Darkest Day in Virginia Tech History.
Did We Make a Difference? Recruiting How Many Stars? Who Cares? They Call It Beamer Ball. Surround Yourself with Good People. Hitting the Links.
Frank Beamer on the field
Two Years and Out. My Loyalty is Tested. The Quarterback Closest to Michael Vick. Winning Off the Field.
Whats Next? About the Authors. Under his watch, Virginia Tech has evolved from a struggling independent program in the s into a national power. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. With regards to football, the Frank Beamer era has been fantastic. However, there can be no doubt that such a tremendous ascension of a football program also leads to elevated expectations from the fan base.
There's no denying that Hokie football has seen it's fair share of disappointments in big games over the past decade or so. High expectations are going to engender letdowns from time to time, thus is the way of the world. But it certainly doesn't help that fans of the old school powers are constantly questioning Virginia Tech's validity as a powerhouse.
After personally having to deal with the derision of Alabama and Boise State fans, I can't wait until the Hokies finally snag that MNC and shut all of the bloviating naysayers up for good. But that is another day. May is a depressing time for college football fans, with March Madness a distant memory, and the distraction of the NBA and NHL playoffs withering away.
On that note, let's wallow in the lowest of the low points we Hokie followers have experienced since Frank Beamer arrived and put Blacksburg on the map. The Miami Hurricanes, arguably the greatest college football team of all time, had one close call all season: a December 1st, season closing trip to Virginia Tech.
Coming into it, and even halfway through, I would have been thrilled if you told me the Hokies would only lose by two. But experiencing it live, and seeing a win over No. Miami jumped out to a lead with a touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey and a touchdown run from Clinton Portis it's fun to name-drop with the Canes. But in the second half, the Hokie defense and freshman Kevin Jones, stormed back. A Ben Taylor fumble recovery led to a short touchdown drive, and Jones had rushing yards in the second half.
Down to with eight minutes left, it seemed like the game was over. But Tech responded with a suprisingly easy, six-play, yard drive. A two-point conversation cut the lead to eight.
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After a quick stop, the Hokies did what they do, Eric Green coming in to block the punt, and Brandon Manning returning it 22 yards for the score. To this day, this is the loudest I've ever heard Lane Stadium. But Ernest Wilford, despite his record-setting, prolific career, had an off day.
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He dropped the two-point conversation pass, and that was that. The Hokies got the ball back around midfield, but with Kevin Jones gone with an injury, and Grant Noel having the worst game of his career, the offense quickly gave the ball away on an Ed Reed interception.
My how the tables can turn. What started off looking like the best-case scenario for a football game pounding your rival into the ground , quickly turned into the worst-case scenario: momentarily pounding them into the ground, then allowing them to stage a huge comeback. The Hokies took a lead and later a halftime advantage of , before completely ceding control of the game in the second half.
The swing in momentum occurred late in third quarter, when Hokie quarterback Al Clark threw an interception that Byron Thweatt returned 53 yards for a touchdown. That play flipped what seemed like an impending Tech touchdown drive into a Wahoo touchdown, flipping the score to Then, with two minutes to play, the Wahoos capped a shocking comeback with a shockingly quick yard touchdown drive. It only took five plays, the pin in the coffin being another deep slant, a play which likely haunted the dreams of Keion Carpenter and Pierson Prioleua that night.
This one is so recent, I don't feel much need for recapping. The Hokies, thanks to a fumble and blocked punt, fell down Painfully similar to the Sugar Bowl and Miami game, they stormed back, before falling just short. I still contend that bad calls greatly facilitated the Broncos victory on Labor Day. The inexplicable decision to pick up the flag on the block in the back on the final punt return, and the unnecessary late-hit call on Bruce Taylor were both baffling.
Much less clear were the possible pass-interference calls on the last Tech drive, but they were still questionable. Boise State suffered from a few ball calls as well, so it was mostly the horrendous first quarter that haunted me with respect to this game. But the officials were still bad and likely affected the game. Either way, the game was infinitely frustrating. The Hokies outplayed the Broncos for three quarters and still lost. Tyrod Taylor had the phenomenal game we all assumed would accompany a program boosting victory, but as seems to be the case with Virginia Tech in big non-conference games, when part of the team steps up, another part falls flat on its face.
For all the years Tech played in the Big East, the place they seemed to struggle the most was the Carrier Dome.
Frank Beamer Remembers The Time His Loyalty Was Tested As Virginia Tech Football Coach
Even the wins there which were few and far between were tough, as I distinctly remember Michael Vick taking a beating from Dwight Freeney en route to a win in The Hokies had no such luck in The Hokies, led by a yard touchdown run from Jarrett Ferguson a fullback , jumped out to a lead the only score more cursed than for VT. But the Orangemen closed the half with a field goal, then started the second half with a touchdown, cutting the lead to eight. Another field goal and a touchdown early in the final quarter, and the Orangemen took the lead. But only for a moment, as Loren Johnson who earlier returned a fumble for a TD picked off the two-point conversion try and returned it almost the distance, before fumbling intentionally, as another Hokie covered the ball in the end zone.
After the Hokies added a field goal, Donovan McNabb took over with four minutes left.
He methodically drove down the field, leading to a 1st-and-goal from the Tech eight. On second down, Corey Moore sacked McNabb back at the 13, and the Orangemen were forced to spike with five seconds left. McNabb threw up on the field before Bud Foster, probably foolishly, called a timeout. But Foster probably didn't know the extent to which McNabb was exhausted and was just trying to get his defense set. Either way, McNabb came back. On the game's final play, he rolled to his right, saw nothing, then threw a perfect pass all the way across the field into pretty tight coverage.
This game epitomized the season: close but no cigar. Just as in the Temple game, and the Virginia game to come, the Hokies blew a big lead. And made Donovan McNabb a Syracuse legend. The season was the most painful Tech season I've had the misfortune of watching. This game just epitomized the whole season. Fresh off a drubbing of No. Though just two weeks past the soul-crushing loss to West Virginia, the Hokies season seemed revived by the huge Miami win, and at No. Kevin Jones set a school record with rushing yards, but the Hokies lost a shootout The Panthers held the lead for a good part of the game, taking a advantage with left in the third.
But Kevin Jones immediately responded with an yard touchdown run and then a yard touchdown that followed a yard pass from Marcus Vick to Ernest Wilford. With seven minutes to go and a four-point lead, the Hokies began a drive that culminated in a 4th-and-4 on the Pittsburgh Though it looked like receiver Justin Hamilton was interfered with, no call was made, and the Panthers took over, before subsequently driving 70 yards and scoring with less than a minute left.
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The tough less began a downward spiral of the Virginia Tech season. Eleven years later, this is still hard to talk about. After being told they didn't belong by Rick Reilly and so many other sportswriters and college football fans, the Hokies responded to a tough start by taking the lead at the end of the third quarter, before seeing the national championship slip through their fingers. I always say if even one break had gone the Hokies' way this entire game, they would have won. The game started with a long drive, which ended on a 4th-and-short where Beamer opted to go for it, Vick was stripped, and the Seminoles won the scrum for the ball in the end zone.
Virginia Tech was forced to watch as the Seminoles scored two special teams touchdowns in the first half, one blocked and one returned punt. Add to that the fact that Tech missed two two-point conversations, failed in a fake punt and failed to convert on three fourth downs, and it seemed like everything broke right for the Seminoles.
The Hokies outgained the Seminoles and seemed to outplay them for the majority of the game. But Florida State made the big plays, and big plays win games.