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Recap: Hokies vs. Wahoos Frank Beamer's Not Done Quite Yet

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The Hokies hang in and as the Wahoos turn it up, Tech matches them point for point, drive for drive, until Joey Slye buries a 41 yarder for the final three. Chuck Clark picks off Matt Johns in the final minute. Frank Beamer does a bit of happy dabbing as the 2015 Hokies wrap the season with a win and a wait for word on what bowl will be coming their way. We know we have a new coach, but we still have one more to win for Frank.

Touchdown! Sam Rogers starts the 4th quarter scoring burst to answer the Hoos.
Touchdown! Sam Rogers starts the 4th quarter scoring burst to answer the Hoos.
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

It was an overcast Saturday at noon sitting in B-Dubs with my daughter, Joe R-S, and Joshua.  We left NOVA at just before 7:00 and made it to Blacksburg at just before 11:00.  Well, the hope had been to go to Hooville to catch the game live, but the wallet and the clock really didn't allow for the detour.  So there we sat with the growing crowd watching the first half of the last regular season game for Frank Beamer's Hokies.  You see, before Frank (will that be BF now?)  we were just the Fighting Gobblers.  The "Hokie" think was still "Old Hokie" and though the brand was established the bird was still not quite the same, and the national image wasn't much better looking.

In the BF, we weren't much of anything, and we certainly had our fits playing our in-state rival Cavaliers.  One year, the Wahoo marching band (scramble band, actually) in their spiffy topsiders, blue blazers, untucked alligator golf shirts and khakis formed up to play the Budweiser theme song as a big can of beer.  The football game, was not a happy affair that year.  We lost.

But we won a few, tied a few, and our extended family from Charlottesville always showed up to make it a game, no matter how bad either team was.  That was before Welsh and Beamer changed the tone of the contest.  It was always a feud, but usually pretty good natured and never really consequential; that was Before Beamer.

There was so much on the line for this one.  It was Frank's last defense of the Commonwealth Cup, sure.  It was also the upgrade to certain bowl eligibility, okay, that's important for the program and the cash flow.  It was important because it put us off the floor of the ACC Coastal.  It also did something else that we as a team and fan base needed.  It gave us a win at the end of another disappointing .500 season.

How we got that win might actually attract a few bits of attention that will give us a better position for something other than a Christmas week exhibition bowl at a time where no one will see or care.  An upgraded bowl means better draft attention for the seniors, and it means some real encouragement for those players coming back to a decidedly different program next season.

Which brings us back to the main floor of the dine-in area of B-Dubs.  Blacksburg was relatively empty for the last day of Thanksgiving.  But the crowd was enthusiastic, and Tech getting the opening kickoff got everyone's blood flowing immediately.  The coverage happened so fast.  It went from commercial to kick-off with virtually no prep time.

Instead of doing what we usually do when handed the ball first, namely tank three plays and punt, Brewer hit several really nice passes, and other than a stall out that required the services of football hating Joey Slye for the 48 yard clean-up three.  The kick was from the right hash, and split the uprights with room to spare.

Unfortunately, the Wahoos took the kickoff on a methodical yard nibbling march down the field assisted by a few frustrating Virginia Tech penalties.  Tech finally got the stop, and Virginia had to settle for a game tying field goal.

There isn't much to say about the next 2 quarters of football.  There were punts, and then more punts, and then there was a punt.  The monotony of the punting dual was only punctuated by two more field goals, one for each team, and the game ended the first half with a 6 to 6 tie on the board, and two frustrated and ineffective offenses headed to their respective locker rooms.   Of course the first shift at the restaurant also headed out to go find other places to watch the game, including our little gang.  So Joe headed back home, and the three Schneiders headed to my youngest Hokie's apartment to catch the game in the comfort of her apartment.  We listened to the third quarter on the radio in the car.

Of course we missed Adonis Alexander's fourth pick of the season; but the offense did nothing with that feat of #DBU thievery.  The TV was on for the remainder of the game, and was maddeningly about a minute behind the live feed.  So, everyone put their phones away and we went back to watching the punting duel.  The only 3rd quarter excitement came from a missed Cavalier field goal.  It was looking like an omen from beyond that we were doomed to go to another overtime with more opportunities to kick more field goals as neither offense seemed to make any sort of headway; until disaster happened.

With about 1:40 left in the 3rd, Cavalier Tailback Albert Reid caught a seam off the right hand side of the Tech defense (which was struggling with containment all game) and gashed us for a 57 yard touchdown run.  The funny thing is that the touchdown didn't take the air out of the Hokie tires, it seemed to put nitrous into the fuel stream of the offense.

Michael Brewer hit Ryan Malleck up the right seam (who took Hulk pills and creamed the Virginia defensive back) for a break away 71 yard run down to the UVA 4 yard line.  After a stuffed 1 yard run by McMillian and a break for the end of the quarter; Brewer hit Sam Rogers on a nice rollout seam pitch and catch.  Rodgers took the ball into the end zone and after the PAT we were tied up again.  This time at 13 to 13.

That wouldn't last because the Hoos then took the ball down the field for a pretty decisive touchdown drive capped by a 27 yard pass to Canaan Severin.  The TD was initially called an incomplete pass, but the review showed it to be a solid touchdown, and that also would be the last points that UVA would score for the game.

Tech answered that touchdown with a convincing and very quick six play drive featuring 70 yards of passing in two nice strikes to Isaiah Ford.  The Hokies just would not go away.  We were back to a tie game at 20-20, and somehow the defense had finally figured out how to stop UVA's offense.  Well, they had one more time to prove it before anyone could bray about how well they played, today.

The Wahoos couldn't move the ball on the next series, and punted.  Virginia Tech then methodically moved from its own 20 for an 11 play five minute clock burning drive that resulted in a Joey Slye 41 yard upright splitting field goal from the right hash mark.  The problem was that there was still 1:44 left in a game where UVA had several explosive long plays that Tech had great difficulty stopping.

The next three plays were for the record books, or at least two of them.  The first was a four yard sack fumble forced by Ken Ekanum (who was repeatedly mugged, again today) that was unfortunately grabbed in midair by a Wahoo Offensive lineman who rumbled for 7 after catching the surprise.  UVA QB Matt Johns hit a nice 12 yard pass to Keeon Johnson, and the old déjà vu feeling began to well up as the chances for a game tying field goal loomed ever greater.   That's when Chuck Clark stepped in between Johns and his receiver for a clean pick that ended the UVA comeback effort with less than a minute left in regulation, and the season for both teams.

Tech was sighted for an unsportsmanlike penalty for excessive happiness and excitement on the sideline and field.  You can't enjoy winning the game too much it would look untoward and showy, don't you know?

For the numbers minded here are the end stats for the game from Yahoo Sports:

Category

Virginia Tech

Virginia

First Downs

13

20

Total Yards

304

426

Turnovers

1

2

First Downs

13

20

Passes for First

8

9

Rushes for First

4

11

Penalties for First

1

0

Third Down Efficiency

3-13

8-18

Fourth Down Efficiency

0-0

0-1

Total Yards

304

426

Total Plays

59

78

Avg Gain Per Play

5.2

5.5

Net Yards Rushing

67

255

Rushes

30

40

Yards Per Rush

2.2

6.4

Net Yards Passing

237

171

Comp-Att

15-29

18-38

Yards Per Pass

8.2

4.5

Times Sacked

1

3

Yds Lost To Sacks

-4

-28

Interceptions

1

2

Punts

8

6

Punt Average

0.0

0.0

Penalties

3

9

Penalty Yards

35

65

Fumbles

1

1

Fumbles Lost

0

0

The Odds and Ends of all of this:

There are just so many emotions that come to mind and heart after this game.  There was the vague disappointment that this game meant so much for more than rivalry and pride purposes.  The fact that once again, Virginia Tech was playing for its post season life on the very last game of the season as it struggled to another frustrating .500 season.

That is tempered by a really wonderful result for this game, a win.  It wasn't convincing in any other way than we just wouldn't give up.  The Hokies kept fighting and scrapping, eventually getting a critical defensive stop, and then a game capping field goal.

There were more than a few heroes and goats to go around for this game. We won't mention the goats, the team won and they were also heroes in their own way.  We will mention some really super performances today.  There should be something special in Joey Slye's Christmas stocking this year.  His leg was critical in this game.  Every one of his field goals was for over 40, and most were over 45.  Then there was Michael Brewer.  I know, I know... it's the QB, why give QB's more love?  Well, did anyone notice that young Mr. Brewer was crushed several times?  He was hit so many times that I thought that he was going to spend the remainder of the game as a bloody lump of broken bones on the bench.  Brewer would have absolutely none of it.  There were times when I wondered how his arm actually worked at all.  His cool headed execution kept us in the game, and his working every last minute of clock before we finally had to get Joey to clobber a football for 3 for the last scoring play of the game should be remembered by all Hokies as an example of how not to give up.  Then there is Isaiah Ford, who was Brewer's principle target late in the game.  Ryan Malleck, who's been patiently doing the blocking duty, and suddenly found himself with an opportunity to make a huge difference, and did.  There was Sam Rogers, doing Sam Rogers things, like running the ball as a fill in tailback, or going out for a touchdown pass in a critical situation.

The defense had its tough moments but when it came down to the end and the critical stop, it made the difference.  There was Dadi, coming off the bench from his half game suspension to lift the defense to the next level that it needed so that it could put heavy pressure on Johns late in the game.  There was Ken Ekanum who finally got regular heavy pressure on the quarterback.  Finally there were Adonis Alexander and Chuck Clark who snuffed drives and Wahoo hopes by picking the ball off to end drives.

Then there was Coach Frank Beamer, dabbin' at the end of the game, and being carried off by his boys.  You know, they are all like his kids.  Some coaches have that way about them.  They really care about the players as people, and really feel like they are a family.  That's how Frank Beamer has done it for all these years.  His kids stepped up, today.  They impressed some folks, and let's see if that bowl bid gets a bit better than something nobody ever heard of before.

Next up!  The __________ Bowl.  Going to be interesting, and really fun this year.   Next year a bunch changes. For now, let's concentrate on the next game and get one more for Frank.

Sources:

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/virginia-tech-hokies-virginia-cavaliers-201511280008/

http://espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=400756998