Virginia Tech Squeeks by Rutgers 13-10 in OT
In a series dominated by Virginia Tech, one may wonder why this game was a surprise. As predicted it was a defensive slugfest with each schools offense making an elaborate effort to prove the opposing defense’s worthiness. Logan Thomas was all but spectacular in what could be his final VT game, and the young Rutgers star, Gary Nova, threw the game to the Hokies…literally. The leading rusher in the game finished with less than 50 yards on the ground and wasn’t a starter, neither team reached the 200 total yard plateau, there were 21 punts (a bowl record), and Virginia Tech won despite gaining a whopping 3yds (three yards, 9 feet, 3% of a ONE football field) rushing. It was an ugly game, one in which the defense was outstanding, offense was lackluster, special teams were busy, and history repeated itself.
The series between VT and Rutgers goes back quite awhile, with VT dominating the series between the two schools, VT won the last 11 going into the game. But this matchup was different. The teams were having two completely different seasons. Rutgers was 9-3 and on fire; sharing the Big East title. VT was 6-6 and struggling to keep its head above water. The last game between the schools was won by VT back in 2003 and VT proved that they still had the upper hand.
The game was an ugly one from the get go, with VT giving up a TD on their first play of the game when Logan Thomas missed the snap and it went 25 yards to the endzone where he (according to the zebras) fumbled the ball before he crossed into his own endzone and Rutgers recovered, making it 7-0 within 20 seconds of game time. From there on out it was defense 100%.
Rutgers was able to muster up a single field goal the rest of the half as VT’s defense proved once again that it should be considered elite. Gary Nova didn’t help Rutgers cause as he seemed to throw the ball directly to VT d-backs who managed to drop everything until the very end. On the other side of the ball, VT’s offense was struggling, bad. Every offensive possession fizzled out with a multitude of punts, turnovers, and lack of moving the ball. In fact, VT got into Rutgers territory once the entire half, and the next play lost 6 yards to fall back onto VT turf. Rutgers went into the half with a 10-0 advantage, and VT had 85 yards of penalties, and 80 total yards.
The second half was more of the same. The 3rd quarter blew by without anything happening except 3-and-outs and more punts. Then came the 4th quarter. VT marched down the field and Cody Journell aced a 25 yd FG to finally get the Hokies on the board. Gary Nova came back and kept throwing balls at VT defensive backs while managing to slowly move down the field. Finally, Antone Exum, the all-too-famous star who was in the Christmas spirit picked one off to set up Logan Thomas’ 21 yd TD pass to Correy Fuller, the senior VT receiver who had a spectacular season. 10-10 and then starts more ugly. Cody Journell lined up for a career-long 51 yard field goal attempt which ended 2 feet short, in the pouring rain, with mere minutes to spare. Rutgers ran out the clock and thus began OT.
VT got the ball to start the extra period and right off the bat Logan Thomas completed a 15 yd pass to set up Cody Journell with a chip shot for the lead in the first half of OT. Rutgers couldn’t master VT’s defense and VT was able to hold strong and force a 42 yarder that Rutgers’ Nick Borgese missed, sending the VT players into a frenzy as the game ended.
The two schools combined for a ridiculous 21 punts which set a bowl record. VT’s punter AJ Hughes punted 11 times with a 42 yd average earning him my co-player of the game. He was busy every quarter punting and punting and punting. He finished with a grand total of 464 punt yards, more total yards than VT and Rutgers combined for.
My second co-player of the game was Antone Exum. After making news earlier this week by providing a Christmas to three brothers with the Best Buy gift card he received for playing in the bowl. Exum had the Hokies lone interception of the night. Very suiting as he had been hit in the chest by Nova multiple times but was never able to reel it in, until the game was on the line and VT was down 10-3. He set up VT’s game-tying TD with his pick.
In a game that featured one offensive TD, one defensive TD, and 21 punts; it was not a pretty game. VT now has 20 straight winning seasons, as the Russell Athletic Bowl provided VT with a 7-6 record. This may be the worst VT team under Frank Beamer, this may have been the lowest rushing total in Franks career as head coach, but proved that history does tend to repeat itself no matter how it gets done. This is an important step for the Hokies as they start to prepare for Alabama to kick of 2013.