Taylor Leads Hokies in Late Comeback, Tech Wins 16-15

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Nebraska (19) ........   3  9  0  3 - 15
Virginia Tech (13) ...   7  3  0  6 - 16

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter
11:15 VT - Williams 1 yd run (Waldron kick)
00:56 NU - Henery 40 yd FG

2nd Quarter
12:49 NU - Henery 27 yd FG
05:23 NU - Henery 19 yd FG
02:30 VT - Waldron 39 yd FG
00:18 NU - Henery 38 yd FG

3rd Quarter
No scoring

4th Quarter
04:33 NU - Henery 38 yd FG
00:21 VT - Roberts 11 yd pass from Taylor (Waldron)

Blacksburg, VA – Tyrod Taylor hit Dyrell Roberts in the back of the endzone with 21 seconds remaining for the winning touchdown, as #13 Virginia Tech pulled off an improbable come from behind win to beat #19 Nebraska 16-15 on Saturday. The Hokies improved to 2-1 with the win, while Nebraska dropped to 2-1.

Nebraska led 15-10 late in the game, and after the Virginia Tech offense put up a total of four yards in the third quarter, a victory seemed almost impossible. Facing second and six from his own 16, Tyrod Taylor hit Danny Coale down the right sideline for an 81 yard gain to the Nebraska three. Nobody was open early in the play, but Taylor kept the play alive with his feet, and Coale slipped by Nebraska free safety Matt O’Hanlon, and Taylor hit him in stride.

Taylor was sacked on first down, and threw incomplete to Greg Boone on second down. On third down, Taylor rolled to his left, then rolled to his right, and no one was open. He finally found Dyrell Roberts in the back of the endzone, and his bullet pass was hauled in with 21 seconds remaining. Tech’s two point conversion attempt was no good, but Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee was intercepted by Rashad Carmichael on the final play of the game to seal the win for the home team.

The Hokies were outgained by Nebraska 343-278. Nebraska tailback Roy Helu, Jr. ran for 169 yards on 28 carries. This is the first time since the 2002 season that the Hokies have allowed three straight 100 yard rushers.

Tailback Ryan Williams gained 107 yards on 23 carries, and had a touchdown in his third consecutive game. Williams now has six rushing touchdowns on the year. Tyrod Taylor was 12-of-27 for 192 yards, with the final touchdown pass for Dyrell Roberts. He did not throw any interceptions. The 192 yards was the third-highest total of his career, surpassing his 2008 game against Nebraska when he threw for 177 yards.

Virginia Tech’s passing game continued to struggle until the final drive of the game. There were dropped passes by the receivers, and the Hokies allowed four sacks to a team who had just four sacks in their first two games combined against Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. Overall, the passing game doesn’t look in synch, and it will need to improve between now and next week when Miami rolls to town.

The touchdown catch by Dyrell Roberts was a redeeming moment for the true sophomore receiver. On Tech’s previous possession, Roberts dropped a fourth and nine pass with 2:07 remaining in the game.

Virginia Tech’s defense bent on Saturday, but it didn’t break. The Hokies allowed almost 350 yards of offense, but they never allowed Nebraska to score a touchdown. The Cornhuskers appeared to score at one point during the second half, but Zac Lee’s pass to Mike McNeill was called back for holding. It turned out to be a critical play in the game.

Though the Hokies didn’t do a good job stopping the run, they made life difficult for Zac Lee, who was making his first road start. Lee was just 11-of-30 for 136 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Recap

The game started out very well for Virginia Tech. Dyrell Roberts returned the opening kickoff to the Nebraska 24, and the Hokies were in business. However, a tackle for loss and a sack, plus a penalty, pushed Tech back to the Nebraska 34, where they faced third and 20. Tyrod Taylor then made one of his best passes of the game, hitting Xavier Boyce for 21 yards on a deep out down the left sideline.

The Hokies then handed off to Ryan Williams for three straight plays, and he eventually plowed his way into the endzone from three yards out, making the score 7-0 Virginia Tech with 11:15 in the first quarter. They scored a touchdown on their opening possession, and they didn’t reach the endzone again until their final possession.

Nebraska rallied behind three straight field goals from placekicker Alex Henery. His third field goal of the half made the score 9-7 Nebraska with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter. Another big play by Virginia Tech, this time a 46 yard run from Ryan Williams, set the Hokies up for a 39 yard field goal from Matt Waldron. His field goal put Virginia Tech back up 10-9 with 2:30 left in the half.

However, it was Nebraska who got the final points of the half. The Cornhuskers went 50 yards in five plays, and a 38 yard field goal from Henery put his team up 12-10 heading into the halftime intermission.

The third quarter was a forgettable one for the Hokies. They had just four yards of total offense, and though Nebraska did not score during that quarter, things were looking bleak for the home team. Things didn’t improve through most of the fourth quarter, and Alex Henery’s fifth field goal of the game made the score 15-10 with 4:33 remaining.

The Hokies were lucky that Nebraska only scored three points in the third quarter. The Cornhuskers self-destructed on one drive in the third quarter, and it ended up being the difference in the game. Zac Lee hit tight end Mike McNeill for a six yard touchdown pass on first down, but the play was called back for holding. Nebraska then faced first and goal from the Tech 16, where they were promptly called for a false start.

The Cornhuskers weren’t finished melting down. Another holding call and another false start eventually pushed them back even further, and Nebraska was forced to punt on fourth and goal from the 37. Not only did the penalties cost them a touchdown, but it also pushed them out of field goal range in a game they eventually lost by one point.

Tech still had a chance when they got the ball back on their own 20 with 4:33 remaining, but it seemed they would have to get things done on that drive or they would run out of time. The Hokies picked up a first down on a pass from Taylor to Greg Boone, and then Taylor found Jarrett Boykin for a 14 yard strike for another first down. The Hokies had a first down at their own 45, and they appeared to be in good shape.

However, the drive bogged down, and Taylor’s fourth and nine pass to Dyrell Roberts was dropped. Roberts beat man-to-man coverage to the inside on a slant, and he probably would have scored on the play, but he couldn’t haul in the pass. Nebraska took over on the Tech 46 with 2:07 left in the game. The Hokies had all their timeouts left, but with the way the Cornhuskers were running the ball, it didn’t look like it would matter.

Bud Foster’s defense came through however, and Frank Beamer put those timeouts to good use. Nebraska punted on fourth and one from the Tech 37. It seemed like a good call at the time. The Hokie offense hadn’t accomplished much in the second half, and forcing them to drive the length of the field appeared to be the correct decision.

It didn’t turn out to be that way. Tech took over at their own 17, and after getting sacked for a one yard loss on first down, Taylor found Danny Coale down the right sideline for an 81 yard pass to the Nebraska three. It was Virginia Tech’s longest pass play since the 2002 Syracuse game, when Bryan Randall hit Ernest Wilford and Keith Willis for two 87 yard gains.

According to Tyrod Taylor’s postgame interview, a quarterback draw was called on first and goal from the three, but Taylor was hit for an eight yard loss. Taylor’s second down pass to Greg Boone sailed out of the back of the endzone, and the Hokies faced third and goal from the 11 with 33 seconds remaining.

Tyrod Taylor made things happen on third down. He rolled left, found nobody open, and then rolled right. With Nebraska defenders closing in, he fired a rocket to Dyrell Roberts in the back of the endzone, and Roberts came away with the catch with 21 seconds left. Taylor managed to burn 12 seconds off the clock while buying time with is feet, and as a result of his pass to Roberts, the Hokies took a 16-15 lead.

Virginia Tech went for the two point conversion, but Taylor threw the ball out of the back of the endzone when he couldn’t find an open receiver. The Hokies kicked off to Nebraska with 21 seconds left, and Rex Burkhead was brought down by Zach Luckett on the Nebraska 15.

Quarterback Zac Lee completed a 19 yard pass to Niles Paul on first down, but his next pass was deflected and intercepted by Rashad Carmichael. Carmichael returned the interception six yards before falling to the ground as the clock ran out, preserving the big win.

The Hokies return to action next Saturday when they host the Miami Hurricanes, who are fresh off wins against ranked opponents (at the time of the game) Florida State and Georgia Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm, and the game will be televised by ABC.


STATISTICS

                          NU          VT
                         ----        ----
First downs               18          11
Rushed-yards          36-207       37-86
Passing yards            136         192
Sacked-yards lost        0-0        4-25
Return yards             172         120
Passes               11-30-2     12-27-0
Punts                 6-41.5      8-46.9
Fumbles-lost             0-0         0-0
Penalties-yards         9-60        7-53
Time of possession     29:46       30:14
Att: 66,233

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 

RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Williams 21-107, Oglesby 3-7,
Roberts 1-(-2), Wilson 3-(-4), Taylor 9-(-22). NU, Helu Jr. 28-169,
Lee 8-38.

PASSING-Virginia Tech, Taylor 12-27-192-0. NU, Lee 11-30-136-2.

RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, Boykin 4-43, Coale 2-89, Boyce 1-21,
Wheeler 1-14, Roberts 1-11, Jefferson 1-7, Boone 1-5, Williams 1-2.
NU, Helu Jr. 4-33, Brooks 2-16, Gilleylen 1-35, Paul 1-19,
Burkhead 1-16, Holt 1-13, McNeill 1-4.



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