Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tech Wins Fifth Consecutive Commonwealth Cup

With only small sparks of light on offense, the defense once again stepped up to ensure the Hokies clinched another win this season. They did so in one of the most, if not the most, important games of the season. Surprisingly, the game had Coastal Division implications and with the 17-14 win over the University of Virginia, the Hokies shored up the Coastal title and will once again face Boston College in the ACC Championship game on Saturday. What more, the game was against our in-state rival for the coveted Commonwealth Cup which the Hokies will hold on to for another year. The Commonwealth Cup has now been in Virginia Tech's possession for an entire class's tenure and then some. Even, redshirted Wahoo players will not have the knowledge of what it feels like to beat the Hokies. How sweet is that? What's sweeter is that the loss eliminated the Cavaliers from bowl eligibility.

The rivalry aside, the Hokies defense stepped up to contain the Cavaliers to just 249 yards, only 77 of which were through the air. Early on the Cavs had some success with the freshly introduced Wild Cav play putting CB Vic Hall in at quarterback. Hall was able to run effectively and led the Cavs to an opening drive touchdown. After that drive, the Hokie defense shut down the Cavs until late in the second quarter when the Cavs used Hall again to score another touchdown. Outside of these two drives, the Cavs only managed to make five first downs. Two of these came on a late fourth quarter drive with the Hokies up 17-14 during which the Cavs were marching down and appeared that they would either tie or go up on the Hokies with under three minutes to go. True to form, the Hokie defense stepped up with a crucial turnover. Rover Dorian Porch picked off QB Marc Verica's pass in the end zone. With just 2:15 left in the game the Hokies simply needed a first down to ice the game...

Which brings us to the other side of the ball. The offense started the game with similar originality and creativity that they had starting the Maryland game. They used the Wild Turkey with Greg Boone; they used misdirection to create lanes for Darren Evans and Tyrod Taylor to run down; they used quick and precise packages to let Taylor see down the field and hit Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. Boykin caught his second touchdown pass in as many games on the drive. However, the most important thing the Hokies did is stick to what they're good at. They established the run with Evans, Boone, and Taylor which made the few passes that Taylor needed to make easier.

The second Hokie drive had much of the same. The Hokies efficiently used the run to open up the pass. The drive stalled and Dustin Keys missed an easy 22-yard fieldgoal so the Hokies would fail to go up on the Cavs.

Then reality set in and the Hokies offense fell back to their old ways. Taylor once again reverted to some of his old behavior. On second down, Taylor was flushed from the pocket and seemed to have all the confidence drained from him. That drive went three and out. Taylor opened the last drive of the first half with some success but was pulled for Sean Glennon. Despite stating that Taylor would be the quarterback, it seems that the coaches believe that Glennon had a better two-minute drill. Whatever the reason, replacing Taylor as his confidence began to slip would surely kill whatever confidence he had left. The announcers called Glennon a crutch and Taylor would be without it when Glennon graduates next year. I totally agree and Taylor will have to learn to play without the crutch sooner or later. This was just another lame-brained decision by the coaches. Glennon had no rhythm to bring to the table and the result would be three passes thrown off his back foot. The last of which went right into the hands of a waiting receiver.

The second quarter opened with a humongous play from Taylor. Taylor is an amazing athlete but his 73 yard was aided by the Cavs' defense caught out of position as well as poor tackling. The play would set up a run in by Greg Boone to tie the game at 14.

The next Hokie drive ended with me almost throwing my phone and laptop into the TV screen. Sitting with my family, I got so angry I had to leave the house to go outside and scream. The Hokies were driving again, thanks mostly to ground game. Taylor hit Coale for a 20-yard pass and Boone for 17. The drive came to a first and goal from the eight. Evans picked up three on first down but lost them on second. Taylor was able to run to the one-yard line, but it brought up fourth and a half yard. With the defense playing extremely well, I found myself screaming "KICK THE FIELDGOAL!" at the TV. And yet, knowing Beamer, it's not in the playbook. It's like something changes inside of him. explains this phenomenon best. Okay, after calming down enough [we had the time out] to watch the play [after all it was only a few inches], I once again exploded as they decided to run the Wild Turkey which takes forever to get set and completely unnecessary in the situation. Needless to say the play was stopped.

The Hokies would eventually get that field goal in the fourth quarter. Keys hit a 28-yarder with 6:37 left in the game. The Hokie defense stepped up as shutdown the Cavs offense on the next drive with the interception mentioned above.

With two minutes to go, the Hokies failed to convert for a first and allowed the Cavs one last chance. Thankfully, the Hokies were able to hold the Cavs punctuating it with an exclamation point on the 4th and nine attempt with a Purnell Sturdivant sack.

The Hokies have managed to win two games in a row despite mediocre play. Up next is a rematch with Boston College. This time there is no Matt Ryan thriller to try to avenge.

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