inside.hokiesports.com 17 Kitty Newton Photo KitKatNewt1@gmail.com “The Farmhouse... Eating Great Food here for over 30 Years.” – Coach Frank Beamer thefarmhousechristiansburg.com 285 Ridinger Street, Christiansburg, VA 24073 • (540) 251-7600 Prime Rib • Steaks • Seafood • Outdoor Courtyard • Private Dining • Weekend Brunch a pass to Tayvion Robinson ultimately turned into a Hooker fumble that Kentucky’s Jordan Wright returned for a touchdown to account for the final margin. Though it gave up 331 yards rushing—including 233 to Bowden—Tech’s defense wasn’t the sole reason the Hokies lost the game. Tech’s offense deserved some of the blame, too, as the Hokies converted two second-half Kentucky turnovers into just three points. Tech took a 30-24 lead on a 27-yard field goal by Brian Johnson with 12:47 remaining. On the next possession, Brion Murray intercepted a Bowden pass, giving the Hokies the ball at the Tech 29. But Tech’s offense went three-and-out and punted for just the second time in the game, setting up Kentucky’s game-winning drive. “Acoupleoftimes,itwasonme,”Hookersaid.“Justmiscommunication with the receivers.” The outcome spoiled a nice game by Hooker, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. It also ruined a career game from tailback Deshawn McClease, who rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown. Most disappointingly, though, it ruined the ending for Foster, who now moves into retirement after 33 seasons on Tech’s coaching staff, including the past 23 as the defensive coordinator. “Would we like to have finished a little better? Yeah, but we lost some really tight football games this year, with the exception of one football game (Duke), and that makes a statement about the direction we’re going,” Foster said. “It kind of reminds me of that 1998 group [that went 8-3, with three close games]. I’m not going to put the pressure on them and say they’re going to go play for the national championship, but it reminds me of that group of how close and competitive and what gut- wrenching losses we lost that year. “That was such a learning experience and growing experience, and you know you don’t want to get back in that situation. The only way to do that is to out-work and out-prepare and have a big-time offseason. And you’re every-day approach needs to be to push yourself to be the best. I think that is what this group is moving toward, and I’m excited about that.” BELK BOWL GAME NOTES • McClease now has rushed for at least 100 yards in three consecutive bowl games (126 vs. Kentucky, 102 vs. Cincinnati in the 2018 Military Bowl, and 124 vs. Oklahoma State in the 2017 Camping World Bowl). • Brian Johnson’s 54-yard field goal in the first quarter was the longest field goal of his career and the longest ever by a Tech kicker in a bowl game. • Johnson’s three field goals were the second-most ever by a Tech kicker in a bowl game (four by Justin Myer in 2012 Sugar Bowl and by Joey Slye in the 2014 Military Bowl). • Hooker’s two touchdown passes were his 12th and 13th of the season. He finished with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. • Hooker threw at least two touchdown passes in four of his eight starts this season (Miami, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh and Kentucky). • Damon Hazelton’s 18-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his eighth touchdown reception of the season and the 20th of his career (16 at Tech). • Hazelton hauled in at least one touchdown reception in six of the Hokies’ 13 games this season. • Dalton Keene’s 6-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his fifth touchdown reception of the season and the eighth of his career. • Ashby and Alan Tisdale each finished with 14 tackles in the Belk Bowl – one shy of the Tech record for tackles in a bowl game (15 by Ashley Lee in the 1981 Peach Bowl and also by Vince Daniels in the 1984 Independence Bowl).