With his team trailing by double digits at halftime, Fuente morphed from coach into counselor and — certainly in his eyes and those of the Hokies’ fan base — sanity prevailed in the end.
Tré Turner scored second-half touchdowns rushing and receiving, pushing Virginia Tech past upset-minded Furman for a 24-17 victory at Lane Stadium.
The Hokies (2-1) trailed 14-3 after two quarters but scored on their first two possessions of the second half to grab the lead. Turner’s 29-yard touchdown run with 5:04 remaining sealed the win.
“I told the team at halftime, ‘We’re down by 11 points, and we have control over how this goes,’ ” Fuente said. “We can hang our heads and sulk, or we can stand up and can go compete and do our best to rectify what happened in the first half. I don’t know that we wholly rectified it, but we at least found a way to get it done.”
Hokies tailback Keshawn King, making his first collegiate start, rushed for 119 yards. His 54-yard run on the second play of the second half set up a 3-yard touchdown run by James Mitchell that cut the Furman lead to 14-10.
A fumble by Furman’s Devin Wynn on the ensuing possession was costly, with the Hokies converting on Ryan Willis’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Turner with 8:12 left in the third. That score gave Virginia Tech the lead for good.
“We came out third quarter and scored on two straight drives,” Turner said. “We can do that for a whole game as long as we’re consistent and not beating ourselves. The false starts, the turnovers, those things hurt us. That’s why we were down 14-3 at halftime.”
Turner, a receiver, rushed for 68 yards and made four receptions for 29 yards. Willis completed 17 of 21 passes for 123 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
Devin Abrams paced Furman (1-2) with 72 yards rushing on 10 carries.
“I thought our defense kept us in the game,” Paladins coach Clay Hendrix said. “We just couldn’t get enough going on offense.”
Furman: The Paladins entered the day having amassed more than 500 yards of offense in their first two games but besides one 70-yard drive that led to a field goal late in the game did little against the Hokies’ defense. Furman’s two touchdowns came after turnovers gave the Paladins field position in Hokies territory.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies won but didn’t look particularly great again, and turnovers continue to be the problem. They entered the game tied for last among 130 FBS schools in turnover margin, and their two turnovers in the first half led to 14 Furman points. The Hokies have committed eight turnovers in three games this season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Despite leading for much of the first half, Furman lost its 17th consecutive game against a Power Five opponent. The Paladins’ last victory over a Power Five team came in 1999 when they registered a 28-3 victory over North Carolina.
“It’s disappointing,” Hendrix said. “We had all types of chances to win the football game.”
QUOTE TO NOTE
Turner on his 29-yard touchdown run that gave the Hokies a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter: “The funny thing is coach just told me to get the first down. So when I got the first down, all I saw was green grass, and I chose to go get the touchdown because I didn’t want to get tackled. I don’t like getting tackled.”
YOUTH BEING SERVED
Part of Virginia Tech’s issues on offense stem from the Hokies’ youth. Fuente started four true freshmen: King, receiver Tayvion Robinson and offensive linemen Bryan Hudson and Doug Nester. Willis represented the lone senior to start on offense.