Tech’s Perfect November Gives No ACC Crown

Virginia Tech 2009 Season Recap: Part III

Two consecutive, debilitating losses resulting in a fall from national grace—from fourth nationally to nearly the abyss of the unranked (inhabited by the beloved big orange, thank you)—had the Hokies feeling a bit lost around Halloween. East Carolina was perhaps the opponent-in-need to avoid the Hokies’ first three-game losing streak in six years. For motivation, Tech could conjure up memories of last season’s opening 27-22 upset loss to the Pirates in Charlotte, which was capped by a blocked punt returned 27 yards for the winning TD with just less than 2 minutes left. Certainly Tech wasn’t looking past East Carolina. This was the Hokies’ first visit to Greenville since 2000 and the Pirates and their fans certainly had this one circled on their calendars.

(22) Virginia Tech 16  East Carolina 3

Thu 5 Nov 2009 • 7:30 ET • Greenville NC

Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams (34) on his way to passing the 1,000 yard mark on the season. AP Photo/Gerry Broome.

Just enough was just enough. Matt Waldron kicked 3 FGs, and freshman RB sensation Ryan Williams eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark to hold off the Pirates by running for a season-high 179 yards including a 13-yard TD dash in the second quarter just before the half.  QB Tyrod Taylor uncharacteristically threw a lot, converting 17 of 30 passes for 137 yards and ran for and additional 61 yards. Tech outgained East Carolina in total yards 379 to 277.

The Hokies were strong early but seemed to come up with only FGs in the first quarter. The Pirates kept giving the ball away, including two fumbles in Tech territory. They seemed out of sync for much of the contest, and left their fired-up, “blackout” fans frustrated. Just what the Hokies needed to get their almost broken season back on the right track.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing:
T. Taylor — 17/30, 137 yds. 0 TDs. 0 INTs
Receiving:
D. Coale — 6/60 yds. 0 TDs.
D. Roberts — 2/31 yds 0 TDs.
Rushing:
R. Williams — 26/179 yds 0 TDs.
T. Taylor — 11/61 yds. 1TD.
Kicking:
M. Waldron — 4/4 FGs. 1/1 XPs.

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More road work for the Hokies coming up. This time it was up the Eastern seaboard to Byrd Stadium in College Park to face the 2-7 Terrapins. Maryland had just lost their three-year starting QB to a knee injury, bringing to the table Jamarr Robinson to make his first career start against a Tech defense rated eighth nationally in passing yards per game. More fortuitous, timely scheduling for the Hokies, as they work on reclaiming their season from the ashes of late October.

(20) Virginia Tech 36  Maryland 9

Sat 14 Nov 2009 • 1:00 ET • College Park MD

A typical picture of Maryland's fortunes against Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies.

Back to winning games in consecutive fashion by relying on the Hokie’s horses. Tyrod Taylor threw 13-for-23 for 268 yards and a career-high three TDs and also ran for 81 yards, and freshman sensation Ryan William ran for 126 yards on 23 carries, his seventh 100- yard game of the season. The Hokies put up 289 yards in the first half for a 27-3 halftime lead, and then coasted the rest of the way over the hapless Terps. The new Terp QB Jamarr Robinson was ineffective for Maryland, throwing 12 for 32 and only 104 yards. The Terps could only add 132 more yards on the ground. It was a 209-21 yardage advantage for Tech after the first quarter when the Hokies had a 14-0 lead.

Even though Tech won convincingly, they were knocked out of the ACC race when Georgia Tech defeated Duke. Chalk that one up to the one they shouldn’t have let fumble slip away—albeit to a very fine Tar Heel defense—on a Thursday October night at home in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
T. Taylor — 13/23, 268 yds. 3 TDs. 0 INTs
Receiving
J. Boykin — 3/118 yds. 1 TD.
D. Roberts — 3/78 yds. 1 TD.
Rushing
R. Williams — 23/126 yds. 1 TD.
T. Taylor — 8/81 yds. 0 TDs.
Kicking
M. Waldron — 3/3 FGs. 1/1 XPs.

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It was looking downhill from here. A 4-6 NC State at home followed by the usually dangerous trip to Charlottesville (but not when the Cavs are 3-8). First was Senior Week against the virtually bottom-dwelling Wolfpack, led by an injury-depleted defense allowing 31 points per game. Ryan Williams just had to be licking his chops, wanting to show his love for his seniors. He needed just 31 yards to break fellow Hokie Darren Evans’s single-season ACC and school records for yards by a freshman set last season. Meanwhile, NC State was probably glad to get away from its own fans for the week after reportedly getting booed by the Wolfpack “faithful” last weekend.

(16) Virginia Tech 38  North Carolina State 10

Sat 21 Nov 2009 • 3:30 ET • Blacksburg VA

Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams gets away from N C State's Jarvis Byrd. AP Photo/Don Petersen.

Yep. Ryan Williams didn’t disappoint. He carried the pill 32 times. He gained 120 yards for the all-time school and conference season record for a freshman. He scored four TDs. He showed his 21 senior teammates the love and respect they deserved on their day. His signature play: second and six at the ‘Pack 19, big Ryan went around left end, got grabbed by a State safety who will remain nameless, and Williams drug the poor guy who was holding on Ryan’s jersey for dear life all the way into the endzone.

It wasn’t all Williams. WR Jarrett Boykin caught six passes for 164 yards and a TD. Also, senior LB Cody Grimm, playing in his final home game, forced three Wolfpack fumbles. That’s what Senior Days are supposed to be all about. Meanwhile, State gave up more than 30 points for the eighth game in a row. But there was an upset of sorts. The Hokies won the pre-game coin flip—their first in 11 games. They elected to kick, and on the first play from scrimmage, the Hokie defense forced a ‘Pack fumble and turnover, and scored on a FG seven plays later.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
T. Taylor — 9/17, 197 yds. 1 TD. 0 INTs.
Receiving
J. Boykin — 6/164 yds. 1 TD.
D. Coale — 2/22 yds. 0 TDs.
Rushing
R. Williams — 32/120 yds. 4 TDs.
Kicking
M. Waldron — 1/1 FGs. 5/5 XPs.

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Well, Tech got their health back by bottom-feeding. Nothing like mercury- and lead- poisoning to get your season back on track. Now it was another bad ball club, but this time their in-state rival. And you know how those can be. The Cavs’ players were likely playing their last game for their coach, Al Groh. And sometimes, depending on the season’s dressing-room dynamics, those can lead to some pretty interesting matches, no matter the respective records.

(14) Virginia Tech 42  Virginia 13

Sat 28 Nov 2009 • 3:30 ET • Charlottesville VA

Virginia Tech Hokies QB Tyrod Taylor is congratulated by Virginia Cavaliers defensive end Chris Long.

It was 14-13 Hokies at the half. Enough said about in-state rivalries?  But the cream usually rises… Virginia Tech scored 28 unanswered points in the second half, three of the TDs came in the final quarter, and the embattled Virginia coach ended up reading a poem at the post-game Q&A as a likely preview of his eventual fate. Ryan Williams finished his regular season with a bang, running for 183 yards and four TDs. He ended his sparkling season with 20 TDs, the most ever in the history of the ACC, passing NC State’s T.A. McClendon. He was just too much for Groh’s Cavs in the end.

Williams scored on runs of 5, 20, 4, and 2 yards. His biggest run of the game was a 51-yard scamper in the final quarter that was brought to an end when he was stripped of the ball at the 10-yard line. However, the ball harmlessly squirted into the endzone where teammate Jarrett Boykin recovered it for a TD, providing salt in the Virginia Cavalier wound.

LB Zack Luckett, who had performed well on kick coverage all season long, blew out his ACL and MCL during the game, and will miss the bowl game against the Vols as well as spring practice.

Virginia Tech Performers:
Passing
T. Taylor — 8/15, 185 yds. 0 TDs. 1 INT.
Receiving
D. Coale — 6/135 yds. 0 TDs.
Rushing
R. Williams — 24/183 yds. 4 TDs.
D. Wilson — 5/54 yds. 1 TD.
Kicking
M. Waldron — 0/1 FGs. 6/6 XPs.

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COMING UP

SUN 27 DEC: A RIVALRY MADE IN (SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN HEAVEN) IS ALL TALK.

MON 28 DEC: TRYING TO SHED A NATIONAL INFERIORITY COMPLEX.

TUE 29 DEC: GOODBYE SENIORS – WE HARDLY KNEW YA.

WED 30 DEC: PEACH BOWL GAME PREVIEW.

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