BLACKSBURG, Va. — This Book was good from start to finish.
At least for fans of Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish played like the sixth ranked team in America in the second half, outscoring the Hokies 28-7 over the final 30 minutes to defeat No. 24 Virginia Tech 45-23 in front of 65,632 spectators on Saturday night at Lane Stadium.
Notre Dame improved to 6-0, with a visit on tap next week from Pittsburgh, while the Hokies dropped to 3-2 (2-0 in the ACC).
Book, who replaced Brandon Wimbush as the Notre Dame quarterback three weeks ago, continued his strong play, completing 25-of-35 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
He wasn’t all. Dexter Williams added a trio of scoring runs, including a 1-yard run to open the scoring in the first quarter, and dashed 97 yards on the Irish’s first possession of the second half for another score. He later answered Virginia Tech’s lone points of the second half with a 31-yard run for the final margin.
Williams finished with 178 yards on just 17 carries for the Irish.
Virginia Tech, which trailed 17-16 at the break, scored once in the second half on a 15-yard pass from Ryan Willis to Eric Kumah. Brian Johnson _ who made three field goals in the opening half from 39, 43 and 22 yards _ missed two long attempts in the final two periods.
Notre Dame’s defense, which lost end Julian Okwara to a targeting call in the second quarter, also made its share of big plays. One play after Willis had avoided a rush with a run for positive yardage late in the second quarter, Willis was hit by Khalid Kareem, causing a fumble that was picked up and returned 42 yards for a touchdown by Julian Love for a 17-9 lead.
It was Love’s third fumble recovery of the season.
Willis led the Hokies down the field, connecting with Damon Hazelton _ one play after Okwara was ejected for targeting on a sack of Willis _ from three yards out to narrow the margin to 17-16 at the break.
Virginia Tech was forced to punt on the first possession of the second half, pinning the Irish at the 5. After Williams was dumped for a 2-yard loss, Williams broke through a huge hole on the left side of the line and dashed untouched 97 yards to the end zone to put the Irish up 24-16.
That was the second longest run from scrimmage in Notre Dame football history, and the longest score from scrimmage in Lane Stadium history.
After Johnson missed a 47-yard field goal attempt on the Hokies next drive, the Irish scored again, with Book getting away from pressure and connecting with a wide open Miles Boykin, who completed the 40-yard touchdown for the 31-16 lead with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
Boykin led Notre Dame with eight catches for 117 yards and two scores.
Notre Dame extended its lead on its first possession of the fourth quarter, following a missed 52-yard field goal attempt with a 5-yard scoring toss from Book to Boykin.
Virginia Tech finally cut into the deficit on the pass from Willis to Kumah, but Williams answered that touchdown with his third rushing score, a 31-yard run to the end zone.
Notre Dame took advantage of one of several inopportune penalties on the Hokies, a facemask call on a sack attempt by Jarrod Hewitt, to score on the opening drive of the game. Book was 7-for-7 on that possession, also picking up a first down with a quarterback sneak on a 4th and 1 from the 2.
Williams followed with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Justin Yoon connected on a 31-yard field goal to give the Irish a 10-0 first quarter lead on the next possession. He also made six extra point conversions to become Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer.
Another penalty cost Virginia Tech a touchdown in the first quarter, when freshman Christian Darrisaw was called for being downfield, nullifying a 49-yard touchdown pass from receiver Hezehiah Grimsley to Sean Savoy.
The Hokies settled for the first of three field goals by Johnson. He made his second on the Hokies’ next drive when Houshun Gaines tackled Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome following a bad snap, but Virginia Tech couldn’t take advantage of good field position.
Galax product Steven Peoples, who led the Hokies with 64 yards on the ground, had a 41-yard second quarter run to the 1, but the Hokies had to settle for another field goal after Willis and Peoples collided in the backfield on a third down play.
Johnson connected from 22 yards to narrow the margin to 10-9, a possession that was set up by an interception from Reggie Floyd.
Love, who had the fumble recovery for the touchdown in the second quarter, added an interception late in the game for the Irish. Te’von Conley and Asmar Bilal each had nine tackles for Notre Dame, while Kareem added 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Willis threw for 309 yards and two scores for the Hokies, and Hazelton led the Hokies with 12 receptions for 131 yards. Virginia Tech out-gained Notre Dame by three yards (441-438).
Defensively, Khalil Ladler paced the Hokies with nine tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.
Notre Dame evened the short-lived series with Virginia Tech, having lost to the Hokies in the first meeting in South Bend in 2016.
The loss put a blemish on the pre-game activities, which included the unveiling of a monument of former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer in the southeast corner of Lane Stadium.
Beamer was honored again at halftime when was announced that the previously unnamed indoor practice facility adjacent to Lane Stadium will now be known as the Beamer-Lawson Indoor Practice Facility.
John Lawson, who was also recognized at halftime, provided a “significant leadership gift” to make the facility become a reality.
Virginia Tech, which played just its second home game of the season due to the cancellation of its scheduled game with East Carolina, will visit North Carolina on Saturday.
Four of the Hokies’ final six games will be played at Lane Stadium.
BC-FBC—T25-Notre Dame-Virginia Tech Stats
No. 6 Notre Dame 45, No. 24 Virginia Tech 23
Notre Dame 10 7 14 14—45
Virginia Tech 3 13 0 7—23
ND—D.Williams 1 run (Yoon kick), 9:24
ND—FG Yoon 31, 6:58
VT—FG Johnson 39, :53
VT—FG Johnson 43, 10:06
VT—FG Johnson 22, 3:21
ND—Love 42 fumble return (Yoon kick), 1:08
VT—Hazelton 3 pass from Willis (Johnson kick), :12
ND—D.Williams 97 run (Yoon kick), 12:03
ND—M.Boykin 40 pass from Book (Yoon kick), 4:59
ND—M.Boykin 5 pass from Book (Yoon kick), 9:12
VT—Kumah 15 pass from Willis (Johnson kick), 5:40
ND—D.Williams 31 run (Yoon kick), 4:50
First downs 19 25
Rushes-yards 32-167 33-132
Passing 271 309
Comp-Att-Int 25-35-1 31-52-1
Return Yards 0 126
Punts-Avg. 3-38.66 4-37.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-19 6-41
Time of Possession 27:18 32:42
RUSHING—Notre Dame, D.Williams 17-178, Wimbush 3-8, Davis 1-5, Flemister 1-0, T.Jones 2-(minus 1), Book 6-(minus 6), (Team) 2-(minus 17). Virginia Tech, S.Peoples 9-64, McClease 6-33, Willis 11-16, Holston 3-9, Grimsley 1-8, Savoy 1-4, Kumah 1-0, Wheatley 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Notre Dame, Book 25-35-1-271. Virginia Tech, Willis 31-52-1-309.
RECEIVING—Notre Dame, M.Boykin 8-117, Mack 6-39, Claypool 4-26, Finke 3-71, Kmet 3-18, Young 1-0. Virginia Tech, Hazelton 12-131, Kumah 4-48, Savoy 4-46, Grimsley 4-37, S.Peoples 3-28, Turner 2-21, Holston 1-2, McClease 1-(minus 4).
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Virginia Tech, Johnson 47, Johnson 52.