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Hokies rout Volunteers, 37-14, in Chick-fil-A Bowl

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 1, 2010

ATLANTA -- For Virginia Tech, 2009 was a whirlwind.

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The Hokies opened the calendar year with a win over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 that stirred high hopes for a talented and young team. They closed the year in a non-Bowl Championship Series game on Dec. 31 after those great expectations vanished during a three-loss regular season.

On Thursday, the No. 12 Hokies defeated Tennessee, 37-14, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to finish their year on a high and to set the stage for what could be a promising 2010 campaign.

"Us as seniors, we didn't have everything pan out the way we wanted to," linebacker Cody Grimm said. "But to go out like this means a lot to us."

Virginia Tech (10-3) won its fifth game in a row and joined Texas as the only programs in the country to compile a current streak of at least six consecutive 10-win seasons. The victory represented the school's first back-to-back bowl wins. Hokies fan chanted "ACC!" as the Virginia Tech struck a victory for the beleaguered Atlantic Coast Conference and got its first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2003.

"Tonight was important," cornerback Rashad Carmichael said. "It was a perfect way to finish our season."

With 117 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, freshman running back Ryan Williams broke Virginia Tech's single-season rushing record set by Kevin Jones in 2003. Williams has rushed for 1,655 yards this season, and with an emphatic performance in his final game, made a case for his Heisman Trophy candidacy heading into the 2010 season.

"He's for real," Coach Frank Beamer said of Williams, who did not play in the fourth quarter after spraining his ankle. "He's a great player."

Virginia Tech wore down the Volunteers (7-6) with weapons and dominated them with an engulfing defense. The Hokies recorded six sacks and limited Tennessee to just five yards rushing and 4 of 11 on third-down conversions.

Tennessee looked lifeless after halftime and most of its fans had left before the Hokies were reveled in the victory as confetti rained inside the dome. It was a drab ending to the highly anticipated meeting between schools that area separated by 230 miles but had played only seven times before Thursday.

But the first half did not disappoint. The Hokies went into halftime with a 17-14 lead after a dizzying display in the final minute of the half. The sequence featured a Tennessee interception that set up a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining, then Virginia Tech's go-ahead field goal after time was added to the clock after it appeared to expire.

The game turned on the play that set up the Hokies' field goal before halftime. Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin got behind the Tennessee secondary and quarterback Tyrod Taylor hit him for a 63-yard bomb to the Volunteers 4-yard line. Two seconds were added before place kicker Matt Waldron made a 21-yard field goal as time expired. The swing gave the Hokies momentum heading into the second half, and they did not let go of it.

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