Jackson, Peoples lead No. 13 Hokies past ODU, 38-0
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Steven Peoples had scored three career touchdowns for No. 13 Virginia Tech heading into Saturday’s game against Old Dominion.
Now he’s scored six, including a right-place-at-the-right-time deflection that turned his good day into a career day.
On the play, Peoples ran a wheel route and was a few steps behind Hokies start receiver Cam Phillips. Both were well covered, but quarterback Josh Jackson let fly from near midfield as the four players approached the end zone. The ball went to Phillips, but in the scramble with the defender, it bounced away, right into Peoples’ arms for a 43-yard touchdown.
”I sat back and was waiting for Cam to catch it,” Peoples said, noting Phillips’ reputation for catching the ball in traffic. ”As soon as it bounced off him, I caught the ball and I was like, `Man, that was a big-time catch.”’
On the sideline, while teammates celebrated, Jackson got a talking-to from coach Justin Fuente.
”Not for public consumption,” Fuente said what asked what he told the redshirt freshman. ”Not happy. We got lucky on that one so I made sure he knew about it. He’s smart. He’s tough. He understands stuff and he’s still young.”
Said Jackson: ”That was the first touchdown I’ve ever felt bad after throwing.”
Jackson threw for two more scores – a 17-yard screen pass to Peoples and a diving 5-yarder to C.J. Carroll – as the Hokies (4-0) finished their non-conference schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2011. Peoples also scored on a 1-yard run.
Virginia Tech started slowly for the second consecutive game, leading just 3-0 after the first quarter, but scored on four consecutive drives after getting untracked. The Hokies have scored 95 consecutive points since falling behind 17-7 at East Carolina last week.
The Monarchs (2-2), playing an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second week in a row, fell to 0-9 against Power Five schools.
The game was the first meeting between the schools and featured the first career start for 17-year-old Old Dominion quarterback Steven Williams Jr. He showed a nifty ability to escape the Hokies’ pass rush, getting sacked just once, but completed just 8 of 26 for 85 yards. Monarchs receivers didn’t help by dropping several balls, including one that Travis Fulgham could have taken 75 yards for a touchdown.
”He didn’t get a lot of help out there today,” coach Bobby Wilder said after his team barely made it across midfield all game. ”There were four of five times where we needed to make a catch, we needed to make a play, and we didn’t.”
Williams took it in stride.
”It’s just part of the game. We know we need to clean that up,” he said. ”We have to be more aggressive. If we find our run game, we’re going to be fine.”
Jackson was 20 for 30 for 298 yards and has now thrown for 11 touchdowns. He did throw his first interception of the season against the Monarchs, but the Hokies took the ball away three plays later, leading to their first touchdown midway through the second quarter.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs didn’t get pushed around as much up front as they had a week earlier against North Carolina, and they got some good penetration that disrupted Jackson early, but they eventually wore down. They will fare much better against similarly sized competition in Conference USA.
”It got away from us a little bit,” cornerback Brandon Addison said. ”People got tired.”
Virginia Tech: The Hokies started slowly for the second week in a row, and while the results suggest they are just fine once they get rolling offensively, they might do well to try to find their rhythm more quickly going forward when they are playing ACC competition.
Phillips, one of the nation’s leading receivers, had 102 yards by halftime and finished with seven catches for 106 yards. He’s got 34 catches for 523 yards and five touchdowns. He also set a school record by making a reception for the 31st consecutive game.
Old Dominion opens Conference USA play at home against Florida Atlantic.
Virginia Tech remains at home and plays defending national champion and No. 2-ranked Clemson on Saturday night.
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