Pass play a career long for Coale and Taylor: The Hokies knocked off 19th-ranked Nebraska 16-15 at Lane Stadium because they connected on one huge play. Trailing by five with less than two minutes to go, Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor found a wide-open Danny Coale running down the Tech sideline and hit him in stride with a perfect pass. Coale caught it and managed to get to the Nebraska 3 after Nebraska safety Matt O’Hanlon forced Coale to step out of bounds.
The huge gain led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Dyrell Roberts with 21 seconds remaining to lift the Hokies to the victory.
“They were playing a cover-2 [zone defense] and I just found a hole,” Coale said. “I knew as soon as he [Taylor] looked back my way that he was going to let it go. That’s the big thing with Tyrod scrambling. You have to find a hole. You have to get open for him. He’ll find you and he did. He made a great play.”
Taylor said the play called for him to throw to a receiver on the other side of the field.
“We had one miscue where the route was wrong,” Taylor said. “I had to work my way to the other side and Danny was open. It was cover-2 and he was open up the sideline. I saw him at the last minute and he made a great catch.
“His guy [O’Hanlon] thought I was working the other side of the field. But I kept the play alive and ended up coming back to his side. Danny kept running and I found him. He’s a dependable guy. I knew he was going to catch it."
The reception marked a career long for Coale, easily surpassing his previous high of 43 yards, which occurred in Tech’s previous game against Marshall. Coale finished with two catches for 89 yards.
The pass also marked a career long for Taylor, surpassing a 59-yard completion against Ohio in 2007. Taylor completed 12-of-27 for 192 yards, with a touchdown.
The pass play was the longest by the Hokies since 2002 when Bryan Randall hooked up with both Keith Willis and Jarrett Ferguson for 87-yard receptions in the same game at Syracuse.
Roberts atones for drop: Roberts made up for a dropped pass on fourth down from the Tech 46 with 2:07 left by making a tough catch in traffic in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
On the play, Taylor tried to hit Xavier Boyce, but Boyce was double-covered. So Taylor – who had a ton of time to make a throw on the play – motioned for Roberts to keep moving. Then, just as Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh grabbed him, he threw a strike and Roberts made the tough catch with Nebraska defensive back Prince Amukamara draped all over him.
“I was just trying to buy time,” Taylor said. “Xavier was covered by two people and Dyrell was behind him and he only had one guy on him. I waved to him and told him to keep coming and hopefully we’d make a play. I threw it and he made a great play.”
“I saw Tyrod motion at me, but the cornerback saw that also,” Roberts said. “So I worked the opposite way. When Tyrod threw it, I wasn’t worried about the corner being on my back. I just knew I was going to catch the pass no matter how hard he threw. I snagged it and held on to it as hard as I could.”
Officials reviewed the play to make sure he caught the pass, but there was no doubt. It was Roberts’ only catch of the day.
Tech ‘D’ keeps Huskers out of the end zone: Tech’s defense bent on several occasions, but never broke, keeping Nebraska out of the end zone. The Cornhuskers scored on four of their five visits in the red zone and all their points came on Alex Henery field goals. Henery connected on field goals of 40, 27, 19, 38 and 38 yards.
“Every time we come on the field, we want to keep them out of the end zone,” Tech defensive end Jason Worilds said. “Not only that, we want the ball back ourselves. We want people to think of us as a stingy defense.”
Henery tied the Lane Stadium record for field goals by an opponent. Former Virginia kicker Rafael Garcia hit five field goals against the Hokies in 1994. Former Tech kicker Mickey Thomas holds the stadium record with the six field goals he booted against Vanderbilt in 1989.
As a team, Nebraska had 343 yards of total offense, with tailback Roy Helu pacing the attack with 169 yards rushing. Helu became the third back to rush for more than 100 against the Hokies this season – the first time that has happened to a Tech defense since 2002 (WVU Quincy Wilson, UVa’s Wali Lundy and Miami’s Willis McGahee).
“They made some plays and we made some mistakes,” Worilds said. “That’s what it comes down to. We have to clean up those mistakes, and if we do that, we’ll alleviate those big plays. But take nothing away from him [Helu]. He’s a great running back.”
Carmichael with a timely first interception: Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael picked the perfect time to make his first collegiate interception when he picked off a deflected pass on the final play of the game. He slid to the turf once he made the grab, and that set off a wild celebration.
“We were alert for the deep shot,” said the redshirt junior from Clifton, Md. “I was just doing what the coaches taught me. I thought about doing something with it [on the return], but I knew Coach [Bud] Foster would be yelling at me to get down. I could hear him in my head, so I got down.
“It felt great. There was no better time than the present to get that first one.”
Williams passes the century mark: Tech tailback Ryan Williams went over the century mark for the second straight game, rushing for 107 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Williams rushed for 164 yards in Tech’s win over Marshall and is currently the ACC’s leading rusher at 114 yards per game.
Chancellor adds to career total: Tech safety Kam Chancellor intercepted his first pass of the season in the third quarter when he picked off a Zac Lee pass. The interception marked the fifth of his career.
Roberts starts game with a bang: Roberts got things started in the right way for the Hokies, returning the opening kickoff of the game 76 yards to the Nebraska 24. That return led to Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter that gave the Hokies a 7-0 lead.
Roberts, who scored on a 98-yard kickoff return in the season opener against Alabama, leads the ACC in kickoff return average with an average of 48.3 yards per return. He has returned six kickoffs for 290 yards.
Whitley makes first career start: As expected, Eddie Whitley, a sophomore from Matthews, N.C., made his first career start in Stephan Virgil’s absence. Virgil missed a second straight game after suffering a knee injury in the season opener against Alabama. Rashad Carmichael started in Virgil’s boundary corner position and Whitley got the nod at field corner.
Also, fullback Kenny Jefferson made his first career start.
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