NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye hit a 20-yard field goal with 4:21 left and that was the game winner, as the Hokies twice rallied from 17-point deficits to knock off Notre Dame 34-31 on a blustery Saturday evening at historic Notre Dame Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies bounced back from last Saturday’s disappointing loss to Georgia Tech and moved to 8-3 overall on the season. Notre Dame fell to 4-7 overall and all but saw their chances at playing in a bowl game disappear.
“I’m awfully grateful when I think back on all the football games I’ve been a part of in my life,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “The first thought is not throwing a post for a touchdown, or scoring a touchdown, or calling a play that results in a touchdown, or any of those things. It’s always getting a chance to share those things with other people. Having a chance to share with Jen (his wife) was special.
“Virginia Tech is a special place. I don’t mean just a special place to coach football. It’s a special place to be a part of and the pride that people have in Virginia Tech, whether they work at Virginia Tech or live in Blacksburg or went to school there, is palpable. You can see it. Sometimes, you can see it a little bit easier at road football games. It was a great example of that today. Watching the Hokie Nation turn out and watch those kids … I’m telling you, I work them hard now. They work hard. To get that reward is special.”
The Hokies trailed 17-0 and 24-7 in the first half, but rallied in the second half. They cut the lead to 24-21 on their first possession of the second half when Steven Peoples scored on a 2-yard run.
Notre Dame pushed the lead back to 10 when Josh Adams scored on a 67-yard run with 3:49 left in the third quarter. But the Hokies scored the final 13 points of the game.
Tech tied the game at 31 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jerod Evans to Bucky Hodges with 9:13 remaining. After a stop, the Hokies got the ball back and embarked on a 10-play, 51-yard drive that led to Slye’s game-winning field goal.
Notre Dame tried to mount one last drive in the final minute, but Tech’s defense stopped the Irish on fourth down at the Tech 47 on the game’s final play, setting off a wild celebration.
Evans paced the Hokies’ offense, accounting for 334 yards of offense. He completed 22 of 29 for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, and he also rushed for 67 yards and a score.
Notre Dame amassed 435 yards of offense, but Tech’s defense held the Irish to just six first downs in the second half.