Tide Overpower Hokies, Pull Away Late for 34-24 Win

Alabama (5) ...........   9   7   0  18 - 34
Virginia Tech (7) .....   7  10   0   7 - 24

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter
09:56 AL - Tiffin 49 yd Field Goal
06:57 AL - Tiffin 34 yd Field Goal
06:35 VT - Roberts 98 KO return (Waldron kick)
03:05 AL - Tiffin 32 yd Field Goal

2nd Quarter
08:39 VT - Waldron 28 yd Field Goal
03:09 AL - Upchurch 19 yd Rush (Tiffin Kick)
01:02 VT - Williams 1 yd Rush (Waldron Kick)

3rd Quarter
No scoring

4th Quarter
12:23 AL - Ingram 6 yd Rush (McElroy pass to Peek)
10:29 AL - Tiffin 20 yd Field Goal
09:22 VT - Williams 32 yd Rush (Waldron Kick)
06:35 AL - Ingram 18 yd Pass From Greg McElroy (Tiffin Kick)

Atlanta, GA — Virginia Tech led 17-16 heading into the fourth quarter of the Chick-fil-A
Kickoff Game, but Alabama blew up the Hokies for 18 fourth-quarter points and
won going away. The Tide overpowered the Hokies and leveraged huge margins in
time of possession, offensive plays, and total yards for the win.

Behind first-time starting QB Greg McElroy, the Tide pasted the Hokies for
498 yards, including 268 yards rushing. Tide running back Mark Ingram had a
career-high 150 yards rushing on 26 carries, and fellow tailback Roy Upchurch
had 90 yards on 7 carries. McElroy completed 15-of-30 passes for 230 yards, and
he had one touchdown and one interception.

Alabama superstar receiver Julio Jones had just 4 catches for 46 yards, but
the Tide successfully exploited poor pass coverage by Tech safety Kam Chancellor
and the Hokies’ young linebackers for completions to Alabama’s other receivers
and their tight ends.

Offensively, the Hokies struggled, gaining just 155 yards, fewer yards than
every opponent the Tide faced in the 2008 season. Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor
didn’t have a good night, completing just 9-of-20 passes for 91 yards. He was
sacked five times, and the Hokies had just 11 first downs to 22 for the Tide.
Alabama had the ball for 37 minutes to 23 for the Hokies, and ran 79 plays to Tech’s 51.

One bright spot for the Hokies was the play of starting tailback Ryan
Williams, who carried the ball 13 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns,
including a spectacular 32-yard TD that closed the gap to 27-24 midway through
the fourth quarter. Another star for Tech was kickoff returner Dyrell Roberts,
who scored Tech’s first touchdown on a 98-yard kickoff return and set up
Williams’s TD run with a long return.

Despite the huge statistical disparity, the Hokies stayed in this game
because their defense bent but did not break for most of the contest, and
because the Hokies got the touchdown from Roberts and hit another big play to
set up a short run by Williams.

The Tide leveraged good field position to two field goals and a 6-0 lead in
the first quarter. After the second field goal, Roberts fielded the kickoff at
the two yard line and found a seam on the left side. He burst through it, raced
up the sideline and stiff-armed the only Alabama player who had a shot at him,
then finished the return for a TD that made it 7-6, Hokies, with 6:35 to go in
the first quarter.

Alabama added another field goal after Ryan Williams muffed the fair catch of
a punt on the Hokie 15-yard line. Williams said after the game that he did not
feel comfortable fielding punts all preseason, and he deferred to true freshman
cornerback Jayron Hosley for the rest of the game.

The two teams traded a handful of punts into the second quarter, and then
Tide QB Greg McElroy, who was clearly rattled by the Hokie defense at this point
in the game, threw an interception deep in Tide territory. McElroy was blasted
by Tech defensive end Jason Worilds, and the ball floated to defensive tackle
Antoine Hopkins, who had dropped back in zone blitz coverage. Hopkins snagged
the ball out of the air and returned it to the Alabama 14-yard line.

The Hokie offense fizzled, picking up three yards, and Tech kicker Matt
Waldron punched in a 28 yard field goal for a 10-9 Hokie lead with 8:39 to go in
the first half.

Alabama went to the running game on their next drive and traveled 76 yards
for the touchdown. McElroy completed a pass to Jones for a critical first down
on 3rd and 12 around midfield in the drive, and Tide tailback Roy Upchurch ran
for a 19-yard TD over the left side that made it 16-10, Alabama.

The Hokies got good field position on the kickoff return when Dyrell Roberts
carried it out past the 30 and was horse-collar tackled for a penalty that
spotted the ball at the Tech 49-yard line. The Hokies got a big 47-yard
completion on a wheel route to Ryan Williams, who was tackled at the Tide 5-yard
line. Alabama threw Tyrod Taylor for a big loss after a bad pitch on the next
play, but Tide linebacker Rolando McClain committed a dead-ball personal foul
penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, putting the ball at the Alabama
4-yard line.

The Hokies punched it in three plays later, with Williams following guard
Sergio Render and fullback Kenny Younger into the end zone from one yard out,
for a 17-16 lead. Alabama drove smartly downfield at the end of the half, but
placekicker Leigh Tiffin missed a 36-yard field goal.

At half time, Alabama had outgained the Hokies 220 yards to 68, and had
outrushed the Hokies 126 yards to (-5). The kickoff return by Dyrell Roberts,
the interception by Antoine Hopkins, and the critical penalties on McClain had
enabled the Hokies to hold the lead.

The third quarter was scoreless, but it had drama. Alabama pinned the Hokies
deep in Tech territory, but a 57-yard punt by Hokie punter Brent Bowden got Tech
out of the hole; Tech stopped Alabama on third down, but an interference call on
Kam Chancellor gave the Tide new life; and Upchurch broke free on a run inside
the Tech 20 yard line, but whip linebacker Cody Grimm knocked the ball free from
behind for a key turnover.

The fourth quarter began with Alabama throwing an incomplete pass and
punting, and the Hokies took possession with a 17-16 lead and 14:46 to go. The
Hokies got one first down and punted, and then all hell broke loose. From their
own 46 yard line, Alabama completed a 48-yard pass to Marquis Maze, scored on a
6-yard run by Mark Ingram on the next play, and threw a two-point conversion to
tight end Colin Peek for a 24-17 lead.

Tech’s Davon Morgan fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Tide the ball at
the Hokie 21-yard line. Ingram ripped off a run to the 4-yard line, but the
Hokie defense stiffened and held the Tide to a field goal. With 10:31 to go, it
was 27-17, Alabama.

Dyrell Roberts had another great kickoff return, a 47-yarder close to
midfield, and Alabama hit him late out of bounds, spotting the ball at the Tide
37 yard line. After a short throw to Jarrett Boykin, Ryan Williams exploded
through the right side of the Hokie line, accelerated up the right sideline, and
leaped to the pylon for a 32-yard touchdown. The officials originally called him
down at the one yard line, but reviewed it and changed it to a touchdown.

That play made it 27-24 with 9:22 left, but the Tide manhandled the Hokies
after that. Alabama marched effortlessly up the field and scored on an 18-yard
pass play to Ingram. Ingram released from the backfield and beat linebacker Jake
Johnson, who had gotten caught in traffic in the middle after biting on
play-action. With 6:35 left, Alabama had the final margin of 34-24.

The Tech offense had two more possessions but failed to pick up a first down,
giving up two sacks in the process. The game ended with Alabama running out the
clock at the Hokie 14-yard line.

The loss puts the Hokies at 0-1 on the year and caps a dismal day for the
ACC, which saw two of its teams lose to 1-AA squads (William & Mary 26-14
over Virginia and Richmond 24-16 over Duke), and only one team notch a win over
a 1-A school (Clemson 37-14 over Middle Tennessee State).

The Hokies return to action next Saturday against the Marshall Thundering
Herd. The game is at 1:30 and will not be televised. It is a whiteout game; the
Hokies will wear white throwback uniforms, and Tech fans are requested to wear


                          AL          VT
                         ----        ----
First downs               22          11
Rushed-yards          49-268       31-64
Passing yards            230          91
Sacked-yards lost        2-5        5-38
Return yards             136         254
Passes               15-30-1      9-20-0
Punts                 5-44.8      8-45.6
Fumbles-lost             2-1         5-2
Penalties-yards        10-83        6-45
Time of possession     37:02       22:58
Att: 74,954


RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Williams 13-71, Oglesby 6-16, Coale 1-5,
Taylor 10-(-26), TEAM 1-(-2). Alabama, Ingram 26-150, Upchurch 7-90,
McElroy 5-28, Richardson 3-10, Grant 1-2, Maze 1-(-1), Jones 1-(-1),
TEAM 1-(-10).

PASSING-Virginia Tech, Taylor 9-20-91-0. Alabama, McElroy

RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, Boykin 3-19, Williams 2-42, Coale 2-16,
Oglesby 2-14. Alabama, Jones 4-46, Hanks 3-55, Peek 3-37, Ingram 3-35,
Maze 2-57.