Virginia Tech finally gets it right on third trip to Atlanta

On their third try, Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech finally won a game in Atlanta Thursday night, defeating Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

On their third try, Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech finally won a football game in Atlanta on Thursday.

Having lost to Alabama in its season opener in the Georgia Dome, then returning here following a five-game winning streak, only to get dropped this time by Georgia Tech, it’s safe to assume that whole burning Atlanta thing must have passed through somebody’s head at Virginia Tech. If not several heads.

But alas, the Chamber of Commerce can breathe easier today. They didn’t lose Blacksburg.

“If we lost tonight, we weren’t coming back,” coach Frank Beamer cracked.

Gaining some measure of superiority for the ACC over the SEC — at least for one night — Virginia Tech belted Tennessee, 37-14, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The result accomplished two things: 1) It will keep Tennessee out of the top-25 rankings, thereby minimizing any gloating by coach Lane Kiffin (hey, go with it); 2) It almost certainly will push Virginia Tech (10-3)  into a top 10 finish. Beamer can only imagine what might’ve been this season, if Hartsfield Airport hadn’t been such a gateway to Hades for them.

It’s a wonder Virginia Tech didn’t pass on the invitation to return to Atlanta. The Hokies basically were eliminated from the national championship race in the season opener when they lost to Alabama, 34-24, in the Georgia Dome. They won their next five, but then came back to Atlanta and lost to Georgia Tech, 28-23.

Equally surprising was that when Virginia Tech accepted the bid, their fans didn’t mind coming back. The school’s allotment of 17,500 tickets disappeared in like seven seconds. When you consider the number that came down for the Alabama game and the small allotment that sold for the Georgia Tech game, bowl president Gary Stokan estimates 53,000 fans traveled to Atlanta this season.

“People thought we were crazy for inviting them back,” Stokan said.

Actually, it’s stunning how popular this game has become. This was the 13th straight sellout. Next year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl somehow is already only 3,000 tickets short of a sellout, and the teams haven’t even been announced yet.

Think about it. If Stokan was really evil, he could pit Vanderbilt against Duke next year just for chuckles. Of course, then he’d probably be out of a job. Or a sponsor.

This bowl has come a long way since its days as the Peach Bowl in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. One  miserable reminder:  The 1985 game between Army and Illinois was played in rain and mud and conditions so dreadful that even Dick Bestwick, then the Peach Bowl’s executive director, said: “The bowl can’t exist status quo. If things go as they have, I would question its reason for existence.” And he was the guy who was selling the thing.

Its current incarnation might be the greatest remainder of what the college bowl season used to be about: Good teams. Intriguing match-ups. Happy and content fans who viewed college football’s post-season as a reward, not an aggravating and illogical exercise in futility (read: BCS).

Virginia Tech? Sure, they’d come back. Georgia fans watched what they’re missing: Bud Foster’s defense. The Hokies held the Vols to five yards rushing, 240 total yards and shut them out in the second half. They also sacked Jonathan Crompton six times.

Tech jumped to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on two touchdown runs set by freshman Ryan Williams (one set up by an interception). Tennessee scored the next two touchdowns to tie it. The first on a four-yard touchdown run by Montario Hardesty, which capped an 80-yard drive. The second was a two-yard pass from Crompton to Denarius Moore.

Noteworthy about the second touchdown is it was set up by an interception by Janzen Jackson, a member of Tennessee’s Convenience Store Holdup Trio. Two other players were kicked off the team. Jackson was reinstated, I think because Kiffin determined he believed they were just going to an after-hours library.

Back to the game: The turning point came immediately following the Vols’ second touchdown. Virginia Tech began a possession with 18 seconds left in the half. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed a 63-yard pass to split end Jarrett Boykin to the Vols’ 4-yard-line. The clock ticked down to zero. All of the Tennessee players left the field. But officials put two seconds back on the clock after checking replays, and the Vols were forced to come back out and watch Virginia Tech kick a gimme field goal, making it 17-14.

That was it. Virginia Tech scored 20 consecutive points in the second half. Suddenly, Atlanta wasn’t such a bad place.

259 comments Add your comment

Reid Adair

December 31st, 2009
11:16 pm

Nice work by Virginia Tech tonight against Tennessee. That play at the end of the first half definitely turned the game.

Happy New Year, Jeff.

cfb fan

December 31st, 2009
11:16 pm

Wow…do I get the dubious distinction of being the last ‘first’ of 2009?

AlabamaRamblinwreck

December 31st, 2009
11:31 pm

UT gets throttled by VPI!! How could this happen. UT was the team that throttled the mighty Mutts! UT was the team that came one blocked field goal from beating the mighty Tide on their home turf!! How could this happen. Someone in the SEC better look into this. VPI must have been playing with illegal players or something! LOL

Go Jackets!! Beat the Hock I’s!!

pilgrim

December 31st, 2009
11:34 pm

read “held” the Vols to 5 yards

Bud

December 31st, 2009
11:34 pm

Hey Kiffin … The ACC does’nt beat the SEC, you idiot. You better get it together or you’re gone (but please leave your wife)..

snapshot

December 31st, 2009
11:34 pm

ACC 2 and 0 against the mighty sec.

Dostoyevskiy

December 31st, 2009
11:39 pm

SEC goes from lack of humility to futility in bowl games.

jumbeauxtiger

December 31st, 2009
11:39 pm

Congrats to the Hokies on a great performance and a very good season. The Hokies shut down the Vols’ running game.

2010 will be a very interesting season in Big Orange country. I’m looking forward to them coming to Death Valley.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Don Johnson

December 31st, 2009
11:41 pm

Man, I was coming to Atlanta from Charlotte yesterday, and was shocked at the amount of VPI fans on I-85. They can drive worth a damn, but sure are loyal.

Don Johnson

December 31st, 2009
11:41 pm

Should read “can’t drive worth a damn.” Ironic, I guess, that I was trying to make that very point.

Dostoyevskiy

December 31st, 2009
11:42 pm

jumbeaux, UNC beat VaTech at their place, are you looking forward to playing UNC in the 1st game of the season. I think it should be a v. competitive game. LSU is a power, and UNC has a good defense and should be pretty good next year.

Jeff Schultz

December 31st, 2009
11:42 pm

Thanks Reid. Happy New Year.

The Man

December 31st, 2009
11:45 pm

Great Job Vols! 7-6 what a year. Didn’t deserve to be there . Team is getting wiped out. No QB coming back and Eric Berry is gone. Looks like another nail biter next year. Monte Kiffin’s combover did look fantastic in high def though. Can’t wait for the NCAA to nail there tails.

flagboy?

December 31st, 2009
11:45 pm

Kiffin is classless. As an UGA/SEC fan, they were the only team i didn’t want to see win in the bowls.

Hairy Dawg

December 31st, 2009
11:46 pm

The Hokies play in that second rate sorry ACC but the only thing they got right was the drawing by playing big moth Lame Kiffin and the stinky Vols. If the Hokies had to play a real teams in Peach Bowl like Dawgs then Hokies lose like before to Dawgs.

The Dawgs can whoop anything in ACC, and I am glad Hokies won againts the Lame Kiffin arrogant horse backside.

Dostoyevskiy

December 31st, 2009
11:46 pm

SEC=Tiger Woods – EXPOSED!

hind tit

December 31st, 2009
11:46 pm

did you see the respect kiffin had for beamer at midfield after the game.very disrespectful.

acc champs lose to 3rd rate dawgs

December 31st, 2009
11:49 pm

loved seeing ut go down tonight . . . VT should be an SEC team!!!!! Maybe we could trade Vandy for VT!!!!!!!!

acc champs lose to 3rd rate dawgs

December 31st, 2009
11:50 pm

what happened after the game with kitten and beamer?

flagboy?

December 31st, 2009
11:53 pm

apparently the hand shake was just that. . a handshake by Lane K, with no words, almost in passing.

I didn’t see it, but that appears to be it.

acc champs lose to 3rd rate dawgs

December 31st, 2009
11:54 pm

bellicheck (sP/?) would be proud

Stinger

December 31st, 2009
11:55 pm

Yeah Baby, ACC stomps another SEC team. Tenn looked like a high school team compared to Virgina Tech. Of course VT couldn’t handle the mighty jackets earlier this year. This makes the dawgs look pretty bad because they were absolutely demolished by the VOLs earlier this year. ACC is superior baby !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 37-14 could have been much worse.

pilgrim

December 31st, 2009
11:55 pm

1st week of 2010 – Falcons get consecutive W seasons, Tech gets a BCS win, and Georgia gets a top DC. Best two out of three?

flagboy?

December 31st, 2009
11:56 pm

ahhaha. yes, maybe Lane and Bill have been exchanging notes.

The Man

December 31st, 2009
11:56 pm

Dostoyevskiy,
VTech was the second best team in the ACC. Tennessee was mid-tier. Do you see VTech beating Florida or a couple other SEC schools. Probably not. Not a measuring stick for the ACC but a nice win. I hate Tennessee and Lane Kiffin.

Stinger

December 31st, 2009
11:57 pm

ACC has found a way to win bowl games. It’s simple, play the SEC.

Larry

December 31st, 2009
11:57 pm

Lane Kiffin is such a poor loser. Did you see him shove by Va Tech players and assistants who tried to say good game, mumble two words to Beamer, and storm off the field? There is losing with class and being a sore loser. Especially coming from a coach who is calling timeouts with a minute left in the game while down by 23. Kiffin continues to show why he’s not cut out to coach young men during these years in their lives.

hind tit

December 31st, 2009
11:58 pm

kitten didn’t even make eye contact with beamer.how can you play for a coach that doesn’t respect a great coach like beamer. he won’t last

kiffen is a baby

December 31st, 2009
11:58 pm

why would anyone want to play for this punk? Or have their kids play for him? Al Davis was right

Brooks

December 31st, 2009
11:58 pm

Stinger,
Remember LSU last year. Good luck getting wiped out by Iowa. Good to hear it’s not a blackout. GO DAWGS!! 30-24 all day baby.

Lane the helicopter recruiter

December 31st, 2009
11:59 pm

I LUV IT!!!! Lane buddy you had it comin.Now load up some hostesses jump in your chopper and go do some recruiting!!!

Red Dog 77

January 1st, 2010
12:01 am

Jeff, Like I said on the game blog, I have always had the greatest respect for the UT progrm, Even though I am a UGA grad, bleed RED and BLACK ,and want to beat them in the worst way when we play them, I am ashamed for the SEC tonight! I was pulling for UT all night ,and for Coach Kiffen to brush off a legend of a Coach, Coach Beamer after the game was a disgrace. I will always respect the good people of UT ,but this childish puke they have for a coach is not only bad for the SEC,He is bad for college football.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 1st, 2010
12:01 am

HAPPY NEW YEAR, all !!! Even you damn dawgs. LOL

flagboy?

January 1st, 2010
12:01 am

Seriously, is there anyone outside of the state of Tenn who wasn’t happy to see Va Tech win this one?

flagboy?

January 1st, 2010
12:02 am

Happy new year to all.

hope 2010 is good to everyone

hind tit

January 1st, 2010
12:03 am

get out the way man my choppers double parked.

SEC

January 1st, 2010
12:05 am

Wait, are ACC fans claiming their conference is better than the SEC? Everyone in the country knows the SEC reigns supreme. ACC fans will continue to dwell at the bottom of college football in the crumbling shadow of FSU.

Pen Ishuge

January 1st, 2010
12:06 am

Happy New Year! Tennessee is for skanks and ho’s! East Tennessee got no teeth! Smoked.

Pen Ishuge

January 1st, 2010
12:07 am

Red Dog 77

January 1st, 2010
12:07 am

PS ,congratulations to VA TECH and the ACC for a great win tonight! This from a genuine GEORGIA BULLDOG who still believes in good sportsmanship, and the true spirit of college football.

hind tit

January 1st, 2010
12:08 am

i know. it’s the coondog. it won’t hunt.

Pen Ishuge

January 1st, 2010
12:10 am

Happy New Year!

Red Dog 77

January 1st, 2010
12:13 am

Happy New Year to all even you pesky BEES ,good luck in the Orange Bowl.

Vince Dooley

January 1st, 2010
12:16 am

I don’t know what all my fans in dawg nation are talking about……but me being an intelligent coach and person there’s no argument about this……I’d take Tech’s 4 shinny National Championships any day over that silly one-on-one record between UGA and Tech…..just plain common sense I tell ya!

Red Dog 77

January 1st, 2010
12:16 am

What ya drinkin Pen Yeeler Jello shooters?

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

January 1st, 2010
12:17 am

Lame Kiffin showed the true brat that he really is when he would hardly shake hands with Coach Beamer after the game, much less look him in the eye like a real man and congratulate VT on a good game. What a no class butthead!

Vince Dooley

January 1st, 2010
12:19 am

spineless jelly fish that Lame Kiffin…..

Red Dog 77

January 1st, 2010
12:19 am

Vince, you and Pen must have gotten into the Yeller jello shooters together

flagboy?

January 1st, 2010
12:20 am

come on vince, you being a Dawg and all and saying you’re intelligent, you’re making us look foolish misspelling shiny as “shinny”. . geez, come on Vince, don’t embarass us in front of the tech people. .

oh. . wait. . . .nevermind.

outsider

January 1st, 2010
12:20 am

Red Dawg 77, at last a UGA fan who has class. I did not know you guys existed.