HOK­IES

Daily Press - - Sports - David Teel, 757-247-4636, dteel@dai­ly­press.com, Twit­ter @DavidTee­latDP.

“At times, we look re­ally, re­ally good,” Cor­nelsen said this week. “At times, we are just not do­ing some sim­ple things (cor­rectly).”

Case in point, last week's 31-21 loss to Bos­ton Col­lege.

The Hok­ies led the Ea­gles 14-7 at half­time as Wil­lis com­pleted 16 of 19 passes for 212 yards and two touch­downs. It was, Cor­nelsen said, Wil­lis' finest half since re­plac­ing in­jured starter Josh Jack­son (bro­ken leg).

But the Hok­ies squan­dered two chances late in the sec­ond quar­ter to ex­tend their lead.

A sense­less per­sonal foul by tight end Chris Cun­ning­ham and false start on guard Lecitus Smith doomed a drive deep in BC ter­ri­tory that even­tu­ally ended when Wil­lis missed an open Eric Kumah on fourt­hand-6. Head coach Justin Fuente said this week on his ra­dio show that Smith's penalty was “to­tally my fault,” blam­ing poor side­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Wil­lis.

With Tech back in Bos­ton Col­lege ter­ri­tory min­utes later, and Wil­lis mo­men­tar­ily side­lined af­ter a jar­ring hit, cen­ter Zachariah Hoyt blazed a shot­gun snap past backup quar­ter­back Hen­don Hooker. Zach Allen re­cov­ered the loose ball for the Ea­gles.

Which brings us to the fate­ful third quar­ter, when Tech went three-and-out on three con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions, net­ting 7 yards in the process.

The sec­ond of those se­ries, on which Bos­ton Col­lege stuffed Deshawn McClease rushes on first and sec­ond down, was the most baf­fling. Even with the Ea­gles ad­just­ing to bet­ter de­fend Wil­lis' pass­ing, the back-to-back runs were too con­ser­va­tive.

But oth­er­wise, Cor­nelsen didn't aban­don the throw game. In­deed, the Hok­ies' first play of the quar­ter was a slant pat­tern to Da­mon Hazel­ton — Allen bat­ted down the pass — and two pos­ses­sions later, Wil­lis, pres­sured by Wy­att Ray, missed an open Tre Turner on a post route.

The most crip­pling se­quence came af­ter Bos­ton Col­lege tied the game at 14. On a sec­ond down from Tech's 11-yard line, Hazel­ton bob­bled a rou­tine throw, which Bran­don Se­bas­tian in­ter­cepted to set up the Ea­gles' go-ahead touch­down.

Dur­ing his postgame news con­fer­ence, Fuente lamented such lapses in ex­e­cu­tion, stress­ing that “the coaches' job is to teach the play­ers to ex­e­cute.” Ab­so­lutely.

The Hok­ies had one other chance to shed their third-quar­ter funk af­ter lineback­ers Dax Hol­li­field and Rico Kear­ney stopped Bos­ton Col­lege quar­ter­back Anthony Brown on a fourth-and-1 sneak from the Ea­gles' 41. Here Cor­nelsen wisely and ag­gres­sively called for a deep, play-ac­tion pass that could have pro­duced a ty­ing touch­down.

Hazel­ton in the slot against line­backer Isa­iah McDuffie was a fa­vor­able matchup — credit Cor­nelsen — and the pass pro­tec­tion was per­fect. McDuffie fell a step be­hind Hazel­ton and ap­peared to grab the back of Hazel­ton's jer­sey, but there was no flag, and Wil­lis' pass was just over­thrown.

Later on the drive, Kumah broke open on a slant, but Wil­lis' pass glanced off his fin­ger­tips. Brian John­son's missed 46-yard field goal ended the se­ries.

Early in the fourth quar­ter, Taj Amir-Tor­res broke up a fourt­hand-2 pass to Hezekiah Grim­s­ley, cre­at­ing a short field for the Ea­gles, who then marched 49 yards to a touch­down and 28-14 lead.

The Bos­ton Col­lege break­downs were as glar­ing as those nine days ear­lier ver­sus Ge­or­gia Tech. The Hok­ies scored touch­downs on their first three drives against the Yel­low Jack­ets, each of at least 70 yards, only to gain 37 yards com­bined on their next five pos­ses­sions.

“It's been just in­con­sis­tency,” Cor­nelsen said.

The in­con­sis­ten­cies are teamwide, and they need at least par­tial re­solv­ing ASAP. The Hok­ies re­main two wins shy of ex­tend­ing their bowl streak to 26 years, and a loss Satur­day elim­i­nates them from Coastal Di­vi­sion con­tention. Still, Fuente re­sists any talk of frus­tra­tion.

“It's not our job to be frus­trated,” he said.

“It's our job to try to fix, coach and men­tor.”

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