There was a time not all that long ago when Virginia Tech’s Cody Journell didn’t even know if he’d be allowed to kick for the Hokies ever again. But after missing on last season’s Sugar Bowl because of legal issues, Journell’s right foot delivered Virginia Tech its 20th straight bowl appearance with a clutch kick for the second time in two weeks.
Journell’s 29-yard field goal as time expired gave the Hokies a dramatic 17-14 win over Virginia.
The redshirt junior started off the season by nailing a 17-yard field goal in overtime to lift Virginia Tech to a victory over Georgia Tech, and he connected on a career-long 41-yard attempt that sent last week’s game at Boston College to overtime.
“I feel blessed being able to come back and play with all my brothers on this team again,” said Journell, who also connected on a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to ensure the Georgia Tech game went to overtime. “The coaches have my back and the way this season has gone, I couldn’t have asked for it to go even better. Me being able to put us in the position to go to a bowl game again is great.”
If you need a refresher, Journell was arrested last December for felony breaking and entering over a botched drug deal. He later had the charges dropped to misdemeanor trespassing and needed to be reinstated by Athletic Director Jim Weaver before rejoining the team this past August.
He has refused to speak to reporters about the incident since coming back, but it hasn’t affected his play very much. After earning honorable mention all-ACC honors a year ago, Journell has made 19 of his 21 field goals this season. He is also now 5 for 5 on game-tying, lead-changing or game-winning field goals in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, according to Virginia Tech’s sports information department.
“Awesome for Cody, coming back from everything he’s been through the last year. To put us back into a bowl game, I can’t even imagine what he’s going through right now,” linebacker Jack Tyler said of Journell.
It probably felt even better considering Journell missed a 42-yard attempt that would have given Virginia Tech the lead with 3 minutes 38 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game. With winds that were blustering up to 30 mph, Journell said he tried to aim that first kick at the left upright, except “the wind never moved the ball.”
He ended up hooking the kick wide left. To make matters worse, his game-winning kick came after Virginia Coach Mike London called two timeouts to ice him. But when Journell lined up that second time, he thought to himself: “Whatever. I’m just gonna kick it as hard as I can.”
“Being a kicker you kind of get used to that,” Journell said of London’s icing. “You just got to attack it a little bit. It was a little different today. It took me away from the heater for a little while. I felt like my legs were freezing. You can’t expect it because that will throw you off, too, if they don’t call a timeout. You just got to go through the motions like you do every kick.”
***We know for sure Journell’s kick sent Virginia Tech to a bowl game. Which one, though, is anyone’s guess and a sure-fire answer won’t come until next Sunday.
There’s an outside chance the Hokies could be selected for the Chick-fil-A Bowl if Clemson beats South Carolina on Saturday, receives an at-large bid to a BCS bowl game and the Chick-fil-A folks bypass North Carolina State, which played in Atlanta to begin the season. If Clemson loses or doesn’t get selected to a BCS game, Virginia Tech is most likely destined for the Russell Athletic, Sun, Belk or Music City Bowls.
Confusing enough for you? I’ll have more in the coming days on Virginia Tech’s bowl situation once I sort through all the possibilities. Just know that there are six ACC teams that are bowl eligible after Saturday’s games (Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Duke) and the pecking order for the ACC goes:
2)Chick fil A Bowl
3)Russell Athletic Bowl
6)Music City Bowl