs on the field.

Hockman hit CJ Windham for a 5-yard touchdown to cut Tech’s lead to 14-7 with 5:17 to go in the first half. The officials initially ruled it an incompletion but reversed the call with replay showing Windham got his right foot down before going out of bounds.

Virginia Tech got some nice contributions in the first half on special teams — running back Keshawn King returned the opening kick 56 yards and Tayvion Robinson had a 59-yard punt return — but the offense wasn’t nearly as explosive.

Tech’s longest play of the half was a 16-yard gain on the ground from Blackshear, with Middle Tennessee generating consistent pressure and the secondary keeping everything in front of them.

Burmeister was 10 of 17 for 54 yards in the half and had an injury scare when he scrambled for a first down midway through the first quarter. Safety Greg Grate hit the back of his head and neck area as Burmeister fell forward for extra yards.

Grate was initially called for targeting, but it was overruled on review.

Backup quarterback Knox Kadum came in for a brief stretch as Burmeister was cleared to return by trainers.

Texas A&M transfer Connor Blumrick also got in the game early on the goal line. Tech coaches said before the season they were planning on designing a package of plays to take advantage of Blumrick’s size and athleticism. He scored on a 2-yard rush up the middle to give Tech a 14-0 lead in the first half.

Blumrick also came in during the fourth quarter and broke a 33-yard run and Kadum replaced Burmeister with less than nine minutes to go in the game.

Middle Tennessee 0 7 0 7 — 14

Virginia Tech 7 7 14 7 — 35

First Quarter

VT—Robinson 6 pass from Burmeister (Romo kick), :19.

Second Quarter

VT—Blumrick 2 run (Romo kick), 8:55.

MTU—Windham 5 pass from Hockman (Rankin kick), 5:17.

Third Quarter

VT—Holston 29 run (Romo kick), 7:52.

VT—Blackshear 11 run (Romo kick), 3:18.

Fourth Quarter

VT—Blackshear 4 run (Romo kick), 11:18.

MTU—Tinsley 6 pass from Cunningham (Rankin kick), :27.

MTU VT

First downs 23 20

Total Net Yards 351 337

Rushes-yards 36-67 39-204

Passing 284 133

Punt Returns 0-0 2-56

Kickoff Returns 1-16 3-92

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-18

Comp-Att-Int 25-40-1 16-26-0

Sacked-Yards Lost 3-20 1-12

Punts 6-46.167 4-42.5

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 5-37 2-16

Time of Possession 31:24 28:18

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing–MTSU, Rasul 14-41, Mobley 12-24, Diliello 1-12, Pettaway 3-9, Cunningham 1-(minus 1), Peasant 2-(minus 4), Hockman 3-(minus 14). Virginia Tech, Blackshear 9-60, Blumrick 3-35, Holston 5-31, Burmeister 8-25, Kadum 3-17, King 7-14, Thomas 2-11, Turner 1-10, Mitchell 1-1.

Passing–MTSU, Hockman 18-32-1-208, Cunningham 7-8-0-76. Virginia Tech, Burmeister 13-22-0-116, Kadum 3-4-0-17.

Receiving–MTSU, Marshall 7-96, Lane 4-30, Metcalf 3-49, Pierce 3-45, Windham 2-10, Ju.Davis 1-15, Anderson 1-12, Mobley 1-11, Tinsley 1-6, Ja.Davis 1-5, Thompson 1-5. Virginia Tech, Turner 4-67, K.Smith 2-12, T.Robinson 2-9, Mitchell 2-7, L.Smith 1-12, Deiuliis 1-11, (Team) 1-6, Blackshear 1-5, King 1-5, Forburger 1-(minus 1).

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