LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After suffering through arguably the worst game of his career in the Virginia Tech football team’s loss at Wake Forest, Hendon Hooker responded with arguably his best.
Hooker rushed for three touchdowns, and completed 10 of 10 passes for 183 yards to lift the Hokies to a 42-35 victory over Louisville on Saturday in an ACC game played at Cardinals Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 4-2 overall, 4-2 in the ACC. Louisville fell to 2-5, 1-5 in league play.
Behind Hooker, the Hokies jumped all over the Cardinals right from the start, opening a 21-0 lead. Then they scored on four consecutive possessions in the second half, and the Cardinals could never catch up.
“Awfully proud of our guys – congratulations to our players and our staff,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “Great response today. It wasn’t always pretty, but we found a way to get the job done.”
Louisville – missing six defensive linemen for undisclosed reasons – cut Tech’s lead to 42-35 on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Malik Cunningham to Javian Hawkins with a minute left in the game. But the Hokies recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock for the victory.
Tech’s offense put together an impressive performance, amassing 466 yards in the game. Tech rushed for more than 200 yards for the sixth consecutive game, did not turn the ball over, and scored on all five of its red-zone opportunities.
Tech, which scored on seven of 11 possessions the game, started quickly, needing only five plays on its first possession – all runs – to get in the end zone. Hooker’s 6-yard touchdown run, and Brian Johnson’s extra point gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Hooker added two more touchdown runs on back-to-back possessions spanning the first and second quarters. A Devin Taylor interception led to Hooker’s 3-yard scoring run, and early in the second quarter – with the Hokies facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1 – Hooker scored to give the Hokies a 21-point lead.
Louisville scored the final 14 points of the first half to cut the lead to 21-14 at halftime, with the big play coming on a 90-yard run by Javian Hawkins on the final play of the half.
But Tech answered on the first possession of the second half, sparking a dominant second-half performance by the offense. A 63-yard drive ended with Tré Turner scoring on a 1-yard run, and Johnson’s extra point gave Tech a 28-14 lead with 11:15 left in the third quarter.
Herbert rushed for 147 yards on 21 carries for the Hokies, who rushed for 283 yards. Turner caught four passes for 71 yards.
Cunningham paced the Cardinals by throwing for a career-high 350 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted the three times.
- Hooker’s three touchdown runs gave him seven touchdown runs this season and 13 for rushing touchdowns for his career.
- Turner’s rushing touchdown marked his first of the season and the third of his career.
- Turner’s 71 receiving yards were his most this season.
- Herbert now has rushed for at least 100 yards in five of the Hokies’ six games this season.
- Justus Reed had two of the Hokies’ three sacks and now leads the team with 4.5 sacks.
- Taylor and Divine Deablo each intercepted their second passes of the season.
- Chamarri Conner’s interception marked his first of the season.
The Hokies step out of conference next Saturday for their lone nonconference game of the season when they take on Liberty at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon.