BLACKSBURG — This week’s quarterback decision was an easy one for Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente.

Tech starting quarterback Hendon Hooker rejoined the lineup after missing last week’s 21-20 loss to Notre Dame with a left leg injury. Leading up to the trip to South Bend, Hooker practiced and made significant progress, but Fuente decided it was in his “best interests” to rest one more week.

When Hooker stepped onto the practice field to start preparing for Wake Forest, Fuente knew who would start against the Demon Deacons.

“He looked great from the start of the week,” Fuente said. “That’s why it was hard last week. It wasn’t a deal where by Wednesday we were trying to figure it out. On Sunday, I felt good about it. And that’s indicative of how close it was the week before.”

That translated to the field on Saturday with Hooker putting up more than 300 total yards of offense and rushing for a touchdown as Tech upended No. 19 Wake Forest in a 36-17 win.

Tech really heated in the second half, but the Hokies rarely had trouble moving the ball. They came out of the gate with two lengthy possessions — 19 plays, 9:32 and 13 plays, 7:02 — but settled for field goals on both of them. Hooker, who fumbled and dropped a snap in two separate trips to red zone in the first half, told his teammates he was to blame for the lack of points at halftime and left them with some simple words of encouragement.

“You guys got my back, I got your back, and let’s make it happen,” Hooker said.

Tech did just that outscoring Wake Forest 30-7 in the second half. On the opening possession of the third quarter, Hooker accounted for all but two yards of the team’s offense. He hit Tre Turner for a 17-yard gain with a nice throw at the sideline and had three carries for 27 yards.

Hooker made a series of nice throws on a scoring drive early in the fourth quarter including a pair of first down completions to Damon Hazelton. He capped off his night with a 7-yard touchdown run.

The quarterback’s mere presence in the backfield has turned a stagnant Tech running game around. Tech has rushed for more 220 yards in three of the last four games. The Hokies have only done that one other time in Fuente’s tenure (at the start of the 2017 season). Hooker had 15 carries for 69 yards on Saturday.

“We certainly don’t want Hendon to carry the ball 30 times a game, but having a guy that can carry the ball a little bit too adds to the dimension to help the rushing attack,” Fuente said.

While Hooker is quick to pass the credit to an offensive line that he said “dominated the line of scrimmage” and skill players making “big plays”, his teammates were happy to put his contributions in the spotlight.

“I would say the one reason why we all start clicking whenever Hendon’s rolling is because Hendon got a swagger to him that not a lot of people have,” Virginia Tech wide receiver Tre Turner said. “He’s communicating with everybody - o-line, wideouts, running backs, tight ends. We are all comfortable with him when he’s in a groove.”

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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