What a great weekend for college football. We had power teams flexing their muscles for all to see, rivals clashing across the country, a few upsets, and a few let downs; but the game between ACC Coastal Division rivals Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech may have been the most important game of the weekend.
The VT vs. GT game has decided the winner of the Coastal Division for the past seven years (VT-5, GT-2). Although both teams struggled to move the ball consistently throughout the game, each team scored when they needed to giving us a great overtime finish in the ACC.
Virginia Tech scored first on a five yard pass from QB Logan Thomas to TE Eric Thomas. The Hokie’s first scoring drive gave the home crowd something to cheer for midway through the first quarter, but the offense looked skittish from then on. After freshman VT punter A.J. Hughes mishandled a punt leading to a 22-yard loss and setting the Yellow Jackets up deep inside Hokie territory, a game that looked to be in VT’s hands quickly turned into a dog fight as GT ran into the end zone to tie the game.
Tied 7-7 at the half the teams came out and traded body-blows in the third with neither team able to score. GT started the fourth quarter with a field goal, taking the lead 10-7 and you could hear the crowd in Lane Stadium begin to groan. The Hokie offense, led by pre-season All-American QB Logan Thomas, looked out of sync all night. The rebuilt offensive line (4 new starters) couldn’t move the Jackets D enough to gain any yards on the ground while Thomas and his new wide receiver corps missed on the timing routes departed WR’s Danny Coale and Jarret Boykin thrived on last season.
The one big play from the normally explosive Hokie offense came when they needed it most. Speedy freshmen Demitri Knowles raced down the field and caught his first pass as a Hokie, a 42-yard bomb from Thomas, to take the lead 14-10 bringing the crowd back into the game with 7:46 left to play; but the Yellow Jackets would not go away.
In normal Paul Johnson fashion the Jackets offense used up most of the remaining time as they ran the football down the Hokie’s throats. When they needed a big play on 4th and 6 inside Hokie territory, GT QB Tevin Washington scrambled around, bought time, and threw a sideline strike to B.J. Bostic to keep the drive going; then, with 44 seconds left to play the Jackets punched the ball into the end zone on a 10-yard strike from Washington to Deon Hill.
So, with 44 seconds left to play the Hokies had the length of the field to go and all three time outs. Could Logan Thomas step up after struggling most of the night and lead the Hokies to a win or OT? Or would this be another poor start to the season for Virginia Tech?
Thomas had a solid first year as the Hokie’s QB last season, but he struggled in the biggest games (twice in losses to Clemson and in the Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan). What he did leading the Hokies into field goal range to tie the game last night is a great sign for VT fans. And after troubled place kicker Cody Journell booted the 41-yarder to force OT, the Hokies had the momentum back on their side.
The Hokies won the toss and started OT on defense. The GT offense moved the ball at first but the Hokie D rallied and forced a big third down. Washington dropped back to throw but was forced from the pocket. As he was hit he threw the ball (a big no-no), the ball floated high into the air and the VT faithful began to cheer when they saw three Hokies in position to intercept the pass. CB Kyle Fuller (who played outstanding all night) jumped up and snatched the errant pass. The Hokies would only need a field goal to clinch their first win of the season.
After running the ball down to the three yard line, Journell came back onto the field and hit the chip-shot 17-yard field goal for the win. A collective sigh of relief from Hokie nation could be heard in Blacksburg and throughout the Twitterverse. The Hokies beat a quality opponent to start their season. The offense didn’t look great but performed when they were needed, and the defense will only get better as they move forward.
Georgia Tech is now 1-4 against VT under Paul Johnson, they played well enough to win, just didn’t get the breaks. Does this mean the Hokies have a clear path to the ACC title game? Don’t write it in pen just yet. Still, they survived and won a close game. It never comes easy in the ACC.
Up next: Austin Peay @ VT September 8th (ALERT: the last time the Hokies started the season with a Monday night game, 2010 against Boise State (loss), they followed that with five days rest and lost to FBS school JMU. Trap Game Alert!)
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.