ACC Football: Second Chances Push Virginia Tech Past Georgia Tech in ACC Football Opener

By M. Shannon Smallwood

Everyone at some point in their life is looking for the grace of a second chance.

A time to make up for that big mistake and prove your worth back to the world.

Well, that is exactly what junior K Cody Journell got an opportunity to do as he booted a 41-yarder as time expired to force overtime and a 17-yarder in the first overtime to lead the Virginia Tech Hoakies over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 20-17, in the ACC Football opener.

Yes, Journell was able to redeem himself in the game after missing a 38-yarder earlier, but the real second chance was much greater.

Journell was charged with a felony breaking-and-entering back in December and was dismissed from the team prior the the Hokies Bowl Game against the Michigan Wolverines. He was involved in a drug deal two other individuals and a pair of Hokie basketball players that went wrong. Journell was held for a week in jail before finally being released on a $100,000 bond.

His career seemed to be all but over.

A felony conviction would be immediate dismissal from the football team.

But we all have an opportunity for second chances.

Journell’s redemption journey began at the end of May when he was able to plea out for only a misdemeanor trespassing charge. He will have to complete 100 hours of community service and avoided any jail time.

He continued to do all the right things and was officially reinstated to the football team in July.

”Cody made a big mistake and I thought he paid a tremendous price,” Hokie Head Coach Frank Beamer said. ”But I think he knows that this is his family and we’re all pulling for him.”

And did the kid ever make the most of his second-chance on the field and in the national spotlight.

Overall, the game was a defensive struggle with some huge hits on both sides.

It was almost like both teams were playing not to lose instead of to win. For 59 minutes of the game, the score was a mere 14-10.

But that last minute was electric.

The Yellow Jackets capped off a massive 13 play 7 minute drive with a big touchdown pass by senior QB Tevin Washington with 44 seconds remaining.

Game over, right?

Far from it as junior QB Logan Thomas led the Hokies 50 yards in 38 seconds setting up Journell’s redemption kick.

A defensive interception and a few plays later had Journell being carried off the field as the savior.

”He kicked a big one there tonight,” Beamer said. ”And that last one, that’s not an easy one with the pressure.”

And with his success under pressure for the past nine months, Journell came through huge for his team that stood behind him the entire way on his journey.

With the win, Virginia Tech takes a big lead in the Coastal Division.

And Journell takes a huge stride in atoning his mistakes and re-establishing his future.


M. Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, journalism and college athletics and currently covers ACC Football for Rant Sports.

Follow him @woodysmalls

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