September 20, 2008
Hokies rally for another ACC road win
By Jimmy Robertson
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Virginia Tech (3-1) 0371020
North Carolina (2-1) 0107017
  • Kenan Stadium - 59,800
  • Passing: Tyrod Taylor 125 yds
  • Rushing: Darren Evans 61 yds
  • Receiving: Danny Coale 54 yds

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Virginia Tech used one of its biggest rallies ever to continue its ACC dominance on the road, coming from 14 points down in the third quarter to knock off North Carolina 20-17 in front of nearly 60,000 fans at Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the victory, the Hokies moved to 3-1 overall on the season and an important 2-0 in the Coastal Division. UNC fell to 2-1 on the year, 0-1 in the league.

The Hokies’ road success in the league is becoming legendary. Tech won its 18th straight conference road opener, and the Hokies were victorious for the 16th time in 17 conference road games since joining the ACC. They also moved to 5-0 overall against UNC in ACC games.

Tech’s 14-point rally tied for the second-largest comeback under head coach Frank Beamer – the Hokies rallied from 14 points down against Georgia Tech in 2004 and Syracuse in 2000. The win also marked just the 11th time the Hokies have rallied for a victory when trailing after three quarters under Beamer.

“We never claim to be pretty,” Beamer said. “But I give our players and coaches credit for hanging in there and finding a way to win. And that’s the bottom line – to be able to win. And win together as a football team. I thought our team did a great job of that.”

Things looked bleak for the Hokies following a long third-quarter jaunt by UNC’s Greg Little. Little scored on a 50-yard run with 6:44 left in the quarter to give the Tar Heels a 17-3 cushion.

But everything seemed to go the Hokies way after that. On the ensuing possession, Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor guided the Hokies on a 13-play, 89-yard drive that was aided by two huge UNC penalties – a personal foul call and a holding call. The holding call on Tar Heels’ safety Deunta Williams came on third-and-10 from the UNC 20 and gave the Hokies a first down at the 10. On the next play, tailback Darren Evans ran straight up the middle into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run, and Dustin Keys’ extra point cut the UNC lead to 17-10 with 1:09 left in the third quarter.

Then on UNC’s next possession, Little took a jarring hit from Tech defensive end Orion Martin. He coughed up the football and Tech’s Davon Morgan recovered at the UNC 30, putting the Hokies in prime position to cut into the lead.

Five plays later, Tech got it in the end zone. Kenny Lewis, Jr., took the handoff from Taylor and went around the right side for an 11-yard touchdown run, and Keys’ extra point tied the game at 17 with 13:46 remaining.

“That’s just who we are,” Tech cornerback Macho Harris said. “Never give up on Virginia Tech. We always keep fighting down to the last second and usually someone makes a play. That’s what happened today. We kept fighting and had some guys make plays.”

Harris, the senior from Highland Springs, Va., set up the Hokies’ game-winning score. After he and his teammates stopped the Tar Heels on their next possession, he returned a UNC punt to the Tar Heel 44 and then the Hokies got 15 more yards after a late-hit penalty on the Tar Heels. The Hokies went three-and-out on the drive, as Taylor got sacked for a three-yard loss on third down, but Keys came in and drilled a 45-yard field goal to give the Hokies a 20-17 lead with 10:42 left in the game.

“We were right there at the edge,” Beamer said, referring to Keys’ range. “But he got it through there. That thing hung on long enough to get through there.”

The Tar Heels tried to answer behind back-up quarterback Mike Paulus, who came in for an injured T.J. Yates. Paulus drove the Tar Heels deep into Tech territory on the ensuing possession, but Harris came up with another big play, intercepting a Paulus pass at the Tech 2 with 7:24 left to stop the drive.

Tech’s offense then milked 4:23 off the clock under steady senior Sean Glennon, who came in after Taylor injured his ankle with 6:45 left. The Hokies ran the ball effectively, and Glennon’s 16-yard pass to Danny Coale helped keep the drive going.

Tech punted with just a shade over three minutes to play. The Hokies’ defense, though, stood tall, and Stephan Virgil’s interception with 1:17 left preserved the victory.

The Hokies got out-gained 307-268, but Tech’s defense forced four turnovers and the Tar Heels killed themselves with 14 penalties for 121 yards.

Taylor, who improved to 7-0 as a starting quarterback at Tech, completed 11-of-21 for 125 yards, with two interceptions. Evans paced Tech’s rushing attack with 61 yards on 14 carries and Coale caught four passes for 54 yards.

Little rushed for 71 yards for the Tar Heels, who ended up missing Yates badly down the stretch. Yates sprained his ankle badly following a sack by Martin on a drive midway through the third quarter. He completed 11-of-18 for 181 yards, with a touchdown, before leaving.

“I give those players and coaches credit,” Beamer said of his team. “We hung in there and kept playing. The ball bounced our way there at the end a little bit, but I think we had something to do with that, too. We just hung in there and played. That’s what we’re about. It may no be pretty, but if we get a ‘W’ on the board, that’s pretty satisfying.”

Tech now gears up for a huge non-conference game at Nebraska next Saturday. The kickoff for that game is slated at 8 p.m., and will be televised by ABC.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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