Hokies Fall to Michigan in a Game Filled with Mistakes

, TechSideline.com, on January 4, 2012
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The Hokies did everything they were supposed to do. They showed up, they played a good game, and they completely shut down Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense. Unfortunately, they failed to win the game. Robinson and the Wolverines won 23-20 in overtime.

Justin Myer kicked four field goals during regulation, but missed a critical 35 yarder during overtime, which set the Wolverines up with a game-winning shot, which they converted.

Virginia Tech dominated this game from start to finish, and it will forever be remembered by Hokie fans as a game of “what if?”. The Hokies appeared to easily be the better team, but it didn’t show up that way on the scoreboard.

Tech outgained Michigan 377 to 184. Bud Foster’s defense completely dominated Denard Robinson and the Wolverine rushing game. Robinson ran for 13 yards on 13 carries, while starting tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint had 30 yards on 13 carries. Robinson was just 9-of-21 for 117 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.

David Wilson had 24 carries for 82 yards, but he had a critical 22 yard loss on Virginia Tech’s first drive. On first and goal from the Michigan four, Wilson ran right, was stopped for a two yard loss, but instead of going down he went backwards for an incredible loss of 22 yards. The Hokies had to settle for a 37 yard field goal from Justin Myer. Myer made field goals of 37, 43, 36 and 25 yards during regulation.

Tech led the game 6-0 until late in the second quarter, and then an unfortunate sequence of events took place that ultimately led to the loss. The Hokies went for it on fourth and one from the Michigan four, but the quarterback sneak by Logan Thomas was stopped. Going for the first down seemed to be a good call at the time, because the Hokies were dominating the game, but in hindsight it turned out to be a bad call.

The Hokies had Michigan stopped on the Wolverine 26, but a roughing the punter penalty on James Hopper kept the drive alive. On third and 17 from the Tech 45, Denard Robinson was pressured by Kyle Fuller, and threw up a prayer down the right sideline. The pass was a terrible decision, one of several by Robinson on the night, but Eddie Whitley missed the interception by a couple of inches. It landed in the hands of Junior Hemingway, and after Whitley’s diving attempt also took out Antone Exum, Hemingway scored untouched to make the score 7-6 Michigan.

45 of Michigan’s 184 yards came on one play, and it only got worse for the Hokies. With only 49 seconds left on the clock on the ensuing field goal, Tony Gregory fumbled the kickoff, which gave the Wolverines a free field goal before half time. Michigan led 10-6 heading into the intermission.

Virginia Tech’s first drive of the second half also led to Michigan points. The Hokies went with a Logan Thomas rollout to the ride, and Michigan true freshman defensive end Frank Clark, who had just five tackles on the season, made a terrific leaping play on the interception just a few yards in front of Thomas. Most of last night’s Sugar Bowl is about Virginia Tech not taking advantage of opportunities despite outplaying Michigan, but this particular instance was an incredible play by Clark.

After a pass interference penalty on Jayron Hosley, Denard Robinson made a great throw in the back of the endzone to to Junior Hemingway, who hauled in the 18 yard touchdown. Hemingway’s two touchdowns were his only two receptions all night. Robinson had a bad game overall, but that touchdown pass will be one of the highlights of his career.

At that point it was 17-6, and the Virginia Tech defense didn’t allow a touchdown without help from either a special teams penalty, a special teams turnover or an interceptions.

However, the game wasn’t without more drama in overtime. Virginia Tech faked a punt with Danny Coale from the Michigan 48 on fourth and one with Danny Coale. Michigan didn’t buy it, and Coale was stopped for a seven yard loss at the Tech 45. The Wolverines added a 39 yard field goal to take a 20-17 lead with four minutes left in the game.

Logan Thomas led the Hokies down the field, and Myer tied the game with a 25 yard field goal, and the game went to overtime. In overtime, a great throw and catch between Logan Thomas and Danny Coale in the corner of the endzone went for a touchdown, but the play was overturned because the replay official said Coale didn’t have control of the football. Justin Myer’s 37 yard field goal missed wide right, while the Wolverines connected on their own 37 yard field goal in overtime to win the game.

After the disappointing loss, the Hokies ended their season 11-3.

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