September 6, 2009
Alabama knocks off Tech in season opener
By Jimmy Robertson
(5) Alabama (1-0) 9701834
(7) Virginia Tech (0-1) 7100724
  • Atlanta, Ga. - 74,954
  • Passing: Tyrod Taylor 91 yds
  • Rushing: Ryan Williams 71 yds
  • Receiving: Ryan Williams 42 yds
Game Notes

Roberts’ big return: Tech receiver Dyrell Roberts scored the Hokies’ first touchdown of the season when he returned a kickoff 98 yards in the first quarter. The sophomore from Smithfield, Va., fielded the ball at the 2, sprinted down the Tech sideline, broke a tackle and went into the end zone. His score gave Tech a 7-6 lead with 6:35 remaining in the first quarter.

The kickoff return marked the fifth longest in school history and the first since Macho Harris returned one for 100 yards against Clemson in 2007.

Hopkins’ pick: Tech defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins recorded his first career interception in his first collegiate game. But the assist goes to defensive end Jason Worilds, who forced Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy into a poor throw right to Hopkins. The big 300-pound redshirt freshman from Richmond returned the pick to the Alabama 14, setting up a 28-yard field goal by Matt Waldron.

Three frosh play: Three true freshmen played in the game – David Wilson, Jayron Hosley and D.J. Coles. Logan Thomas dressed for the game, but Tech’s staff plans on redshirting him.

Hosley served as the Hokies’ punt returner for the remainder of the game after Ryan Williams fumbled on his first attempt.

Odds and ends: The crowd of 74,953 fans marked the fourth-largest crowd ever at the Georgia Dome for a football game … Tech fell to 1-25 versus teams ranked in the Associated Press’ top five … The Hokies also fell to 1-11 all time versus Alabama … Tech dropped its sixth straight game in a domed stadium. The Hokies last won in a dome during the 2000 season when they beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

ATLANTA — Mark Ingram gave Alabama the lead for good with a 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and No. 5 Crimson Tide went on to down No. 7 Virginia Tech 34-24 in a hard-fought Chick-fil-A College Kickoff held in front of 74,954 fans at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night.

The Tide won the game for the second straight year following a win over Clemson in last year’s game. Tech lost its second straight season opener.

The Hokies carried a 17-16 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Tide, who owned a huge edge in time of possession, gradually wore down Tech and it showed in the fourth quarter.

Following a Tech punt, Alabama took over at its 46 with 12:51 remaining and got a big play when quarterback Greg McElroy hit Marquis Maze for a 48-yard gain to the Tech 6. On the following play, Ingram ran it in from six yards out to give the Tide the lead. Alabama went for two and got it when McElroy hit tight end Colin Peek in the back of the end zone to take a 24-17 lead with 12:23 to go.

Two minutes later, the Tide got a field goal from Leigh Tiffin with 10:29 remaining to give them a 10-point bulge. The Hokies tried to come back, cutting it to three points on a 32-yard touchdown run by Ryan Williams with 9:22 left, but the Tide put the game out of reach when they marched 74 yards on the ensuing possession. That drive ended when McElroy hit Ingram for an 18-yard touchdown play with 6:35 remaining.

Ingram, a sophomore, enjoyed a huge game, rushing for 150 yards on 26 carries and scoring a touchdown both rushing and receiving. In large part because of his rushing, the Tide hogged the ball for more than 37 minutes. The Tide finished with 498 yards.

“I think they made some good adjustments and we were a little tired out there,” whip Cody Grimm said. “We started missing some tackles and you can’t do that. We played good the majority of the game. Our offense scored that touchdown in the fourth quarter, and we’ve [the defense] got to come up big there. We’ve got to get off the field. We didn’t do that.”

McElroy, making his first career start, played steady as well, completing 15-of-30 for 230 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Tech found the going tough against Alabama’s defense. Williams paced the Hokies’ attack, scoring two rushing touchdowns.

His first gave the Hokies a 17-16 lead late in the first half. A 43-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Williams got the Hokies to the Alabama 5. On the next play, Taylor made an errant pitch on the option, but managed to recover at the Alabama 19 – for a loss for 14 yards.

On the play, though, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain received a flag for a personal foul after the play, while getting entangled with Tech lineman Sergio Render. That gave the Hokies a first down at the 4, and three plays later, Williams scored on a 1-yard plunge.

He finished with 71 yards on 13 carries. He also added 42 yards receiving on two catches.

Taylor completed just 9-of-20 for 91 yards. As an offense, the Hokies finished with 155 yards of total offense against an Alabama defense that returned nine starters.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Williams said of Tech’s offense. “All the way around, we’ve got to make bigger plays and we’ve got to be more consistent.”

Another bright spot for the Hokies was the return effort by Dyrell Roberts. He scored Tech’s first touchdown of the season, taking a kickoff return 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. That marked the fifth longest in school history and the first since Macho Harris returned one for 100 yards against Clemson in 2007. Roberts also added a 47-yard return of a kickoff in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to move on now,” Grimm said. “When two good teams play each other, one of them is going to lose and that’s how it went down tonight. It was a real good game for a long time, but we ran out of gas at the end.”

The Hokies continue their season next Saturday when they return home to take on Marshall. Kickoff for the game is slated for 1:30 p.m.

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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