Atlanta, GA -- Down 20-12 and hanging by a thread, Virginia Tech exploded for 22 points in the last 5:28 of the game
to exit Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium with a huge 34-20 ACC win over the Yellow Jackets. The fourth-quarter outburst
was keyed by freshmen, as Eddie Royal caught an 80-yard TD pass, Josh Morgan scored from 51 yards out, and Roland Minor
ran an interception back 64 yards with less than a minute to go.
The win was VT's first when trailing after three quarters since the 2000 win over Pittsburgh. The Hokies burned
Georgia Tech's 18th-ranked defense for 446 yards, including 304 yards passing by Randall, who completed 18-of-31 for 3
TDs and 1 interception. Randall was 3-for-5 for 159 yards and 2 TDs in the fourth quarter alone. He added 64 yards
rushing on 9 carries and was only sacked once for a 3-yard loss, as the Hokies used the short passing game and 3-step
drops to perfection. Mike Imoh carried 22 times for 77 yards.
But the story of the game, aside from the Hokies' uncharacteristic explosion of 4th-quarter points, was the stat
totals of their freshman wide receivers. Royal (3 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD), Morgan (2 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD) and Josh
Hyman (3 catches, 34 yards) combined for 8 receptions, 204 yards (25.5 ypc) and 2 TDs.
Xavier Adibi made a triumphant return to the gridiron, leading the Hokies with 8 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss
(including 2 of VT's 4 sacks), and a forced fumble. The Hokies used Adibi to spy on speedy Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball,
and Adibi was effective in checking Ball down the stretch, particularly after Ball twisted an ankle in the second half.
The flood of fourth-quarter points reversed a grim situation for the Hokies, who fell behind 14-0 early in the second
quarter when Georgia Tech scored two touchdowns within a minute. The first came after a Randall interception in VT
territory, which the Jackets turned into a 3-play, 39-yard TD drive, capped by a 9-yard pass to standout freshman wide
receiver Calvin Johnson.
That made it 7-0 GT, and on the ensuing kickoff, the ball popped loose on Royal's return. It appeared that Royal was
down on the play, but the referees ruled it a fumble on the Hokie 28, and GT scored in two plays on a 13-yard run by P.J.
Daniels. It was 14-0 GT and put the Hokies in a hole against the 18th-ranked defense in the country.
A spectacular 34-yard diving catch by VT's David Clowney trimmed the deficit to 14-7, and GT added a field goal
before the half to make it 17-7 at half time.
At half time, the Hokie defense, giving up just 265 yards per game, had surrendered 209 yards to Ball and company.
Ball was 9-of-13 for 113 yards, and the Jackets, behind powerful running by P.J. Daniels, had rushed 19 times for 96
yards. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, had 153 yards of offense but had squandered two fumbles by Daniels and had made some key
mistakes, including the Randall interception.
In the second half though, the Hokie defense clamped down. In a critical development early in the third quarter,
Daniels had to leave the game with an injury, and GT's rushing game left with him. Ball started to become unraveled,
surrendering a safety when he inadvertently ran out of the back of the end zone under pressure from Chris Ellis. Ball completed just 5-of-16 passes for 66 yards and two
interceptions after the break, and Georgia Tech only rushed for 70
yards, 33 of it coming on one play.
The safety was the only scoring of the third quarter, and it made it 17-9, Georgia Tech. The two teams traded field
goals in the fourth quarter, the second coming on a 34-yarder by GT's Travis Bell with 5:44 remaining that put the
Jackets up by eight, 20-12. It could have been worse, but a 12-yard sack by Adibi on second and goal from the Hokie
5-yard line pushed the Jackets back and forced the field goal.
Then the Hokies blew up:
- On the very next offensive play for VT, Georgia Tech blew coverage on Royal, who made a wide-open catch around the
50-yard line, turned into the middle of the field, and shot through a gap between two GT defensive backs for an
80-yard touchdown. The Hokies capitalized on the gift by tying the game with a 2-point conversion, as Randall rolled
right and threw in desperation back across the field, where a wide-open Richard Johnson made a sliding catch. The
game was tied at 20 with 5:28 left.
- After a GT three-and-out, the Hokies took over on their 17-yard line and scored in just three plays. After no gain
on first down, Randall executed a QB draw for 32 yards to the Hokie 49-yard line, then the Jackets again blew a
coverage, as Josh Morgan streaked downfield past a safety who was coming up to cover him, and Randall hit him in
stride for a 51-yard TD. 27-20 Hokies, 3:10 remaining.
- After an exchange of possessions, Roland Minor picked off a tipped ball and took it 64 yards to the house for the
clinching score with 56 seconds to go, and the Hokies had an unbelievable 34-20 lead and a huge ACC win. It was
Minor's second pick in less than two minutes, as he had intercepted an ill-advised pass by Ball on GT's previous
With the win the Hokies move to 6-2 overall, 3-1 in the ACC. Georgia Tech falls to 4-3 (3-3) and is in danger of not
making a bowl game for the first time in eight years.
The Hokies took the opening kickoff and, aided by two Georgia Tech penalties and 3 straight completions by Bryan
Randall, moved it as deep as the GT 36. The Jackets pushed VT back and forced a punt from the 40, which was muffed by
the GT returner but recovered at the 4.
Georgia Tech couldn't pick up a first down and punted it back, and the Hokies took over on the GT 43-yard line. VT
moved sharply downfield, but the drive was derailed when Randall fumbled on a scramble up the middle, turning it back
over to GT on the Jacket 19-yard line.
GT used strong running by tailback P.J. Daniels and rollout running by the quick feet of Reggie Ball to cross
midfield, but they turned it right back over when VT's Chris Ellis forced a fumble by Daniels that Chris Ellis recovered
at the Hokie 41.
On the Hokies' next drive, Randall's strong passing continued, as he hit Jared Mazzetta for a 21-yard gain on
2nd and 15 and Josh Hyman for an 8-yard gain on 3rd and 6. That helped the Hokies overcome two holding penalties, and VT
moved the ball all the way down to the GT 22-yard line, where the Hokies faced a 4th and 1 on the first play of the
second quarter. VT tried a toss sweep right to Mike Imoh, but the Jackets buried it for an incredible 13-yard loss.
Again the Jackets moved the ball well, but they self-destructed on another fumble by Daniels, who coughed it up when Adibi, playing his first series since the August 28th opener against USC, stripped Daniels. The Hokies
recovered on their
own 33-yard line with 11:11 to go in the second quarter.
Things started to unravel from there. Randall threw an interception on the next play, when he tried to go down the
middle to Mazzetta and was intercepted by GT safety James Butler. Butler brought it back to the Hokie 39-yard line, and
the Jackets struck quickly from there, scoring in three plays. First Daniels rushed for 3 yards. Then Ball hit Nate
Curry for a short pass, and when VT's Jimmy Williams missed the tackle, Curry turned it up field and ran it to the
Hokie 9-yard line. On the next play, Ball hit impressive freshman receiver Calvin Johnson across the back of the end
zone for a 9-yard TD and a 7-0 GT lead.
The Hokies didn't even get a chance to respond on their next drive, because freshman Eddie Royal fumbled the ensuing
kickoff. Television replays showed Royal hitting the ground with the ball, but the referees called it a fumble . Georgia
Tech recovered on the Hokie 28 and scored easily, hitting the tight end for a 15-yard gain to the 13, and then handing
off to Daniels, who scored from 13 yards out off left tackle. In 46 seconds, GT had scored two touchdowns to take a 14-0
lead with 9:00 to go in the half.
Desperately needing an answer, the Hokies got it, going on an 8-play, 65-yard drive. David Clowney made a spectacular
34-yard TD catch, fighting off close coverage and making a diving catch of a ball that GT cornerback Kenny Scott tipped.
The play came with 5:14 to go and sparked the Hokies, who were now down 14-7.
Virginia Tech was fired up, but Georgia Tech put a damper on them with a 62-yard drive that chewed up the rest of the
first-half clock and ended with a 46-yard field goal by Travis Bell. Bell's kick made it 17-7 with 35 seconds to go, and
the Hokies, backed up to their 13-yard line by a penalty on the ensuing kickoff, took a knee to run out the clock on the
Neither offense scored in the third quarter. GT opened with a 43-yard drive that penetrated to the Hokie 37-yard
line, but two straight incompletions by Ball killed the drive, and the Jackets punted for a touchback. The most
important development in the drive was P.J. Daniels exiting the field with an injury, not to return.
The two teams traded three-and-out possessions, and the Jackets pinned the Hokies inside their one-yard line with a
great punt by Ben Arndt, who averaged 45.8 on six kicks. The Hokies drove from there to their 25-yard line, then got a
50-yard punt off that was muffed by the GT returner, who fell on it at the GT 25-yard line.
GT went three and out again, and Arndt got off another good punt that hit at the Hokie 30 and rolled to the 16. Imoh
ran for 33 yards to help them cross midfield, and on 4th and 6 from the GT 47, VT's Vinnie Burns pinned
Georgia Tech at their 5-yard line with a great punt.
Burns' punt was critical, because on the next play, Ball ran along the back of the end zone to avoid pressure from Chris
Ellis. Ellis forced Ball deep into the end zone, and Ball, losing his concentration, ran out of the back of the end zone
in his efforts to escape Ellis. With 4:09 to go in the third, the Hokies had a safety that made it 17-9.
VT couldn't do anything with the ensuing possession, though. GT's free kick was strong, and the Hokies started at
their 22. A penalty backed them up and they wound up punting, and on GT's possession, the Hokie defense again held, forcing the Jackets to
The Hokies took over on their 20-yard line and put together a strong drive that ended in disappointment. Randall hit
Josh Hyman for 16 yards, Clowney for 19 yards, and Morgan for a 28-yarder that moved the ball all the way down to the
Jacket 1-yard line. After a run into the line for no gain, the Hokies ran a toss sweep to Imoh, who got bottled up and
lost 9 yards, back to the 10. The Hokies gave up another three yards on the next play on GT's only sack of the game and
were forced to settle for a Brandon Pace 30-yard field goal. The kick bounced off the right upright but deflected in for
3 points and a 17-12 Jacket lead with 11:11 to go.
Just when it looked like the Hokies had something going, they surrendered a 33-yard run to Daniels' backup, Chris
Woods. That and some nice running by Ball gave GT a 1st and goal at the Hokie 5-yard line. After Woods was stuffed for
no gain, Adibi came on a delayed blitz and sacked Ball at the 17-yard line. GT was forced to settle for a 34-yard field
goal that pushed the margin back to eight points, 20-12 with 5:44 to go.
Needing a play, the Hokies got one.
On VT's next offensive play, from their 20, Randall found a wide-open Royal at midfield on the right sideline. Royal
cut back across the field, accelerated into a gap ahead of GT linebacker KaMichael Hall, and took it to the end zone for
an 80-yard game-changer.
The Hokies went for two, and Randall rolled out right to buy time. As he was about to get sacked, he threw the ball
back across the field, where a wide-open Richard Johnson made a sliding catch to tie the game.
VT forced GT into a three-and-out by blitzing Adibi on 3rd and 6, forcing Ball to rush his throw incomplete. GT
punted it back to the Hokies, who took possession of the ball on their 32-yard line ... except a personal foul on Jimmy
Williams on the return pushed the ball back to the 17 yard line, with 4:10 to go.
On VT's next play, Mike Imoh slipped for no gain. Then Randall ran up the gut for 32 yards on a QB draw. With 1st and
10 from their 49-yard line, the Hokies read a corner blitz on the left side and went deep to Josh Morgan, who ran right
by the safety help and caught the ball in stride for an easy 51-yard TD. The Hokies had scored twice in less than two
and a half minutes and led 27-20 with 3:10 to go.
40 seconds later, Ball threw it up for grabs under pressure, and Roland Minor intercepted it
as he ran out of bounds on the Hokie 30-yard line with 2:31 to go.
VT thought that sealed up the win, but the Jackets used their timeouts -- and a questionable pass on third down by
the Hokies that fell incomplete, killing the clock -- to get the ball back on their 40 with 2:02 to go.
It was the Jackets' last hope, but it ended five plays later when a pass from Ball was tipped by his intended
receiver and fell into the arms of the waiting Minor, who took the gift and ran 64 yards for the clinching TD with 56
seconds to go. Minor dove at the end of the run and appeared to lose possession around the 2-yard line, but the referees
ruled it a TD, setting of a wild celebration on the Hokie sideline.
The Hokies (6-2, 3-1 ACC) get Saturday off and will play again on Saturday, November 6th, when they travel to Chapel
Hill to take on North Carolina (3-4, 2-2). The game will be played at either noon or 3:30 and will be televised. The
time and network announcement will be made by October 31st.