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Hokies Lock Conference Title Over 'Noles

By Debbie Ballard
December 5, 2010

Virginia Tech sealed its season of undefeated ACC play with a solid win over the Florida State Seminoles to be crowned ACC champions for the third time in four years on Saturday.

The Hokies soundly defeated the Seminoles 44-33, putting their electrifying offense and shutdown defense on exhibition for a crowd of 72,379 fans in the bitter cold of Charlotte, North Carolina.

"We've got a lot of great character kids and I think that's how you come back from an 0-2 start and win the ACC- to have those great quality kids lead your team," said head coach Frank Beamer.

Senior signal caller Tyrod Taylor lit up the stadium for the Hokies, making many forget unaware they were watching a college football game.

Taylor ended the night with 287 total yards, three passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown. To say he served as the backbone of the offense is an understatement.

However, Taylor's domination of the Seminoles defense did not begin until the second half. The Virginia Tech defense, brainchild of defensive coordinator Bud Foster, handled the Seminoles during the first half.

"I think, you know, the young guys just stepped up and played well. In practice we rotate everyone so everyone's had a chance to play, and they did a good job of coming in and just stepping up for the team," said senior defensive tackle John Graves.

Graves referred to the loss of senior cornerback Rashad Carmichael, who was replaced by Kyle Fuller during the game due to injury.

While Carmichael did eventually reenter the game, the Hokie defense had no trouble continuing without him.

On the Seminoles' first possession of the game, led by second-string quarterback EJ Manuel, Virginia Tech limited the opponent to a field goal after Florida State drove 53 yards.

Trailing 3-0 the Hokies took the field with their first chance to respond and while Ryan Williams rushed for 27 yards on four possessions, key incomplete passes to Jarrett Boykin and Marcus Davis forced the Hokies to punt.

The Hokies needed a way to stop the incessant Seminole fight song and "chop" motion the fans seemed to perform after each down, and they got it.

On his own 24yd line, Manuel attempted a pass that Jeron Gouveia-Winslow intercepted and ran back for a touchdown. Linebacker Bruce Taylor tipped the pass, almost intercepting it himself, and placed it perfectly into Gouveia-Winslow's hands.

It was the redshirt sophomore's second career interception and first career touchdown, and it put the Hokies in the lead.

From that moment on, Florida State was doomed to perpetually play catch-up against Virginia Tech.

Stepping up again, the Virginia Tech defense forced a three-and-out on the FSU offense, which included a sack by Stephen Friday.

The Hokies extended their lead on the ensuing drive thanks in part to a 51-yard rush by Darren Evans to Florida State's 9-yard line. Evans finished the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, putting the Hokies up 14-3.

"That's our mindset- not to stay the same each quarter but to get better and that's something the coaches preach and that's something we try to do when we get on the field," Graves said.

A touchdown reception by Jarrett Boykin counteracted a 1-yd touchdown rush by Ty Jones, keeping the Hokies at a comfortable lead with 21-10. However, not to be counted out yet, Ty Jones rushed for another touchdown, trimming down the Hokies' lead to four points heading into halftime with a score of 21-17.

The second half, however, saw a complete turnaround in the Hokie offense, mostly due to the electrifying performance given by quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Taylor threw for 170 yards in the second half, along with two touchdown passes to Danny Coale and David Wilson respectively. As an added bonus, the signal caller tied the record for number of touchdown passes thrown in a season. Maurice DeShazo set the record in 1993.

He also rushed for a touchdown, and converted several key third downs by himself. He led the offense with poise and energy, forcing some to make comparisons between Taylor and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who led the Hokies to second-place in the national championship in 1999.

When asked if he believed anyone would remember Taylor and his legacy (Vick jerseys can be seen all around campus on game days), the quarterback responded as such.

"I hope so. I hope they don't forget about me. It hasn't really set in, too many things that I did here. I'm just thankful for the opportunity that Coach gave me from day one- allowed me to come out here and start and be the leader at quarterback."

Fans and media alike remembered Taylor on Saturday night- he was voted MVP of the game, and few can argue he did not deserve it.

His 45-yard pass-play to Danny Coale on the opening drive of the second half extended the Hokies' lead to 28-17. He received a chance to extend it further after the Seminoles were forced to punt.

Taylor performed accordingly.

A pass to David Wilson buried the Seminoles even further, who now trailed 35-17 in the third quarter.

Ty Jones salvaged the game for them yet again with a 1-yd touchdown rush to end the third quarter.

The Seminoles caught another break when, after Taylor rushed for a 5-yard touchdown to put the score at 41-24, they blocked the extra point and ran it back 82 yards for two points.

Chris Hazley buried the hatchet with a field goal to put the Hokies up 44-26.

Florida State responded with a seemingly meaningless touchdown in the last 10 seconds of play, and attempted an ensuing onside kick to regain possession, but Virginia Tech recovered the ball on the Seminoles' 42-yard line to finish the game.

After the game Taylor accepted his trophy for MVP of the game, leaving little doubt he deserved it.

"Just a great way to finish the a senior season. I'm just proud of the way we turned things around from an 0-2 start. As a senior it feels really good to go out on a win like this and I know John is just as proud as I am," Taylor said.

Virginia Tech also accepted its invitation to play in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida on January 3. Yesterday it was confirmed that the Hokies will play #5 Stanford.