Redskins

Va. Tech ends tough season with Russell Bowl win

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Va. Tech ends tough season with Russell Bowl win

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was candid this week in acknowledging that a lackluster 6-6 regular season was not the standard that the Hokies had grown accustomed to.

It took one of their best finishes of the season, but no matter what people remember about this year's team, they will be recalled as winners.

Cody Journell kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime to help the Hokies beat Rutgers 13-10 in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday night.

The victory helped the Hokies avoid their first losing season since 1992 - an accomplishment that will definitely give them a boost going into an offseason that could include some changes in the coaching staff.

``It's kind of like nothing comes easy for us,'' Beamer said. ``It is work, but we got a bunch of guys that will hang out, and we're not always ready, but we kind of hang on and keep working at it. ... We could have shut it down, and these guys never did.''

He avoided any questions about possible staff shake-ups that may be coming in the coming weeks.

``We are going to enjoy this win,'' he said. ``These guys worked hard for this win tonight. It wasn't easy. We are going to enjoy this win and talk about our game with Rutgers.''

Rutgers (9-4) had a chance to tie it in overtime, but Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt to the right.

The loss ended a run of five straight bowl victories for the Scarlet Knights and kept them from recording their first double-digit win season since 2006.

The win also was the Hokies' 12th straight victory over their former Big East Conference rival.

Virginia Tech trailed 10-0 at the half, then rallied in the final 30 minutes thanks to some timely turnovers and offense. Quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in the first half and finished with a pair of interceptions, but also had 192 yards passing and the game's only passing touchdown.

``I can't commend the defense more,'' Thomas said. ``The entire season that's kind of how it's been. I have to give a shout out to (linebacker) Bruce Taylor because he played his tail off the entire game. It felt like he was in the backfield making a tackle on every play.''

Taylor finished the night with a team-high 11 tackles to lead a defense that held Rutgers to 67 yards in the second half.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum, selected the most valuable player of the game, picked off Gary Nova's pass early in the fourth quarter to set up the tying score.

He said though the offense took its lumps early, he was never down on their effort.

``That's just the way the game panned out,'' Exum said. ``We never lose hope with the guys on the other side of the ball. Our job, honestly, is just to go out there and get as many three-and-outs as possible and give the most opportunities as we can to put points on the board.

``We did a good job of that tonight.''

Rutgers seemed to be in command until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, when turnovers and a sudden surge from the Hokies' offense quickly turned the momentum.

Down 10-0, Virginia Tech took over after Rutgers missed a field goal and moved into Scarlet Knights' territory for the first time in the game on a 32-yard pass from Thomas to Dyrell Roberts.

Thomas then found Corey Fuller for a 25-yard strike on the next play, before the drive stalled on the 8. It forced the Hokies to settle for Journell's 25-yard field goal.

Exum intercepted Nova's pass on the ensuing drive, giving the Hokies a first down on the Rutgers 21.

The Hokies found the end zone three plays later on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Fuller with 10:56 left as steady rain began to fall.

``We finally caught them off balance,'' Thomas said. ``We finally got them uncomfortable. ... I just had to put the ball out there for him.''

Virginia Tech defensive end Tyrel Wilson then came up with the defense's second turnover of the night, recovering a fumble inside the Scarlet Knights 40 after Nova dropped a snap while lined up in the shotgun.

An intentional grounding penalty on Thomas forced a punt, though, with less than 7 minutes to play.

They got another chance a few series later, only to see Journell's 51-yard field goal come up short with 2:20 showing on the clock.

Rutgers punted, but got it back just a play later when Thomas' pass was intercepted by Brandon Jones.

``Two tremendous defensive performances, and one of the better defensive performances I've seen from Rutgers players this season,'' Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. ``It's unfortunate that we came out on the wrong side of the game, and squander that kind of performance as a result.''

It was defense on both sides that controlled the action in the first half as Rutgers took a 10-0 halftime lead.

The Scarlet Knights were the most effective offensively, managing a modest seven first downs and a field goal. But the Scarlet Knights came up empty on their best drive of the half, failing to convert on a fourth-down pass play inside the Hokies 35.

Virginia Tech struggled throughout, though, tallying only 73 yards total in the first two quarters. Thomas was also sacked twice and intercepted late in the half, which severely hampered an offense that never made it into Rutgers' territory.

Penalties also bent in Rutgers' favor. Virginia Tech was penalized eight times for 60 yards. The Scarlet Knights weren't whistled for any penalties in the half.

A miscue by Virginia Tech on the opening drive of the game produced the game's first score.

Hokies center Caleb Farris sent his second snap of the night sailing past Thomas and into the end zone.

Thomas scrambled back to pick it up, and tried to run it out, but he was instantly swarmed and lost the ball as he was tackled. It was eventually recovered by Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene for the touchdown.

Beamer said the challenge now is to not let any shortcomings from this season cloud the offseason.

``I couldn't be more proud of this team,'' he said. ``We've won some more games in other years, but I think this group is special.

He said he won't have any negative feelings when he looks back on this season.

``Not everything in life is real smooth,'' Beamer said. ``These players worked hard and how they reacted to adversity and to disappointment and when all of them wanted to do better - they kept together.''

NOTES: The game was the lowest scoring the bowl's history. It surpassed Stanford's 24-3 win over Penn State in 1993. ...The game also set a bowl record with 20 punts, passing the previous record of 19 in the 1991 matchup between Alabama and Colorado.

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

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Derrius Guice out for Week 15 vs. Eagles as he awaits MRI results

Derrius Guice out for Week 15 vs. Eagles as he awaits MRI results

The injuries just keep coming for Derrius Guice.

The second-year running back will miss the Redskins Week 15 contest against Philadelphia after suffering a left knee injury against Green Bay, interim head coach Bill Callahan announced on Monday. The injury is on the same knee that Guice tore his ACL in just a year ago that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season.

The severity of the injury is still unclear. Guice underwent an MRI on his knee earlier on Monday. The team is still waiting for the results.

Guice missed eight weeks earlier this season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee during the Redskins Week 1 loss in Philadelphia. He was placed on injured reserve and returned in Week 11.

Entering Sunday's contest, Guice was coming off the best game of his young career. In Week 13, the second-year veteran ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries in the Redskins' victory over Carolina.

Guice seemed on his way to another big game in Green Bay before getting hurt. He finished with 42 yards on just five carries, including a 23-yard run, the play he suffered the injury on.

The LSU product has shown flashes of how good he can be, but injuries keep occurring for Guice. He's played in five NFL games in his two-year career and been forced to leave the game early in three of those.

Whether the injuries are just a series of bad luck or not, the Redskins need Guice to stay healthy.

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    Davey Martinez is unfazed by entering the third - and perhaps final - year of his contract

    Davey Martinez is unfazed by entering the third - and perhaps final - year of his contract

    SAN DIEGO -- Davey Martinez has been busy. His rural retreat, usually well-used by this stage of the offseason, has sat empty. He spent time with his kids in Tampa in between declining appearance requests. He tried to get his life back in order for the last five weeks. Time to himself has not been part of the process. Nor has anything but positive feelings.

    “It’s been awesome,” Martinez said. “Really has. Something that I wake up in the morning and think about everything that transpired and how we got to where we got to and the final moment... That, to me, never gets old.”

    Relaxed in a dress shirt and sport coat, Martinez started Monday with interviews by the reporters pool at the Winter Meetings. Two of his former players -- Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon -- are among the prime focuses of the event. Future contracts are what the meetings become about. Martinez is now included in that topic.

    He’s entering the third, and final, year of his three-year deal. The Nationals hold an option for a fourth year. Martinez said he is not thinking about it.

    “No,” Martinez said. “I really haven’t. For me, I feel blessed I got an opportunity to do what I do. I know I’m coming back. Now, I’m just getting some time off and getting ready for spring training.”

    Martinez entering his third year is notable. Managers of the Nationals rarely make it there. Manny Acta started a third season as manager. Davey Johnson handled two-plus seasons as manager. No one has made it through three full seasons since baseball returned to the District. And, who would have thought Martinez would?

    Year One was a mess. The Nationals missed the playoffs, Martinez appeared off-kilter at times, and injuries doomed the season as much as under-performance. A mere 82 wins followed, the fewest since 2011. 

    The pressure was high before the failed season. Washington’s ownership chose Martinez specifically over bringing back Dusty Baker. Why? Because advancing to the first round was not enough. Only the World Series was acceptable. Martinez, with vast major-league life experience and zero managerial experience, was charged with guiding the team to a spot its owners and payroll expected. The team barely won more than it lost.

    Then May of 2019 hit. The 19-31 nadir following multiple embarrassments in New York, against the Mets of all teams, pushed Martinez’s employment status toward the edge. He said then it wasn’t on his mind, though at the time he was unsure how to fix expansive bullpen problems. Managing principal owner Mark Lerner said during the postseason he never considered firing Martinez. Both are difficult to believe as 100% truths. 

    As the team turned, so did the view of Martinez. The postseason performed as a breakthrough for both. Washington finally made it out of the first round of the postseason. Martinez’s decision-making worked and worked again, all the way through Game 7 of the World Series. By the end, narratives flipped. The team which couldn’t play well when it mattered most completed a comeback-filled championship run. The manager so many wanted to push out, became a man of the people, drifting into the streets during the championship parade.

    Another year is coming. Davey Martinez remains the manager of the Washington Nationals. He’s into his third year and, barring disaster, appears set to make it to the end, which would be more history for the organization.

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