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September 15, 2010

HOKIE HEARTBREAK - Tech rallied from 17 points down, but can't find closure in a season-opening loss to Boise State

By: Jimmy Robertson

A crowd of 86,587 fans came to FedExField to watch Boise State take on the Hokies in the Allstate Kickoff in the Capital.

This was one season opener that won’t be soon forgotten.

Unfortunately, the Hokies would like to forget it.

Tech opened the 2010 football season against Boise State on Labor Day night in front of more than 86,000 mostly maroon and orange-clad fans at FedExField.

But in a bizarre game that featured a litany of special teams mistakes, and yet a tremendous comeback by the Hokies, Tech started off its third straight season with a defeat, as Boise State’s Kellen Moore threw a touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining that left the Hokies on the excruciating end of a 33-30 loss to the Broncos.

The loss marked another missed opportunity to claim a victory over a top-five opponent – Boise State came into this one ranked No. 5. It also left Tech’s players angry and frustrated and questioning whether they can duplicate another late-season march, as they’ve done the past two years.

“It’s right back to work,” Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael said, optimistically. “It’s a long season – a real long season.”

Despite trailing 17-0 after the first quarter – the first time a Tech team has done that since a 1992 loss to Miami – the Hokies appeared to get the game under control midway through the second half. Tyrod Taylor found Jarrett Boykin for a 28-yard scoring strike with 2:40 left in the third quarter that gave the Hokies a 27-26 lead after the two-point conversion attempt failed. Then, a Chris Hazley field goal with 7:38 left in the game increased the bulge to 30-26.

Tech’s defense held on Boise State’s ensuing possession and the offense took over at its own 7-yard line with 5:14 left. The Hokies got two first downs, and with 2:06 remaining, Boise State called its final timeout.

Tech appeared on its way to handing head coach Frank Beamer his second victory over a top-five team.

But on third-and-8 from the 33, a Taylor incompletion stopped the clock, and Tech punted, giving Boise State one last opportunity. The Broncos swiftly drove 56 yards in just 38 seconds, scoring when Moore hit Austin Pettis for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:09 to go.

“It happened too quick,” Carmichael said.

Tech did not get a first down on its final drive. On fourth-and-11, Taylor tried to hit Boykin on the sideline, but Boykin couldn’t come down with the catch, thus giving the ball back to Boise State. The Broncos ran out the clock to preserve the win.

“I firmly believe we’re going to be a good football team,” Beamer said afterward. “We weren’t a great football team tonight. We made too many critical mistakes, but I firmly believe we’re going to be a good football team.”

Particularly galling for Beamer were the unforced errors. A botched snap between Taylor and center Beau Warren led to Boise State’s first score – a 44-yard field goal from Kyle Brotzman.

Then two special teams mistakes led to Bronco touchdowns. A blocked punt by Boise State’s Pettis led to a score, and a running-into-the-kicker penalty by Tech’s D.J. Coles gave Boise State a first down. Coles compounded things by running down the field and getting a personal foul penalty, and that mess all led to another touchdown, one that gave Boise State a 17-0 lead.

Adding to the special teams woes, the Hokies’ kickoff specialist, Justin Myer, kicked a ball out of bounds, and Hazley missed a short field goal in the second quarter.

“The blocked kick, you could have blocked that kick,” Beamer joked to the reporter who asked about Tech’s special teams. “That was a new guy communicating with a new guy. We turned their best punt blocker [Austin Pettis] loose. We’ve got to get that corrected.

“Then we’re kicking with the wind and we kick the ball out of bounds [Myer’s kickoff]. There were just some things there that weren’t Virginia Tech.”

Taylor paced the Hokies offensively, completing 15-of-22 for 186 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries.

The Hokies, though, finished with just 128 yards rushing. Ryan Williams rushed for 44 yards on 21 carries, though he scored two touchdowns on 1-yard runs and caught a touchdown pass.

“We’ve got to look at the film and figure out what was going on,” Williams said of the rushing attack. “All I know was there were a lot of times when I got the ball and there were defenders in my face. I don’t know who let who by or what type of scheme they ran, but there were people in my face.

“Talent-wise, I felt like we had the upper hand. But they were more disciplined and prepared better than us. When you stop our running game – and we’re a running offense – it’s hard to get in the groove of things.”

Boykin led all receivers with 102 yards on six catches.

Moore completed 23-of-38 for 215 yards and three scores for Boise State. Doug Martin and D.J. Harper rushed for 83 and 80 yards, respectively.

Disappointed,” Beamer said, echoing the mood of Hokie Nation. “We’ve got work to do. It’s a tough deal. The kids fought awfully hard to come back. We just didn’t finish it off.”