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College Football: Hokies cap difficult year with bowl win
JOURNELL’S FIELD GOAL CARRIES VIRGINIA
TECH IN RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
TECH IN RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
BY NATHAN WARTERS
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
ORLANDO, Fla.—Virginia Tech didn’t seem to have any easy wins during its disappointing 2012 season.
True to form, the Hokies capped the year off with another grind-it-out victory over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday night at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
Tech ended its worst season in 20 years on a high note by overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Scarlet Knights, 13–10, in overtime.
Junior kicker Cody Journell booted a game-winning 22-yard field goal in extra time. Rutgers’ attempt to tie the game in overtime was unsuccessful, as Nick Borgese’s 42-yard field goal try sailed wide right.
“Nothing comes easy for us. It’s work, but we’ve got a bunch of guys that hang on,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “We’re not always pretty, but we kind of hang on and keep working at it.”
Virginia Tech broke a two-game bowl skid and ended Rutgers’ five-game bowl win streak. The Hokies have beaten the Scarlet Knights 12 straight times.
The Hokies (7–6), who lost six of eight games in the middle of the season, avoided their first sub-.500 season since 1992. Virginia Tech ended the season on a three-game winning streak.
“We haven’t had a losing record around here in I don’t know how long,” said Hokies cornerback Antone Exum, the game’s most valuable player. “We win around here. It’s just great not to be that team that ended with a losing season and hopefully, we can do bigger and better things next year.”
The Hokies kept Rutgers’ offense out of the end zone for the entire game. The Scarlet Knights’ only touchdown came early in the first quarter on a fumble recovery in the end zone by linebacker Khaseem Greene.
“We’re certainly disappointed with the inconsistency of our offense,” Rutgers first-year coach Kyle Flood said. “We just couldn’t get a drive during the game.”
Virginia Tech held Rutgers (9–4) to 196 total yards and forced two fourth-quarter turnovers. Exum set up the game-tying touchdown with a critical interception and 32-yard return to the Rutgers’ 21-yard line with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Three plays later, quarterback Logan Thomas connected with senior wide receiver Corey Fuller on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 10:56 left in regulation.
“I’m really thankful for this win, to keep the Virginia Tech tradition alive,” said Fuller, who had two catches for 46 yards.
Thomas, a junior, completed 15 of 39 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in what might have been his last college game. He deflected all talk afterward about the possibility of his leaving school early for the NFL.
“I can’t tell you now. I have a big decision in front of me either way it goes,” Thomas said. “Either way, I’m proud to be a Hokie.”
Virginia Tech was held scoreless for the first three quarters before Journell connected on a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Journell, who kicked three game-winning field goals this season, was 2 for 3 on field goals against Rutgers. He was short on a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.
There wasn’t much offense from either team in the first half, but Rutgers took advantage of a couple of big plays to take a 10–0 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Scarlet Knights went ahead 7–0 only 17 seconds into the contest on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Greene.
Virginia Tech center Caleb Farris sent a snap past Thomas, who tried to recover the ball and keep it out of the end zone to avoid a safety. The ball came loose and Greene recovered for an early lead.
Replays showed Thomas may have been down by contact before the fumble, but the Hokies didn’t challenge the ruling. Thomas and Beamer said they thought Rutgers was guilty of a neutral zone infraction before the play.
“In hindsight, I wish I would have kicked it out of the end zone,” Thomas said. “I thought I was going to be able to pick it up and get it to the 1- or 2-yard line.”
Rutgers took a 10–0 lead with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter on Borgese’s 36-yard field goal.
The Scarlet Knights started the drive from Virginia Tech’s 46-yard line thanks to a personal foul penalty against freshman Kevin Asante during a Hokies’ punt.
Rutgers got into field goal range on its first play of the possession. Wide receiver Miles Shuler gained 25 yards on a double-reverse run to get the Scarlet Knights to the Hokies’ 21.
Rutgers 10 0 0 0 0 — 10
Virginia Tech 0 0 0 10 3 — 13
Rut—Greene recovered fumble in end zone (Borgese kick), 14:43.
Rut—FG Borgese 36, 2:38.
VT—FG Journell 25, 12:14.
VT—C.Fuller 21 pass from Thomas (Journell kick), 10:56.
VT—FG Journell 22.
First downs 14 12
Rushes-yards 39-67 32-3
Passing 129 193
Comp-Att-Int 17-40-1 15-40-2
Return Yards 40 84
Punts-Avg. 10-36.3 11-42.2
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 5-1
Penalties-Yards 4-35 14-95
Time of Possession 32:34 27:26
RUSHING—Rutgers, Huggins 18-48, Shuler 1-25, Jamison 13-21, Team 1-(minus 1), Nova 6-(minus 26). Virginia Tech, Scales 12-14, M.Davis 1-11, Coleman 7-6, Gregory 1-2, Roberts 1-2, Holmes 1-(minus 2), Thomas 7-(minus 4), Team 2-(minus 26).
PASSING—Rutgers, Nova 17-40-1-129. Virginia Tech, Thomas 15-39-2-193, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Rutgers, Coleman 4-55, Harrison 2-23, Jefferson 2-13, Pratt 2-13, Carrezola 2-6, Huggins 2-(minus 2), T. Wright 1-11,Shuler 1-9, Jamison 1-1. Virginia Tech, Coleman 5-39, M. Davis 4-62, C. Fuller 2-46, Roberts 1-32, Dunn 1-6, Phillips 1-5, Gregory 1-3.
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442