Work Samples

Keys gets his kicks at Tech

November 12, 2008

By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission

BLACKSBURG Dustin Keys, step by step, measured his approach and checked his footwork. Whenever Virginia Tech would approach field goal position on Nov. 6 against Maryland, the Stafford resident would practice kicking field goals into a net just to the right of the Hokies bench.

The practice paid off. Keys, a graduate of Brooke Point High, had three field goals against the Terps as Virginia Tech won 23-13 before more than 66,000 fans and a national television audience.

Keys has now made 19 of 22 field goal tries this season as the Hokies prepare to play Nov. 15 at Miami in another Atlantic Coast Conference game. A few days before the Maryland game, Keys was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the top kicker in the nation.

The Stafford product already graduated from Tech and took out a loan to pay for grad school so he could this season, his last year of eligibility at the school. But he was put on scholarship just before this season started and used that money to pay back that loan.

Keys was one of three Stafford products who played well under the bright lights of national TV in Blacksburg. Cordarrow Thompson, a redshirt junior defensive tackle for the Hokies, had four tackles against Maryland all in the f irst quarter.

Thompson, from North Stafford, also recovered a Maryland fumble early in the third quarter and that set up a 30-yard field goal by Keys that gave the hosts a 20-3 lead.

Another local standout in the game was Torrey Smith, a redshirt freshman for Maryland. The Stafford High graduate, who was recruited by Tech, had a solid all-around game as he caught four passes for 62 yards and returned four kickoffs for 101 yards. He also blocked a punt in the third quarter.

But perhaps an even bigger star was Indiana product Darren Evans, a redshirt freshman running back for Tech. He ran for a school-record 253 yards in the win over the Terps.

That is pretty special, said Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who noted all of the star backs who have played in the past for the Hokies.

But Stafford football fans had a reason to be proud of their local players who stepped up before a national audience on a clear, crisp night in the Roanoke Valley. In one sequence in the first quarter Smith caught a pass, Thompson made a tackle on the next play and a few minutes later Keys made a field goal to make the score 17-3.

After the kickoff Smith made another catch before the first half came to an end. The Hokies improved to 15-3 on Thursday nights. Virginia Tech is now 6-3 this season and 3-2 in the ACC.

Maryland, and Smith, have the same record going into a home game Nov. 15 with North Carolina.