Host Virginia Tech won the first Atlantic Coast Invitational 7s tournament of the four-stop series in Blacksburg, Va. Saturday. The Hokies beat Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina and NC State en route to the title.
After downing North Carolina 21-10 in the semifinals, Virginia Tech expected to face Davenport in the final. However, NC State, two-time defending Atlantic Coast 7s champs, upended the Panthers, who traveled with a young squad, 24-15, to set up an all-ACRL final.
Virginia Tech has committed a lot of energy to getting better at 7s. They played in a warm-up tournament last weekend at VMI, though they didn’t finish particularly well, and they endured a week-long training camp that consisted of three-a-day trainings. That, plus some support from the home crowd, helped push the Hokies past NC State, 22-5.
“We’ve been working really hard on 7s and the boys just gritted it out,” said VT coach Andy Richards, who turned 50 on Saturday and received a nice present with the tourney win.
“We put a lot of pressure on them and came out with a good win in front of a good crowd. It was a great day.”
“We had a great week of practice and we had been training hard. Coach has had us going. It finally all came together, and to be honest, home crowd actually helped a bunch,” said VT co-captain Paul Caron. “They really push you through when you’re struggling a little bit, and it just feels absolutely phenomenal that all the small things came together and we were able to pull it out.
“I think going through (camp), we’ve all been able to come together and been able to communicate really easily and know where each other are on the field. It was a terribly hard week, but we’re all happy now since we were in shape for that last game, and I believe we outran NC State, which is pretty incredible to say...We’ve really dedicated a good core group of guys to 7s, completely separate from our 15s team, so we’re looking forward to our next couple tournaments."
The ACI 7s series continues Sept. 29-30 in Greensboro, NC.
Virginia 12-24 Davenport
VMI 0-36 NC State 36
Virginia Tech 31-14 Georgia Tech
Maryland 19-14 North Carolina
Virginia 24-0 VMI
NC State 24-15 Davenport
Virginia Tech 29-7 Maryland
North Carolina 28-7 Georgia Tech
Virginia 19-22 NC State
VMI 0-57 Davenport
Maryland 31-12 Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech 21-10 North Carolina
VMI 17-19 Georgia Tech (7th/8th place)
Virginia 5-24 North Carolina (5th/6th place)
Davenport 48-5 Maryland (3rd/4th place)
Virginia Tech 22-5 NC State (1st/2nd place)