BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente wasn’t sure what officials were looking for when they went to replay after Furman recovered an onside kick with 1:46 to go in Saturday's game.
The Hokies briefly thought they would need to come up with one more defensive stop after Hezekiah Grimsley couldn’t field the onside kick attempt at Furman’s 48-yard line. The Paladins made it a one-possession game on their previous possession with a 22-yard field from kicker Grayson Atkins.
Furman's celebration was cut short when officials called for a replay review.
“I don’t really understand, to be honest with you. I don’t know. I didn’t think the ball was going to go 10 yards is what I thought,” Fuente said after the game. “I’ve never seen one kicked like that. Almost like what we called it as kids ‘watermelon style,’ where you just lay it down.”
But the replay officials ended up calling a foul on Furman for an illegal block. They assessed a 5-yard penalty and had the Paladins kick again. Grimsley didn’t let the ball get through his hands a second time.
“They said they blocked our guy before the ball had gone 10 yards,” Fuente said. “I don’t know.”
The kicking team can’t block an opponent until they are eligible to touch the football, which is after the ball travels 10 yards or someone from the receiving team touches the ball.
The penalty was called on Furman linebacker Dae’one Wilkins, who made brief contact with Tech’s Rayshard Ashby. Wilkins didn’t raise up his hands or block Ashby’s path to the ball.
The NCAA 2019 rule block defines blocking as “obstructing an opponent by intentionally contacting him with any part of the blocker’s body.” The only players that got tangled up on the play were Hokies defensive tackle Jarrod Hewitt and linebacker Jordan Willis, but it looked like Hewitt was the one to initiate contact.
The penalty is one of eight plays that replay officials can create a foul when there is no call by an on-field official.
Others include a player making a forward pass beyond the neutral zone, number of players on the field, illegal touching of a forward pass by an eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds and targeting.
A first down run from Virginia Tech receiver Tre Turner let to Tech run out the kick after recovering the kick and close out the 24-17 win.