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‘That had me really hyped’: Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker running with confidence

‘That had me really hyped’: Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker running with confidence

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BC at VT

Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker (right) escapes Boston College linebacker Isaiah McDuffie on Saturday in Blacksburg. Tech won 40-14.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker lowered the boom on safety Mike Palmer midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s 40-14 win over Boston College.

Palmer wrapped Hooker up 2 yards shy of the goal line, but Hooker drove his shoulder into the defender’s chest and bulldozed his way into the end zone.

“I was actually hyped,” Virginia Tech offensive lineman Lecitus Smith said of the play. “We had momentum, we was running the ball down the field, running the ball down the field and then that last run, he kept it, and, you see a lot of quarterbacks, of course it’s the smart thing to do, but you see a lot of quarterbacks get that close, and they step out of bounds or they slide, or whatever the case, but I feel like it shows toughness.”

Hooker ran that way all night as he put up a career-high 164 yards (his previous career-high was 76 yards). It was the most rushing yards for a Virginia Tech quarterback since Michael Vick ran for 210 yards against Boston College back in 2000.

Just three plays before the score, Hooker laid out defensive back Deon Jones with a stiff arm to get inside Boston College’s 20-yard line.

The fourth-year junior capped off his night with a 17-yard touchdown through the middle of the line, and showed off his full skill set on the play. He made Palmer miss again with a nifty spin move before carrying linebacker Max Richardson on his back to get across the goal line.

“I feel like I have more confidence to do it now than I did then,” Hooker said after the game.

Tech coach Justin Fuente was less enthusiastic about Hooker’s aggressive approach since he wants to limit the number of shots opposing defenders get at his quarterback — Hooker missed Tech’s game against Notre Dame last year after suffering a leg injury in a start against North Carolina — but the Hokies won’t be shy about continuing to deploy him in the run game either.

Virginia Tech’s quarterbacks are averaging 17.5 carries per game this season up from the 14.5 carries Hooker averaged in eight starts last year.

“I don’t want him taking big hits,” Fuente said. “He is a weapon running and throwing the football. He did do a good job of escaping out, a guy had a hold of him a time or two then punched the ball inside the end zone down the right side there when the unblocked hat showed there on the 1-yard line and found a way to get it in. Proud of that, he is a big strong kid and has that ability. I don’t want him getting too carried away with it.”

Hooker hasn’t taken many hits in the pocket thanks to a combination of his own elusiveness and solid protection from his offensive line. He’s been sacked twice this season in six quarters (Boston College’s lone sack came in the first quarter on Saturday).

Coming off the career performance, Hooker knows people will be quick to push the dual threat quarterback label on him even more than before, but he’d rather just be considered a playmaker, which is a label his teammates agree with.

“If he’s on the 1, instead of going down or stepping out of bounds, he’s going to run through you,” Smith said. ”So that had me hyped, that had me really hyped.”

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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