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November 5, 2008

Holt draws praise for play in tough situation

By: Jimmy Robertson

With Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon out, Cory Holt, a redshirt senior from Lexington, N.C., made the most of an opportunity, throwing a touchdown pass in the Hokies’ 30-20 defeat at Florida State.

Cory Holt never participated in the Boy Scouts growing up as a kid in Lexington, N.C., but he sure subscribes to their motto.
Be prepared.

Holt, a fifth-year senior, found himself reaching for his helmet when Sean Glennon went down with an ankle injury at the 5:47 mark in the third quarter of the Hokies’ game with Florida State. Tyrod Taylor already was out for the game with a sprained ankle suffered on the first play of the afternoon.

So Holt, who came to Tech as a quarterback, but had been working at wide receiver for the previous six weeks, entered the game at quarterback – his first game action of this season. He took over on second down and the Hokies ended up punting two plays later.

“When I first got out there, everything was pretty simple for the first series,” Holt said. “I got back on the sideline and Coach [Mike] O’Cain [Tech’s quarterbacks coach] called down on the phone. He told me he was going to keep the same playbook. The only concern they had with me was the checks. I haven’t had any checks. I’ve been working with wideouts all week, and I didn’t know anything about the checks. But other than that, I knew pretty much the whole offense.”

Tech trailed 27-13 early in the fourth quarter, but the Hokies refused to go away and rallied behind Holt, who led them on a 46-yard march following a nice kickoff return by Dyrell Roberts. On fourth-and-1 from the FSU 7, Holt kept the ball and ran around the right side for a 3-yard gain. Then, on the next play, he lofted an easy throwback pass across the field to a wide-open André Smith for a 4-yard touchdown that brought the Hokies to 27-20 with 8:26 left – the first touchdown reception of Smith’s career.

“It’s something we did this week in practice,” Holt said of the play.

Then he added, “Well, actually Sean and Tyrod did. But I knew that if I had an opportunity, that play would be open.”

“We’re just fortunate we had Cory,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “He gave us a chance to win the football game. Having that experience and being around, no question, we’re fortunate to have Cory.”

Holt finished with modest numbers in his roughly 20 minutes of action. He completed 3-of-6 for 28 yards, with the one touchdown, in the Hokies’ 30-20 defeat. But it was certainly enough to win the admiration of his teammates and to thrill his family watching back home in North Carolina.

“I’ve learned to be prepared,” said Holt, who had played in just eight games in his career leading up to the FSU game. “I’ve been here a long time and learned behind some great guys like Bryan Randall and Sean and Tyrod. I’ve watched them and made the most of my opportunity.

“Sean came up to me after I threw the touchdown and said, ‘I bet you didn’t wake up this morning thinking you were going to be a quarterback.’ I was just thankful I was ready.”

Be prepared – that’s a lesson he certainly taught the rest of the team with his performance against Florida State.

Glennon moves up list

Taylor’s injury opened the door for Glennon, another redshirt senior, to get some snaps, and Glennon, too, made the most of his opportunity. Behind him, the Hokies opened a 10-0 lead and a 13-10 advantage at halftime.

He completed 9-of-16 for 133 yards, and he rushed for a touchdown. More importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions – a large reason Tech stayed in the game.

“I never lost confidence in myself,” Glennon said. “I wouldn’t have expected anything less. I know Tyrod’s been the guy, but I’ve always felt like if I were to go in, this offense wouldn’t be lacking anything. I could’ve made a few more plays, but I thought for the most part, we were throwing the ball real well.”

Glennon moved up the Tech chart for career passing yardage. He now has 4,471 yards passing in his career heading into a game against Maryland, moving him past Jim Druckenmiller (4,383, 1993-96) and into fifth place all-time at Tech.

FSU 30, VT 20 Oct. 25th, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla.

The Virginia Tech Hokies lost their top two quarterbacks to injuries and didn’t have enough to knock off No. 24 Florida State, falling 30-20 in an ACC game played in front of 81,876 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.

The loss continues the Hokies’ hard luck in that city. Tech hasn’t won in the Seminoles’ hometown since 1974 – a span of six games.

Both Taylor and Glennon went down with ankle sprains. Taylor injured his on the first play of the game while being sacked by FSU’s Toddrick Verdell. Glennon suffered his with 5:47 left in the third quarter while being sacked by the Seminoles’ Dekoda Watson. Neither returned.

Tech led 13-10 at halftime, thanks to Glennon, who completed 9-of-16 for 133 yards and kept the ball moving. The Hokies had lost their lead when he went down and trailed 17-13 when Holt came into the game.

With Tech trailing 27-13, Holt guided the Hokies on a drive and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 8:26 remaining. But the Hokies couldn’t get the ball back quickly, and Graham Gano’s field goal gave FSU a 10-0 point lead with 2:14 to go. Tech got no closer.

Other notes from the game:

  • Glennon’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter marked the third rushing touchdown of his career.
  • Josh Oglesby lost a fumble in the second quarter, marking just the second lost fumble for the season for the Hokies. It led to a field goal for the Seminoles. Dyrell Roberts also lost a fumble and that led to an FSU touchdown.
  • Devin Perez, a fullback, made the first start of his career.
  • Jarrett Boykin’s 41-yard reception in the second quarter marked a career long and served as Tech’s second-longest reception of the season (Roberts, 62 yards against ECU). Boykin finished with four catches for 89 yards.
BC 28, VT 23 Oct. 18th, 2008
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Despite forcing five turnovers and jumping out to a quick lead, Tech could not hold on to it, nor rally late, in falling to Boston College 28-23 in an ACC game played at BC’s Alumni Stadium. It marked just the Hokies’ second ACC road loss – they also lost to BC in 2006.

Tech led 10-0 early, but BC scored 21 unanswered points and never trailed again. The Hokies cut into the lead late when Dustin Keys drilled a 45-yard field goal to make the score 28-23 with 6:32 to go in the game, but Tech didn’t get the ball back until 1:08 was left.
Trying to muster one last scoring drive, Taylor lost a yard on first down and then threw incomplete on second down. On third down, he hit tailback Dustin Pickle for a 10-yard gain, setting up fourth-and-1 from the Tech 38. But Taylor’s fourth-down pass to Roberts was off the mark and the Hokies turned the ball over on downs, cementing BC’s win.

It was that type of evening for Tech’s offense, which mustered 240 yards for the game. Taylor – who lost for the first time as a starting quarterback at Tech – completed just 12-of-27 for 90 yards, with one interception. The sophomore from Hampton, Va., did rush for 110 yards.

“Execution was the main problem,” Taylor said. “We just didn’t execute the plays that were called. We had a tough time running the ball or getting anything going in the air. We just have to go back to the drawing board and fix up some of these little things that are hurting us.”

Other notes:

  • Brett Warren picked off his second career pass and scored his first collegiate touchdown when he returned it 36 yards into the end zone just a couple of minutes into the game to give the Hokies a 7-0 lead.
  • Macho Harris and Kam Chancellor also recorded interceptions in the game. Harris returned his 55 yards for a touchdown. It marked the fourth straight game in which he had intercepted a pass, becoming the first player since Carter Wiley in 1985 to do that.
  • It also marked Harris’ 13th career interception, a number that ties him for fourth place all-time at Tech. Chancellor’s interception was his first of the season and the third of his career.
  • Keys’ consecutive streak of made field goals ended at 12. He misfired on a 44-yarder in the first half to snap the string.