Senior quarterback Logan Thomas threw four interceptions as Virginia Tech struggled through much of the game Saturday and were upset by Duke, 13-10. The Hokies were held scoreless until the 0:11 mark in the third quarter despite gaining 387 yards of total offense.
"Well, I think every week is different," head coach Frank Beamer said. "Every week is a grind and we just didn't come out on the winning side tonight. Duke just came out here and beat us."
Thomas finished 21 of 38 for 214 yards and four interceptions, although he did add a touchdown on the ground. Combined, Thomas and Duke quarterback Anthony Boone threw eight interceptions. Thomas' four interceptions were the most in one game since 2001.
Freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller picked off Boone three times on Saturday, the most in a game since Jayron Hosley intercepted Russell Wilson three times at NC State in 2010.
"He plays like a wily veteran," linebacker Jack Tyler said of Fuller. "He's good. He's really good."
Virginia Tech got the ball on its own 44 yard line with 5:09 to go, but Thomas' fourth interception of the day ended the final offensive chance for the Hokies.
VT had a chance to get the ball back with 3:12 left in the game, but a missed tackle in the backfield allowed Duke backup QB and running specialist Brandon Connette to pick up the decisive first down.
"We just got to make the plays when they present themselves," Thomas said.
It took Virginia Tech 44:49 to get on the board, but Thomas' five-yard quarterback keeper in the third quarter kept the Hokies from being shutout for the first time since 1995. A funky punt call on Duke's drive right before the score placed the ball at the Hokies own one-yard line, but Thomas responded with a 56-yard completion to Demitri Knowles to start the scoring drive.
After forcing the Blue Devils backward on the next possession, the Hokies took over and moved the ball 31 yards into field goal range for kicker Cody Journell. Journell's 41-yard field goal attempt was good, and the Hokies were down 13-10 with 9:23 left in the game.
After Fuller's third interception of the day, the Hokies set up Journell for a potentially game tying field goal, only to have his 40 yard field goal sail wide left.
Journell was one for three on the day. "I don't lose faith in him," Thomas said. "We're a close knit group and we have each other's backs."
Duke shut out the Virginia Tech offense in the first half despite surrendering 179 total yards. The last time the Hokies went scoreless in the first half was the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2012 against Rutgers. Thomas threw two picks in the first half, including one that halted a 16-play, 68-yard drive at the seven yard line.
VT gained just 42 yards on its first five drives of the game before gaining 123 yards on the final two possessions of the half. Unfortunately, Thomas' pick and a missed Journell field goal kept the Hokies off the board in the first half.
"Well we didn't do our most important job," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "We didn't take care of the football. Four turnovers and a touchdown called back. A combination of a lot of things, but anytime you don't take care of the football, you won't win the game."
Fortunately for the Hokies, Bud Foster's defense surrendered just two field goals during the opening 30 minutes of play. Duke kicker Ross Martin connected on a 51-yarder and a 53-yarder to provide the points. Boone threw three interceptions himself and the Hokies went to the locker room down 6-0.
They didn't come out of the locker room any better, as they gained 37 yards on 10 plays before turning it over on downs on the opening series of the second half.
The Blue Devils immediately took the ball and - aided by two pass interference penalties - scored on a six play, 63-yard drive that was capped off by a nine yard TD rush by Boone. With time winding down in the third quarter, the Hokies began their move back into the game with the long completion to Knowles.
Defensively on the day, the Hokies held the Blue Devils to just 198 yards of total offense. Duke didn't complete a pass in the second half and they didn't convert a third down all game.
They were missing cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Brandon Facyson - who missed the game with an injury - as well as defensive end J.R. Collins and backup linebacker Deon Clarke, who were both suspended for a violation of team rules.
Thomas led the Hokies in rushing with 101 yards on 24 carries.
"Well, that was kind of our best play. He's a load running the football and he's tough, so that's what it go to."
Virginia Tech returns to action next week at Boston College. Kickoff is set for noon.
"We have everything that we want in front of us," Tyler said. "We can still go to the ACC Championship. We can still achieve those goals."