Drones handles the rain, leads Virginia Tech to 41-20 win over No. 23 Tulane in the Military Bowl

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — As long as he could hold onto the ball and keep his footing on a slippery day, Kyron Drones found plenty of room to run.

Drones rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown and also threw for two TDs as Virginia Tech withstood a second-half downpour to beat No. 23 Tulane 41-20 in the Military Bowl on Wednesday.

Drones fumbled three times in the wet weather, but the Hokies (7-6) only lost one of them. The sophomore quarterback passed for just 91 yards, but he and Bhayshul Tuten were tough to stop on the ground.

“It was tough conditions. You can’t really simulate it like that,” Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry said. “They had the same weather we did. Both teams had to deal with it.”

Tuten finished with 136 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries to help Virginia Tech snap a four-game losing streak in bowls.

“Any time we’ve had success this year, really, we’ve been able to run the ball,” Pry said. “That’s who we need to be. That’s who we want to be.”

Tulane (11-3) was without star quarterback Michael Pratt. Both Kai Horton and Justin Ibieta played in his place, but Ibieta was carted off in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. Makhi Hughes rushed for 88 yards.

An unforced fumble by Drones gave the Green Wave an early lead when Tyler Grubbs scooped up the ball and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.

“It was the first drive of the game and we still had a long way to go,” Drones said. “It was a next-play mentality.”

After a muffed punt gave Virginia Tech the ball at the Tulane 11, Drones ran for a TD on the first play to put the Hokies up 10-7.

Drones also lost the ball on that run, but he was ruled to have reached the end zone first.

Tulane had first-and-goal from the 1 when Horton was hit by Pheldarius Payne as he tried to hand off. The Hokies recovered that fumble to stave off a great scoring opportunity.

Virginia Tech took a 17-10 lead on Drones’ 1-yard scoring pass to Harrison Saint Germain with 8 seconds left in the half.

Then the rain really seemed to pick up.

Jaylin Lane lost a fumble in the first minute of the second half, and Tulane took advantage of that short field, tying the game on a 6-yard scramble by Horton. But Drones broke loose for a 51-yard gain on the next drive, and Tuten’s 9-yard scoring run put the Hokies up 24-17.

“We’ve been strong against the run all year. I think when you add the quarterback into it, that gives it a little bit different element,” said Slade Nagle, who was Tulane’s interim coach after Willie Fritz left to take the job at Houston earlier this month. “He’s a dynamic player that had a huge impact on the game.”

Drones threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Benji Gosnell early in the fourth, and after Tulane lost its third fumble of the day, Tuten scored on a 12-yard run to make it 41-20.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia Tech: The Hokies lost three straight in September against Purdue, Rutgers and Marshall, but they did a nice job rallying for a winning season. Virginia Tech appears headed in a positive direction under Pry.

Tulane: The Green Wave have won 23 games over the past two seasons, but Nagle had a tough task in this bowl.

RANKED WIN

This was the first victory over a Top-25 opponent in four tries for Virginia Tech under Pry.

“This was the type of win we couldn’t find during the regular season,” he said.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are scheduled to open next season at Vanderbilt on Aug. 31.

Tulane: New coach Jon Sumrall now takes over the program as the Green Wave try to build on their success these past couple seasons.

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Drones handles the rain, leads Virginia Tech to 41-20 win over No. 23 Tulane in the Military Bowl

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