November 29, 2008
Tech knocks off UVa to claim ACC's Coastal crown
By Jimmy Robertson
Virginia (5-7) 770014
Virginia Tech (8-4) 707317
  • Lane/Worsham Field - 66,233
  • Passing: Tyrod Taylor 137 yds
  • Rushing: Tyrod Taylor 137 yds
  • Receiving: Danny Coale 66 yds
VT-UVa postgame notes

Taylor sets career highs: One week after a tough performance against Duke, Tyrod Taylor set a career high in rushing yards and recorded Tech’s longest play of the season in the Hokies’ 17-14 victory over the Cavaliers. Taylor, a sophomore from Hampton, Va., rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries. That marks the fourth time in his career (third time this season) he has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau, tying him with Michael Vick for the second most 100-yard rushing performances by a quarterback at Tech. Bob Schweikert holds the school record with six.

Most of Taylor’s yardage came when he kept the ball on a draw play, broke a few tackles, and sprinted 73 yards on a run early in the second half. That run got the Hokies to the UVa 9, and two plays later, Greg Boone scored on a 4-yard run that tied the game at 14.

“I can’t even remember the play right now,” Taylor said of his run after the game. “I knew it was a called run. I just knew that I was on the sideline with free space and then tried to cut back at the end.”

Taylor and Darren Evans had the previous longest plays for the Hokies heading into the UVa game. Taylor had a 50-yard run in the Hokies’ win over Furman, while Evans recorded a 50-yard run in Tech’s victory over Maryland.

Porch pick a key play: Tech rover Dorian Porch found the perfect time to record his first college interception, picking off the pass of UVa’s Marc Verica late in the game to stop a Cavalier scoring threat. The Cavaliers were in field-goal range at the Tech 25, but on third-and-11 from the Tech 25, Verica tried to hit Kevin Ogletree on a post pattern and saw his pass picked off in the end zone by Porch, who returned the ball to the 40 with 2:15 left.

“He [Verica] didn’t see me coming,” Porch said. “I baited him into it a little. When he threw it up, it was like gold falling out of the sky. I ran over and got it at its high point and tried to take it to the house.”

The pick marked Tech’s 14th interception this season.

Boone with a first: Boone, the Hokies’ starting tight end, scored the first rushing touchdown of his career when he rumbled into the end zone on a 4-yard run that tied the game early in the third quarter. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder scored out of Tech’s ‘Wild Turkey’ formation and he now has carried the ball 19 times for 61 yards out of that formation.

“It feels good from an individual standpoint when the coach allows you to use your versatility to make plays,” said Boone, who also has caught two touchdown passes this season. “It’s also good for the offense to keep the flow of the momentum going. It gives the defense something else to look at and gives us something else to work on and improve upon.”

Coale establishes freshman record: Tech receiver Danny Coale established a Tech freshman record when he hauled in a Taylor pass in the first quarter of the Hokies’ game with UVa. The reception marked his 29th of the season, thus breaking the previous freshman of 28 held by former Tech great Eddie Royal, who caught that many passes as a true freshman in 2004.
Coale, a redshirt freshman from Lexington, Va., caught a career-high five passes for 66 yards in the game against the Cavaliers and now has caught 32 on the season. His previous career high for catches was four (three times this season) and his previous career high for yards was 59 in the Miami game.

Evans sets freshman rushing mark: Tech running back Darren Evans set the Tech freshman record with his 72-yard rushing performance against the Cavaliers. Former Hokie standout Kevin Jones held the previous record when he rushed for 951 yards as a true freshman in 2001.

Marginal note: Tech’s average margin of decision (win or loss) is just 7.3 points, which is the lowest in the country. Tech is the only team in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) to have played every game to 17 points or less.

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer walked into the postgame media room following the Hokies’ game with Virginia and carefully held the ACC championship game patch attached to a lanyard around his neck.

“Some years, putting this on means more than others,” he said. “But this one is about as special as it gets.”

Tech rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit, using a fourth-quarter field goal from Dustin Keys and a huge interception from rover Dorian Porch to knock off the Cavaliers 17-14 in the regular-season finale held Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.

The win enabled the Hokies to claim the ACC’s Coastal Division crown and clinch a spot in next Saturday’s championship game played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. It will mark the third time the Hokies have played in the championship game, and they will be looking to defend the league crown they won last season.

“To be in this position, I think our coaches deserve a lot of credit and I think our players deserve a lot of credit,” Beamer said. “We hung in there and battled. We found a way and never gave up. I’m just as proud as I can be of this football team.”

With the victory, the Hokies closed out the regular season with an 8-4 record, including a 5-3 mark in the ACC and a 6-0 record at home – their first unbeaten season at home since the 2000 season. Tech knocked off the Cavaliers for the fifth straight time and for the 12th time in the past 16 meetings between the two rivals. UVa, which needed a win to become bowl eligible, closed out its season with a 5-7 mark, 3-5 record in the league, and UVa head coach Al Groh fell to 1-7 against the Hokies as the Cavaliers’ head coach.

Tech got its first lead in the game late in the fourth quarter when the Hokies marched 40 yards in 10 plays. Tech got to the UVa 11, but the drive stalled, and the Hokies settled for a 28-yard field goal by Keys, a redshirt senior who missed a chip-shot 22-yarder early in the game. The score came with 6:37 left in the game and gave the Hokies a 17-14 lead.

UVa put together a nice drive of its own on the ensuing possession. The Cavaliers marched 49 yards – with a big chunk of that coming on Vic Hall’s 39-yard run to the Tech 24. But on third-and-11 from the Tech 25, UVa quarterback Marc Verica tried to hit Kevin Ogletree on a post pattern and saw his pass picked off in the end zone by Porch, who returned the ball to the 40.

The interception gave the Hokies the ball with 2:15 left and marked the first interception of Porch’s career.

“I would say,” Porch said when asked if the interception was the highlight of his career. “I had a chance to seal the game and to go up and get it like that felt really good.

“It’s a big rivalry game, and I’m not from Virginia, but I know how much it means to some of the guys who are. To come off the field and celebrate with them, that’s a great feeling.”

UVa did get the ball back one last time, taking over at its own 13 with 1:38 remaining. But Tech’s defense stiffened, and on fourth-and-9 from the UVa 14, Purnell Sturdivant sacked Verica for an 8-yard loss. The Hokies then ran out the final 52 seconds and started celebrating.

It marked a fitting end for Tech’s defense, which allowed just 249 yards of offense for the day – despite giving up a couple of big rushing plays to Hall, who started at quarterback and played on offense for the Cavaliers for the first time in his career. Tech now has held five straight opponents to under 250 total yards. Virginia only amassed 108 yards in the second half.

“The coaches let the linebackers play free and let us play man-to-man on the perimeter,” Tech cornerback Macho Harris said. “We were able to hold them down. Coach [Bud] Foster is THE best coordinator in the nation. I say that proudly.”

Tech’s offense enjoyed its second-best performance of the season, finishing with 392 yards of offense. Tyrod Taylor got the start despite a miserable four-turnover performance against Duke and led the way, rushing for a career-high 137 yards on 16 carries and completing 12-of-18 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He accounted for 274 yards of offense himself.

“I wish I could have played last Sunday [following the Duke performance]. That’s how badly I wanted to play,” Taylor said. “But we had a great week of practice this week and we played good today.

“Yes, this was probably my best performance because it meant a lot to the team. I had a couple of good games last year, but this one meant a lot. For the seniors to get a win in their last home game and to go to the ACC championship game, it’s a great deal.”

UVa took the early 7-0 lead on Hall’s 40-yard touchdown run with 11:57 left in the first quarter. But Tech tied it less than seven minutes later on Taylor’s 3-yard scoring toss to Jarrett Boykin. UVa retook the lead with 3:24 left in the first half on Hall’s 16-yard touchdown run and took a seven-point lead into the locker room.

The Hokies, though, tied the game quickly in the second half. On the first drive of the half, Taylor’s 73-yard run ended up setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by Greg Boone out of the Hokies’ ‘Wild Turkey’ formation. Keys’ extra point tied the game at 14 with 12:54 left in the third quarter.

Boone, a 6-3, 280-pound redshirt junior, ran three times for 12 yards on the day. Darren Evans got the most carries for the Hokies, running the ball 25 times for 72 yards.

Hall’s 109 yards rushing accounted for most of UVa’s 249 yards of offense. He only attempted one pass. Verica completed 8-of-14 for 77 yards, with the one interception.

The game marked the final regular-season game for the Hokies’ 14 seniors, all of whom were recognized before the game. That group currently has a 40-12 mark as a class, with three division titles and one ACC title.

And they have the potential to add one more. Tech will play Boston College in the ACC title game next Saturday in Tampa. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. and ABC will televise the game.

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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