Big plays highlight rainy spring game at Tech

Photos courtesy of VT Athletics
A.J. Bush attempts to run away from Tavantee Beckett. Bush is competing with Herndon Hooker and Joshua Jackson for the starting quarterback job.

Hendon Hooker threw a touchdown pass, D.J. Reid scored on a touchdown run and Brandon Facyson recorded an interception to headline the action at Virginia Tech’s annual Spring Game played Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.

The offense faced the defense and outscored the defense 20-18. The offense received points for touchdowns, field goals and extra points, while the defense received points for turnovers (7), three-and-outs (3) and a stop (1). Individual statistics were not kept.

The game marked the conclusion of spring practice.

“I think we put good work in throughout the entire spring,” Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said. “Thinking back and reflecting on our 15 practices, I am really proud of the way our guys continued to battle through the dog days of practicing. We didn’t really have a huge drop off with either one of those practices.

Former Hokie Logan Thomas was in attendance at Saturday’s contest and took time to mingle with the Hokie faithful.

“As far as today, it was about what we expected. I know you guys and gals know that we were down quite a few guys. I think there were about 20 guys that weren’t out there, which leads to it being a little bit abbreviated, as you can understand. We are still trying to figure out where guys fit in.”

Hooker, a freshman from Greensboro, North Carolina who enrolled in January for the spring semester, unofficially completed 10 of 11 for 113 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He completed all eight of his pass attempts in the first half, including five on a drive that led to the offense’s lone first-half touchdown. He ended that drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Keene, another freshman who enrolled in January for the spring semester.

Freshman Caleb Farley tries to outrun the defense during Saturday’s final spring practice. Farley is a converted QB who had been playing in the defensive backfield for most of the spring until he was moved to wide receiver in the past week.

Hooker also guided the offense on its only other scoring drive in the first half. Three completions got the offense to the 41, setting up Joey Slye’s 58-yard attempt right before halftime. Slye nailed it with room to spare as time expired – one of two field goals (he hit a 49-yarder early in the game) for Slye on the day.

“I felt pretty comfortable,” Hooker said. “I felt like the whole quarterback room really prepared me, so shout out to those guys. They were really assisting me and pushing me to be the best I can be.”

“Hendon has done a good job,” Fuente said. “When you talk to him, I think he will say that he has a long way to go continuing to learn what to do and handling situations.”

Reid scored on a 1-yard run in the second half. Terius Wheatley, yet another freshman who enrolled in January for the spring semester, led the Hokies with 32 yards rushing, though most of that came against second- and third-team defenders.

Rain did not keep Hokie fans from packing the stands for Saturday’s Spring game.

Here are some other notes from the Spring Game:

No one expected Fuente to name a starting quarterback following the game – and he didn’t. But he said he liked what he saw from Josh Jackson, A.J. Bush and Hooker this spring, and he liked what he saw from the trio in Tech’s Spring Game. Unofficially, Bush completed 4 of 6 for 70 yards, while Jackson completed 4 of 8 for 67 yards.

“I have been pleased with all of our guys in terms of picking up what we are trying to do,” Fuente said. “That hasn’t been a huge issue for any of them. Continuing to have us be more consistent is the key.”

Hooker’s lone mistake came in the second half. He faked a throw to his left and then turned to his right, expecting Phillip Patterson to be running a slant. Patterson faked the slant and ran the out pattern, but Hooker already had thrown the ball, and Facyson picked it off. Afterward, Fuente confirmed that Patterson ran the right route.

Fans of all ages got a chance for autographs after the finale of the Spring game.

“I knew it was a red flag [a mistake], but the guys on the sideline were on my side and giving me great support,” Hooker said.

Caleb Farley may have been the best player on the field Saturday. Farley, who, like Hooker, Keene and Wheatley, enrolled in January, and he spent part of spring practice at cornerback and part of it at receiver.

In the Spring Game, he played at receiver. He made a nice 15-yard reception over Facyson, ran 16 yards on a reverse, and hauled in a 36-yard reception that set up Reid’s touchdown.

Fuente did not commit to playing Farley at receiver this fall, saying he wanted to discuss the situation with Farley next week during post-spring evaluations.

— Courtesy of VT Athletics

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