In a season that Virginia Tech fans will remember for all the losses, Thursday night’s 28-22 defeat to No. 8 Florida State will hurt the worst. Because there is little doubt Virginia Tech put together its best performance of the year.
Bud Foster’s defense was suffocating for more than 59 minutes, holding Florida State to a season-low 311 total yards, sacking quarterback E.J. Manuel a season-high times and limiting the Seminoles to minus-15 yards rushing. That’s Florida State’s lowest total since at least 1973 (that’s as far back as the Seminoles record book goes).
Facing the No. 1 defense in the country, Virginia Tech’s offense even emerged — at least in spurts — from a two-game funk. The Hokies connected on big plays to wide receivers Corey Fuller and Marcus Davis and produced an 80-yard touchdown drive and the go-ahead field goal after Virginia Tech fell behind, 20-10, in the third quarter.
But all those superlatives didn’t change the end result, and the Hokies were left to ponder their first three-game losing streak since 2002. They’ll need to win their last two regular season games at Boston College and against Virginia just to extend their 19-year streak of bowl appearances.
“We know we got to get these next two, but I think that will help motivate us and help push us to be stronger,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “
Added Coach Frank Beamer: “There’s been no quit in anybody in our program and that’s what I’m counting on right now.”
*Logan Thomas on the third-and-three play in which he gained just two yards on a zone read, forcing Virginia Tech to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Cody Journell: “We actually had the perfect play called, but we missed a block. I probably would have scored.”
*Beamer on his offense, which gained 385 yards but failed to score any points off two Florida State turnovers in the first half: “We had some big plays there, probably more big plays on Florida State than any team they’ve played. I thought our kids battled and hung in there.”
*Beamer on that final Florida State touchdown drive: “We brought pressure the whole night. They are one of those teams that you have to have pressure on their quarterback and we did a good job most of the night. Then they made some big plays there at the end.”
*This is the second time this season Virginia Tech has seen a victory snatched from it in the final minute. Facing Cincinnati at FedEx Field, the Hokies also allowed a 39-yard touchdown reception with 13 seconds left on the clock.
*It was a scary moment in the third quarter when safety Michael Cole laid on the Lane Stadium field for nearly ten minutes after leading with his helmet on a tackle. But the good news is the injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as it looked on the field.
In a postgame statement, Virginia Tech head trainer Mike Goforth said Cole suffered a cervical neck sprain and had neck pain and numbness in his upper extremities. He did not, however, lose consciousness on the field and a CT scan was negative for any fracture. Cole was expected to be discharged from LewisGale Montgomery Hospital in Blacksburg, Va., on Thursday night.
*A couple of more factoids about the defense’s effort: Thursday is tied for the third-fewest rushing yards a Beamer-coached team has ever allowed and Virginia Tech finished with a season-high 12.5 tackles for loss. But when it mattered most, the Hokies fell just shy of scoring a season-salvaging upset.
“I told the guys at halftime that if we played our hearts out, we would win the game,” cornerback Antone Exum said. “They did and we just came up a little short. . . We’ve still got two wins to get to become bowl eligible, and we’ll get ’em.”