Virginia Tech Airs It Out Late to Beat Nebraska, 16-15

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 20, 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 19 -- When it was over, some Virginia Tech fans lay on the grass and soaked it in. Others patted the Hokies players on the shoulder pads. A large throng gathered to jump up and down in front of the television cameras.

After a finish that will live as one of the indelible moments in Virginia Tech lore, there was truly a reason to celebrate: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor had just led the Hokies 88 yards to the end zone in less than two minutes to give No. 13 Virginia Tech a 16-15 win over No. 19 Nebraska.

Down by five points with 1 minute 44 seconds remaining, Taylor led a march that will not soon be forgotten. On second and six, Taylor connected with Danny Coale on an 81-yard bomb that brought the Hokies to Nebraska's 3-yard line. With 21 seconds left, Taylor connected with Dyrell Roberts on an 11-yard touchdown pass that drove the crowd of 66,233 into hysterics.

"We work on this in practice all the time, the two-minute drill," Taylor said. "It just worked out in our favor."

The last time Virginia Tech had come from behind to win in the final minute was in 1999, when quarterback Michael Vick marshaled the Hokies down the field in a 22-20 victory at West Virginia. Shayne Graham won the game on a 44-yard field goal.

Asked if Saturday's game was among the greatest comebacks of his career, Coach Frank Beamer said, "It has to be right up there."

But before the scintillating finish, it was a sluggish affair bogged down by 16 combined penalties.

Virginia Tech (2-1) failed to gain traction offensively for most of the afternoon. The Hokies' offensive line was overpowered by Nebraska's imposing defensive front and their wide receivers dropped passes. Taylor was not crisp; he threw for 192 yards, completing 12 of 27 passes. But when it mattered in the end, Taylor made the difference.

"Bottom line, we don't win this game without a quarterback as athletic as Tyrod who can keep a play alive," Beamer said. "We don't win this game without Tyrod."

Although the Hokies' defense stiffened with its back against the wall, the Cornhuskers (2-1) likely would have scored more had they not committed so many penalties with the ball deep in Virginia Tech's territory.

"This is one of those games that could turn things around," Beamer said, "if you build on it and learn from it."

The Hokies got off to an auspicious start. Roberts returned the opening kickoff 76 yards to the Nebraska 24-yard line. Seven plays later, running back Ryan Williams scored to give Virginia Tech a 7-0 lead. But before the final moments, that was the only time either team reached the end zone in an offensively deficient display.

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