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No. 13 Hokies shut down Monarchs

Associated Press • Sep 23, 2017 at 7:18 PM

BLACKSBURG — Steven Peoples had scored three career touchdowns for No. 13 Virginia Tech heading into Saturday’s game against Old Dominion.

Now he’s scored six, including a right-place-at-the-right-time deflection that turned his good day into a career day in the Hokies’ 38-0 win over the Monarchs.

Peoples ran a wheel route and was a few steps behind Hokies start receiver Cam Phillips. Both were well covered, but quarterback Josh Jackson let fly from near midfield as the four players approached the end zone. The ball went to Phillips, but in the scramble with the defender it bounced away, right into Peoples’ arms for a 43-yard touchdown.

“I sat back and was waiting for Cam to catch it,” Peoples said, noting Phillips’ reputation for catching the ball in traffic. “As soon as it bounced off him, I caught the ball and I was like, ‘Man, that was a big-time catch.’ ”

On the sideline, while teammates celebrated, Jackson got a talking-to from coach Justin Fuente.

“Not for public consumption,” Fuente said what asked what he told the redshirt freshman. “Not happy. We got lucky on that one so I made sure he knew about it. He’s smart. He’s tough. He understands stuff and he’s still young.”

Said Jackson: “That was the first touchdown I’ve ever felt bad after throwing.”

Jackson threw for two more scores — a 17-yard screen pass to Peoples and a diving 5-yarder to C.J. Carroll — and the Hokies (4-0) finished their non-conference schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2011. Peoples also scored on a 1-yard run.

Virginia Tech started slowly for the second consecutive game, leading just 3-0 after the first quarter, but scored on four consecutive drives after getting untracked. The Hokies have outscored the opposition 95-0 since falling behind 17-7 at East Carolina last week.

The Monarchs (2-2), playing an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second week in a row, fell to 0-9 against Power Five schools.

The game was the first meeting between the schools and featured the first career start for 17-year-old Old Dominion quarterback Steven Williams Jr. He showed a nifty ability to escape the Hokies’ pass rush, getting sacked just once, but completed just 8 of 26 passes for 85 yards. Monarchs receivers didn’t help by dropping several balls, including one that Travis Fulgham could have taken 75 yards for a touchdown.

“He didn’t get a lot of help out there today,” coach Bobby Wilder said after his team barely made it across midfield all game. “There were four or five times where we needed to make a catch, we needed to make a play, and we didn’t.”

Williams took it in stride.

“It’s just part of the game. We know we need to clean that up,” he said. “We have to be more aggressive. If we find our run game, we’re going to be fine.”

Jackson was 20-for-30 for 298 yards and and three touchdowns, giving him 11 this season. He did throw his first career interception, but the Hokies took back the ball three plays later, leading to their first touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Phillips, one of the nation’s leading receivers, had 102 yards by halftime and finished with seven catches for 106 yards. He’s has 34 receptions for 523 yards and five touchdowns. He also topped the school record by making a reception for the 31st consecutive game.

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