2006 Gator Bowl Recap: Seniors Give Hokies a Gator Bowl Win, 35-24

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Louisville (15)........  14   3  0  7 - 24
Virginia Tech (12)......  3   7  3 22 - 35

Scoring Summary:

1nd Quarter
10:57 UL - Urrutia 11 yard pass from Cantwell (Carmody kick)
06:04 VT - Pace 36 yd FG
02:53 UL - Tinch 39 yard pass from Cantwell (Carmody kick)

2nd Quarter
05:06 VT - Harper 33 yard pass from Vick (Pace kick)
02:32 UL - Carmody 35 yard FG

3rd Quarter
03:12 VT - Pace 28 yard FG

4th Quarter
13:37 UL - Barnidge 29 yd pass from Cantwell (Carmody kick)
13:04 VT - Humes 24 yd run (2 pt. conversion good)
06:09 VT - King 5 yd pass from Vick (Pace kick)
05:04 VT - Anderson 39 yard INT return (Pace kick)

Virginia Tech got three touchdowns from three different seniors in the fourth quarter and outscored the Louisville Cardinals 22-0 down the stretch to pull out a 35-24 victory in the Gator Bowl. The Hokies overcame deficits of 14-3 and 24-13 to pick up their 11th victory of the season, just the third time in school history they have accomplished that feat. Tech finishes the 2005 season with a record of 11-2, while the Cardinals finish with a 9-3 record.

This was an ugly game from the very beginning. The Hokies were hit with several personal foul penalties, All-American senior cornerback Jimmy Williams was ejected in the first quarter after a confrontation with an official, and Marcus Vick was caught on camera intentionally stomping at the leg of Louisville’s All-American defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Despite the ugly start, Virginia Tech was able to pull out the victory behind a balanced offensive performance and a defense that got better as the game went along.

Senior tailback Cedric Humes finished his Virginia Tech career with a bang, hammering the Louisville defense for 113 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Tech passing attack was not consistent until later in the game, and it was the running of Humes, as well as his backfield mate Branden Ore, that kept the Hokies in the game. Ore, a r-freshman, finished the game with 11 carries for 56 yards.

Marcus Vick was inconsistent for much of the game, but got it going late, especially in the fourth quarter. Vick completed 11-of-21 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception or fumble during the game. The Hokies did not turn the ball over at all, while the defense forced four Louisville turnovers.

The Virginia Tech defense made r-freshman quarterback Hunter Cantwell look like a deer in the headlights at times, intercepting three of his passes and forcing him to fumble once. Cantwell was harassed in the backfield by the Tech front seven for much of the game. The Hokies sacked him four times and hit him on numerous other occasions. At one point Cantwell was forced to leave the game because he was bleeding profusely from his nose. Virginia Tech sophomore defensive end Chris Ellis had two sacks on the day and forced a fumble. He also batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage.

Thanks to their dominate running game, the Hokies were able to control the clock. Tech held the ball for 36:20, while the Cardinals had possession for just 23:40. The Hokies ran the ball 47 times for 189 yards during the game, and finished with 392 yards of total offense. Louisville had 343 yards of offense during the game.


The Hokies got off to a bad start on the opening possession of the game. Louisville received the opening kickoff and after picking up one first down, it looked like the Tech defense had them stopped on their own 34 yard line. But Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino reached into his bag of tricks and called a fake punt, and backup tailback Kolby Smith carried the ball 30 yards to the Tech 36 yard line. The Cardinals drove the ball all the way to the Virginia Tech 11 yard line, where they faced a third and eight. Quarterback Hunter Cantwell then found wide receiver Mario Urrutia for an 11 yard touchdown pass over the middle. With 10:57 remaining in the first quarter, Louisville led 7-0.

Virginia Tech would respond on their next drive. Josh Morgan returned the kickoff to the Virginia Tech 32 yard line, and on the Hokies’ first play from scrimmage, Cedric Humes rumbled 12 yards up the middle to the 44 yard line. The Hokies would lose two yards on the next two plays, and on third and 12 Marcus Vick found Josh Hyman for a 24 yard gain to the Louisville 34 yard line.

Vick would lose a yard on a designed run, and was then sacked by Nate Harris for a seven yard loss. Facing third and 18, Vick found Hyman once again for a 20 yard gain to the Louisville 22 yard line. Those would be the only passes Hyman would catch during the game, but they were critical. The Virginia Tech drive would eventually stall, but Brandon Pace converted a 36 yard field goal attempt to make the score 7-3 with 6:04 left in the opening quarter.

The Cardinals would come right back on their second possession of the game by driving 80 yards for another touchdown. The drive was aided by a late hit penalty on Chris Ellis and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Noland Burchette. The penalties gave Louisville 30 free yards during the drive and they took advantage when Cantwell for a 39 yard touchdown pass with 2:53 left in the quarter. Louisville now led 14-3 and to make matters worse, Jimmy Williams was ejected for contact with an official following the extra point. The first quarter was not yet over, and the Hokies were already on their heels.

Louisville would not be able to take advantage of the situation. Both teams were forced to punt for several possessions in a row, and then the Hokies caught a break when Cantwell overthrew his intended receiver on a deep pattern and the pass was intercepted by cornerback Roland Minor. Minor returned the interception to the Tech 46 yard line and the Hokies were in business.

Marcus Vick found Jeff King down the middle for a 19 yard gain on third and 12, and two plays later he found Justin Harper sitting in the middle of the zone. Harper caught the pass, turned up field, eluded several defenders and eventually found the end zone from 33 yards out. The extra point by Brandon Pace was good, and the Hokies had trimmed the Louisville lead to 14-10 with 5:06 left in the second quarter.

The Cardinals would bounce back on their next possession, driving from their own 20 yard line to the Virginia Tech 18. They were eventually stopped by the Tech defense and had to settle for a 35 yard Arthur Carmody field goal with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter. The Hokies could get nothing going on their next possession, and Louisville took a 17-10 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was relatively quiet, except for one very impressive Virginia Tech drive that ended with a Brandon Pace field goal. The Hokies were pinned at their own one yard line following a Louisville punt with 11:26 left in the third quarter. The Hokies would embark on a 17 play drive that would take then all the way to the Louisville 11 yard line. Virginia Tech converted a third down during the drive, and also converted a fourth and one from the Louisville 22 yard line. The drive was highlighted by an 18 yard run from Marcus Vick. Brandon Pace kicked the 28 yard field goal with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter, and Louisville would take a 17-13 lead heading into the final quarter.

Louisville would strike very quickly in the fourth quarter on a two play drive. Starting at their own 42 yard line, Harry Douglas broke a 29 yard run to the Virginia Tech 29 yard line. On the next play Hunter Cantwell found Gary Barnidge running up the seam behind the linebackers for an easy 29 yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt from Carmody was good, and Louisville went up 24-13 with 13:37 remaining in the game.

Not willing to have their season end on a down note, the Hokies embarked on their own two play drive. Starting at their own 22 yard line, Marcus Vick found David Clowney deep over the middle for a 54 yard gain to the Louisville 24 yard line. Cedric Humes took the handoff on the next play and ran 24 yards up the middle for the touchdown, breaking several tackles on the way. The Hokies went for the two point conversion and were successful, with Vick hitting Josh Morgan right at the goalline.

Louisville looked poised to strike again on their next possession, driving all the way to the Virginia Tech 40 yard line. However defensive end Chris Ellis blew past the offensive line on third and three and sacked Cantwell for a seven yard loss. Cantwell fumbled on the play, and the fumble was recovered by Tech linebacker Xavier Adibi on the Tech 47 yard line.

The Hokies went for the jugular on the first play of the ensuing possession. Marcus Vick aired out a deep pass to David Clowney, which fell incomplete. However Louisville cornerback Rod Council was flagged for pass interference on the play, which gave the Hokies an automatic first down at the Louisville 38 yard line. Two plays later the Cardinals committed another pass interference penalty, this one by linebacker Nate Harris, and Tech advanced the ball to the 26 yard line.

Marcus Vick would later find Clowney for a 16 yard gain to the seven yard line, and two plays later he connected with Jeff King for a five yard touchdown pass. After the extra point, the Hokies found themselves on top for the first time in the game with 6:09 remaining, 28-24.

Another Virginia Tech senior, linebacker James Anderson, would put the dagger in Louisville’s heart on the next possession. Facing third and four from his own 36 yard line, Hunter Cantwell threw a pass to the outside, but Anderson picked it off with one hand, broke a tackle, and rumbled 39 yards for the game clinching touchdown with 5:04 remaining in the game.

Louisville would never seriously threaten again. Cantwell was intercepted once more, this time by r-freshman cornerback Brandon Flowers, who was playing in place of the ejected Jimmy Williams. Flowers’ interception sealed the game for the Hokies, who won their second Gator Bowl in five attempts.


                         VT         UL
                        ----        ----
First downs               21          20
Rushed-yards          48-187      30-127
Passing yards            203         216
Sacked-yards lost       3-28        4-30
Return yards              91         158
Passes               11-21-0     15-37-3
Punts                 6-50.0      4-46.2
Fumbles-lost             2-0         1-1
Penalties-yards         7-93        5-49
Time of possession     36:21       23.39
Att: 63,780


RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Humes 22-113, Ore 11-56, 
Vick 13-10, Harper 1-10, Team 1-(-2). UL, Bush 16-94, 
Smith 3-32,  Douglas 2-24, Stripling 3-13, Team 1-(-2),
Cantwell 5-(-34). 

PASSING-Virginia Tech, Vick 11-21-203.
UL, Cantwell 15-37-216-3. 

RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, King 3-27, Clowney 2-69,
Harper 2-62, Hyman 2-44, Royal 2-1. UL, Urrutia 6-95,
Tinch 3-55, Jones 3-22, Barnidge 1-29, Bush 1-8,
Douglas 1-7.
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