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January 11, 2011

Stanford's second half too much for Tech in Orange Bowl

By: Jimmy Robertson

Virginia Tech and Stanford spent a week staying in hotels right on the beach in South Florida while conducting preparations for the Orange Bowl.

But after the game, the Hokies were the ones feeling beach bummed.

Stanford opened the second half by scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions and ran away from the Hokies 40-12, handing Tech its second-worst bowl loss ever and snapping the Hokies’ modest two-game bowl winning streak.

The defeat also ended Tech’s 11-game winning streak after an 0-2 start. Still, the ACC champs finished with an 11-3 mark – their seventh straight season of winning at least 10 games.

“I’m still proud of my boys for the way they fought the whole season,” Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win the last game like we wanted to, but we had a heckuva season. We have nothing to hold our heads down about.”

Taylor, playing in his final game, provided Tech fans with one last memorable moment. On a stunning play in the second quarter, he scrambled to his left, avoided Stanford linebacker Owen Marecic, spun around and threw a pass off his back foot while trying to stay inbounds. The pass was intended for Jarrett Boykin in the corner of the end zone, but tailback David Wilson made a diving grab in front of Boykin for an 11-yard touchdown reception.

That play gave the Hokies their only lead of the game at 9-7. Following a Stanford touchdown pass by quarterback Andrew Luck, Tech answered late in the first half. A Chris Hazley 37-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half cut Stanford’s lead to 13-12, and the Hokies appeared to be in good shape heading into the second half.

Tyrod Taylor set several records during his four-year career at Tech, but his most impressive one is career wins as a starting quarterback. He departs with 34 victories.

But Luck and the Cardinal heated up in the second half. Tech got the ball first, but went three-and-out. Stanford then marched 59 yards and scored on a 1-yard run by Marecic, who doubles as a fullback, for a 19-12 lead.

The Hokies put together a nice drive on the ensuing possession, but Taylor threw his fifth interception of the season when Stanford’s Delano Howell picked him at the Stanford 3. After a 56-yard run by Stepfan Taylor, Luck fired a 41-yard touchdown pass to Coby Fleener to make the score 26-12 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.

Luck hit Fleener for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the Cardinal’s third possession of the second half and then found Fleener again on the Cardinal’s fourth possession for a 38-yard touchdown. At that point, the Hokies were finished.

“It was right there and then we had a couple of long plays against our defense and it got away from us a little bit,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “We had them backed up [after the interception], and if you feel like you could hold them, then you could get right back in it. But then they got two scores and it got away from us a little bit.”

Luck completed 18-of-23 for 287 yards and four touchdowns, with an interception. Fleener caught six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, Stanford finished with 534 yards of offense – the most allowed by Tech in a bowl game.

“We had three weeks to prepare for them,” Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor said. “We just didn’t execute. Luck is a great quarterback, but he didn’t do anything special. We just didn’t show up.”

Tech’s offense finished with just 288 yards, including 66 on the ground. Taylor completed 16-of-31 for 222 yards, with the touchdown and interception, and ran for 22 yards to account for most of Tech’s output.

“I feel bad for our football team and for our fans and for the ACC that we didn't play better, that we didn't function better,” Beamer said. “But the same kids that I loved before this game, I love them after. They've given a lot. Getting that ACC championship, I mean, there was a lot of effort and hard work going into that. I'm not going to forget all that.”


• Tyrod Taylor departs Tech as the Hokies’ all-time leader in career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,196 yards), career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (23), career total offense (9,213 yards) and career passing yards (7,017 yards), and is tied for first in career 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (six). He also set the single-season record for touchdown passes with 24 this season.

• Jayron Hosley picked off his ninth pass of the season in the Orange Bowl, thus tying the school record for interceptions (Ron Davidson, 1967). He led the nation this season in interceptions.

• Andre Smith’s blocked extra point in the second quarter marked his second career blocked kick (blocked PAT vs. Boise State). It also marked the fourth blocked kick in a bowl under Beamer. Overall, the block was the 127th under Frank Beamer.

• Barquell Rivers, who started every game at mike linebacker in 2009, played in the Orange Bowl as a member of the kickoff team. He had missed every game this season while recovering from a torn quadriceps tendon suffered last winter while lifting weights.

• Tech recorded a safety in the Orange Bowl, thanks mainly to quarterback pressure from John Graves. The safety was Tech’s first since 2008 when the Hokies blocked a Nebraska punt out of the end zone and the first by a Tech team in a bowl game.

• Chris Hazley booted his 21st consecutive field goal when he connected before halftime. He finished with 116 points, a Tech single-season record for a kicker.

The captains for the Orange Bowl game are considered the permanent captains for the 2010 season and were voted on by the members of the team – Graves, Smith, Taylor and Davon Morgan.