Senior Cody Journell’s mid-week dismissal from the program for yet another violation of team rules forced Eric Kristensen into a starting role no one could have envisioned at season’s start.
Kristensen kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime, but his first-quarter miss from 34 yards figured prominently in Tech’s 27-24 loss.
The errant kick, which grazed off the left upright, was the Hokies’ eighth miss from 40 yards or closer this season. Two cost the Hokies dearly -- Journell hooked a 40-yarder late in the fourth quarter of a 13-10 loss to Duke.
Not to saddle Kristensen with any blame. This is on Journell, whose head clearly hasn’t been right all season, witness his erratic kicking and behavior – he was suspended from the Marshall game, and Ethan Keyserling missed three field goals in his absence.
For the season, Tech is 11-for-21 on field goals, its worst kicking since 2002 (12-of-23).
“He was put in a tough situation and he did OK,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said of Kristensen.
Tech’s open date before the Nov. 30 regular season finale at Virginia will give Kristensen time to become accustomed to the role.
Some other nuggets:
* As good as Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was (122 yards and two touchdowns rushing), the best player on the field was Terps defensive end Andre Monroe with nine tackles and three sacks. He had only 14 tackles in nine previous games.
* Tech began the day hoping Miami would beat Duke, but the loss to Maryland turned the table. Duke’s 48-30 smackdown of Miami actually enhanced the Hokies’ chances of sneaking into the ACC championship in a Coastal Division tie.
First, Tech (7-4, 4-3) must defeat Virginia. Then the Hokies need Duke (8-2, 4-2) to lose its finale at North Carolina (5-5, 4-3).
That would deadlock Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke and perhaps Miami at 5-3, if the Hurricanes defeat Virginia and Pittsburgh.
The Hokies would win a five-way based on a 3-1 record against the other four. The Hokies would win a four-way tie with UNC, Georgia Tech and Duke based on a 2-1 record against the other two and head-to-head victory over Georgia Tech (also 2-1 in that pod).
One logjam Virginia Tech would lose: a four-way with Duke, Georgia Tech and Miami. The Blue Devils and Hokies would be 2-1 in that pool, and Duke would advance based on head-to-head.
But the only way that happens is if the Blue Devils lose at Wake Forest and win at Carolina, and Miami topples Virginia and Pitt, a combination that seems far-fetched.
Duke could end the Coastal madness by winning out and heading to the title game at 10-2. The Blue Devils have never won 10 games in a season.
Had Miami (7-3, 3-3) won Saturday, the Hurricanes would have claimed the Coastal with subsequent victories over Virginia and Pitt.
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