Virginia Tech's Defense Wins Russell Athletic Bowl

By Ryan McCart
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech avoided something that they have successfully been able to stay away from since 1992, a losing season. The Hokies came into the Russell Athletic Bowl with a 6-6 record and left with a 7-6 record, effectively continuing their winning season’s streak to 20 consecutive years. It wasn’t always pretty; in fact, the game between Rutgers and Tech may be the ugliest game we see all bowl season. However the Hokies were able to continue the streak and that is what matters.

The game ended up being a greatest hits album of Virginia Tech’s entire 2012 campaign. The defense held the team in the game, giving up a total of three points to the Scarlet Knights offense, and the Hokies offense made the game a lot harder than it should have been. Virginia Tech botched the snap on the second offensive play of the game and Rutgers’ defense fell on the ball in the end zone. Luckily for Virginia Tech, that was the last time that their opponents got there.

Once again, the Hokies failed to establish their running game. They ran for a grand total of three yards on 32 carries in the game as a team, and Logan Thomas, again, couldn’t get anything going in the passing game. He ended up completing 15-of-39 attempts for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Thomas constantly underthrew and overthrew his receivers throughout the night, and he was lucky he didn’t throw a back breaking interception in overtime.

Let’s face it, the only reason Virginia Tech won this game was its defense. Both teams ended the game with exactly 196 total yards. Bud Foster’s defense was able to force two turnovers in the game which was just enough to win. Corner Antone Exum had an interception early in the fourth quarter that set up the Hokies for their only touchdown drive of the night. ESPN named Exum the player of the game after it was all said and done.

The defense kept Rutgers offense in check during the first overtime. In fact, the Scarlet Knights didn’t gain a yard in the extra period. This gave Nick Borgese a tough 42-yard field goal attempt to tie the game, which he ultimately missed.

Bud Foster’s defense won this game for the Hokies, there is no way around that fact. This game also proved that it might finally be time for Frank Beamer to part ways with some of his offensive coaching staff. A 7-6 record isn’t good enough in Blacksburg, but time will only tell what changes (if any) happen in the program.

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