Monday huddle: Red-zone ineptitude dooms Hokies in loss

Virginia Tech's Jalen Holston, left, is tackled by West Virginia's Lance Dixon during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/William Wotring) (William Wotring, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene.

An uphill climb for Virginia Tech against the Mountaineers

There were plenty of reasons why Virginia Tech suffered its first loss of the season, 27-21, on Saturday at West Virginia.

Whether it was coming out of the gate slow and falling behind 24-7, giving up 185 rushing yards to West Virginia or the fact it was the team’s first road game of the year, there were many culprits for the defeat.

But none were as devastating as Virginia Tech’s ability to cash in on opportunities when close to the end zone.

The Hokies had 12 snaps at or inside the West Virginia 10-yard line, and none of those plays yielded a single point.

Social media was certainly not kind to the play calling of Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen, but the Hokies still had the game in their grasp with a first-and-goal at the West Virginia 3-yard line with 2:06 remaining.

However, two runs that resulted in a combined loss of a yard and two incompletions gave the ball back to West Virginia on downs and effectively ended the game.

A career day for Armstrong thwarted by awful defense from Cavaliers

When your starting quarterback throws for a program-record 554 yards, odds are, you are expecting to win.

Even if you don’t win, suffering a 20-point loss certainly doesn’t seem possible, but that’s what happened to Virginia in a 59-39 loss at North Carolina.

Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong continued a strong start to the season by throwing for 554 yards and four touchdowns, but it was all for naught because of some atrocious defense by Virginia.

The Cavaliers surrendered the most points they have against North Carolina since 1936 and were 1 yard away from giving up 700 yards of total offense.

North Carolina rushed for 392 yards on 47 carries for a healthy 8.3 yards a carry.

A big kick by Hopkins -- in more than one way

When Dustin Hopkins converted the game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired in a 30-29 win for the Washington Football Team over the New York Giants, he did more than give Washington its first win of the season.

Hopkins, who had a second chance because Giants’ defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides while Hopkins missed a 48-yard field goal, also kicked in an incentive clause for quarterback Taylor Heinicke, per Field Yates of ESPN.

By playing over 60% of the snaps and Washington winning, Heinicke earned a $125,000 incentive.

No doubt, Heinicke should send a nice holiday gift to not only Hopkins, but Lawrence, as well.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.