On a night that will be remembered for Coach Frank Beamer’s questionable decision-making and an overturned touchdown catch by wide receiver Danny Coale in overtime that has Hokies fans seething this morning, perhaps the most tragic character in Virginia Tech’s heartbreaking 23-20 loss to Michigan on Tuesday in the 2012 Sugar Bowl was senior place kicker Justin Myer.
He missed wide right on a 37-yard field goal in overtime, his only mistake of the game after being called into duty because starting place kicker Cody Journell was arrested on felony breaking-and-entering charges two weeks ago and backup Tyler Weiss got sent home from New Orleans for breaking curfew.
On Michigan’s ensuing possession, place kicker Brendan Gibbons connected on his own 37-yard field goal to give the Wolverines a dramatic BCS bowl win.
Afterward, Myer sat in front of his locker at the Superdome and patiently answered questions from reporters about a game, and a moment, he won’t soon forget.
“I just pushed it. I mean, initially I thought I hit it good, but when I pulled my head up it was just one of those things that didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” Myer said. “It’s not the end-of-the-world type thing. It sucks right now, but eventually I’ll get over it. . . .
“Going in, this whole season, I didn’t expect to be put in this situation. I didn’t expect to be kicking field goals here in the Sugar Bowl.”
Myer, the team’s kickoff specialist throughout his career, connected on four of his five field goals Tuesday night, including a 25-yarder with two seconds remaining in regulation after quarterback Logan Thomas led the Hokies on an 11-play, 83-yard drive.
Many wondered how Myer, who has the strongest leg on the team, would handle the pressure of such a big-time game, especially because he had just two career field goal attempts to his credit coming into Tuesday – both came this year and both were misses.
All of his teammates, however, credited Myer with keeping them in the game as Virginia Tech struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the red zone. The Hokies had just one touchdown even though they had six possessions in which they moved the ball inside Michigan’s 20-yard line.
After all, it was only two weeks ago that Myer was third on the depth chart, with no idea he’d play such a central role in another BCS bowl game loss for Virginia Tech.
“For him to just keep us in the game, you can’t even get mad at him to miss that last one,” safety Eddie Whitley said. “He never did a field goal before. He did like two that were long. For him to knock all them down, especially at the end of the game, you can’t get mad at him because that’s not his job. That’s not what he do. He do kickoffs.”
“It didn’t come down to a field goal,” Coale added. “There were so many plays in that game. We should have capitalized on some points early on. [Myer] gave us points with those field goals when we should’ve had touchdowns. He played a helluva game stepping in there and nailing those field goals. It shouldn’t have been a field goal game.”
That, though, was little consolation for Myer, who made field goals from 37, 43, 36 and 25 yards. He said his approach was the same on his lone miss as his four previous kicks, even though Michigan Coach Brady Hoke called a timeout to try and ice him. This time, Myer just didn’t make the sort of contact he wanted to.
“It was a very exciting game, very back-and-forth, stressful, too,” Myer said. “I wish I would have come out on the winning end, but it was a fun game to be a part of.”
Beamer said he was proud of Myer’s effort.
“I told him he did a heck of a job,” Beamer said. “He said he didn’t quite get through that last one. But he did a nice job for us. I liked to have seen him make the last one.”