September 4, 2012
Season opener a Fuller family affair
By Marc Mullen

BLACKSBURG, Va. - In Virginia Tech’s first ever overtime game at Lane Stadium, Cody Journell kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to force the extra session, and in the first overtime period, chipped through a 17-yarder to give the Hokies a 20-17 victory.

Afterward, head coach Frank Beamer spoke about how Journell’s football family helped him pull through the events since he was last on a football field. However, two Hokies who are literally family members – Corey and Kyle Fuller – put Journell into position to attempt those field goals and give the team the win.

Trailing 17-14 after Georgia Tech scored a go-ahead touchdown with just 44 seconds left in the game, Logan Thomas marched the Hokies 51 yards to set up Journell’s kick.

“I was proud of the offense for making those plays when we really had to,” Beamer said. “It wasn’t as efficient as it needed to be, and with that field position, we probably should have had more points on the board, but they kept playing and got it done. I am proud of them.”

The drive started with a 22-yard catch by Corey, and three plays later, with Virginia Tech facing a fourth-and-4 at Georgia Tech’s 47, he came through again with a 23-yard catch and run with six seconds left to set up the game-tying kick. He finished with career highs in catches (5) and yards (82), which tied for the game high.

“Corey, he’s a track guy, and then, he’s a fast football guy,” Beamer said. “I want to keep seeing him improve. I had a scout ask me about him the other day. He noticed him out there on the field. Corey was fast, but football-wise, he was not quite the receiver that he is becoming. He’s developed into a threat.”

“It meant a lot to come through like that,” Corey said. “I knew I had it in me I just had to step up. D.J. [Coles] went down and Marcus [Davis] was out for a little bit, and I just had to step up and make plays. Coach [Kevin] Sherman [Tech’s receivers coach] tells me to just make plays, and I knew I could make those big plays, so I just went and let loose.”

In the overtime session, Georgia Tech had the ball first and was sitting at the Hokies’ 10-yard line facing a third-and-6. The Yellow Jackets’ quarterback, Tevin Washington, was rushed by Bruce Taylor and threw up a prayer that was caught by Kyle Fuller in the end zone, all but ending the game without allowing the Yellow Jackets a field-goal try.

“It would have been nice to get a stop on that last drive, but we didn’t,” Beamer said, referring to the Georgia Tech touchdown late in the fourth quarter that gave the Yellow Jackets the lead. “In overtime, we got pressure on the quarterback and got a pick there, so that was big.”

“At no point after that [Georgia Tech] touchdown did I think we wouldn’t come back and win this game,” Kyle said. “That just showed how together our team was, and that just goes back to all the work we put in and to continue to keep fighting.

“On that last drive, being able to come back with a play, that just topped it off.”

What made this all the more sweeter for the Fuller brothers was that older brother, Vinnie, was in the stands and was honored at the end of the first quarter as a “Legend of Lane Stadium,” which, among the highlights, showed video of him helping the Hokies to a victory over No. 6 West Virginia, as he returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and intercepted a pass on the second-to-last play.

“That was wonderful,” Vinnie said. “It was definitely a nice honor, and it’s always nice to be recognized for the time you spent at an institution. So to come back here and get recognized tonight and for them to play as well as they did, in front of our entire family and friends, it was nice.”

“I didn’t even know that he was going to be honored,” Kyle said. “He tries to get to as many games as he can, and since he isn’t with a [NFL] team right now, he’s actually back taking classes here, so that is something that he’s going to do – get out and watch us play. It’s always good to have family here to support us.”

And when asked what they thought would be the first thing Vinnie would say to his younger brothers when he saw them after the game, Corey responded with, “Big time players make big time plays in big games.”

“The first thing I’m going to say is ‘Congratulations!’” Vinnie said. “I think they both know that they played well, so I will congratulate them on their game. The thing I am NOT surprised about is how well they played. They both have a high level of expectations for themselves. They expect to do well.”

Vinnie, who is currently on campus taking classes to finish up a second undergraduate degree, then echoed exactly what Corey said.

More games like this for either Corey or Kyle could cement either of them another “Legend of Lane Stadium” honoree for the family.

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