Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 27, 2018 at 9:30 pm.

Postseason on the line for the Hokies

Virginia Tech still has a chance to extend the nation’s longest streak of bowl appearances.

The Hokies (5-6) ended a four-game losing streak last week with a thrilling 34-31 overtime win over rival Virginia — their 15th straight triumph over the Cavaliers — which then triggered this week’s matchup against Marshall.

This 12th game — which was available because both teams had games canceled on Sept. 15 due to Hurricane Florence — was only going to be played if Virginia Tech still had a chance to get bowl eligible at 6-6.

It does.

But nobody said it would be easy. Marshall is 8-3 and is 18th nationally in total defense, allowing 324.8 yards per game, although the bulk of that work came against a Conference USA schedule.

“We have plenty of motivation and respect for our opponent, but that is an element of what we’ve got to deal with,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said Monday.

“In our meeting yesterday I said ‘Guys, I gave you yesterday off to enjoy this and pat yourself on the back but it’s going to take the same type of effort and intensity, the same type of emotion and discipline, to extend this other streak. Every moment you spend from here on out in this meeting thinking about or daydreaming about last Friday is wasted time. We have to be able to turn the page to the next game.

“For us to mature as a football team, part of maturing is handling business. We’ve certainly handled a lot of disappointment, now let’s handle some celebration and people patting us on the back and let’s get ready for this next game.”

Virginia Tech was on the ropes last Friday night against Virginia, trailing 31-24 with 2:41 left after the Cavs kicked a 28-yard field goal. But the Hokies responded with a 45-yard pass play on third-and-10 to the Virginia 30, followed two plays later with a crazy touchdown as Hezekiah Grimsley recovered a Steven Peoples fumble in the end zone.

Virginia Tech kicked a field goal on the first possession of overtime, then recovered a fumble on an attempted handoff on Virginia’s second snap.