One play before Myer’s miss, wide receiver Danny Coale made what appeared to be a spectacular one-handed, 20-yard touchdown catch but officials overturned the call after review because Coale never had possession of the ball. The Hokies didn’t necessarily agree with the ruling.
“They had called it a touchdown on the field so I thought it would’ve been hard to overturn,” Coale said of the play. “But they saw some things and overturned it and it was in the ref’s hands. What can you do?”
Added running back David Wilson, who was the closest player to Coale in the end zone: “Football is a game of inches and Danny Coale was inches away from that definitely being a touchdown, even though the whole Hokie nation might’ve thought it was a touchdown.”
The end of regulation had its own controversy, and it also involved Coale.
With the score tied at 17 and seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Beamer called a timeout and shocked everyone in the Superdome, including his own fans: He gave Coale the option to punt the ball or run it on fourth down. The plan backfired when Coale found himself swarmed by Michigan defenders.
The Episcopal High graduate took the blame afterwards saying he should have punted the ball when he saw defenders charging towards him. But as a result of Beamer’s decision, Michigan (11-2) needed to gain just 23 yards to set up Gibbons for a 39-yard field goal that gave the Wolverines a 20-17 lead with four minutes remaining in regulation.
But then Virginia Tech (11-3) showed the sort of resiliency that had evaded it in the past during these sorts of moments. Quarterback Logan Thomas led an 11-play, 83-yard drive, and Myer hit a 25-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
Thomas finished 19 of 28 for 214 yards and added 53 yards and a touchdown on the ground to surpass Tyrod Taylor’s school record for total offense in a single season. Wolverines senior wide receiver Junior Hemingway, who caught two touchdown passes, was named the game’s MVP.
The loss was particularly devastating considering the Hokies faced a wave of criticism about being selected to the Sugar Bowl, as many felt there were more worthy teams. Sugar Bowl officials said they selected Virginia Tech because of how well its fan base travels to bowl games, but there were large swaths of empty seats in Superdome’s upper deck Tuesday and the announced attendance was 64,512, nearly 12,000 short of capacity.