No. 22 Va. Tech Rallies to Stop Ga. Tech

Friday, October 29th 2004, 7:09 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ If Virginia Tech goes on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, remember the last 5 1/2 minutes at Georgia Tech. For most of the game, the Hokies couldn't do anything right. Then, in a stunning turnaround, they could do no wrong.

Bryan Randall threw two long touchdown passes and Roland Minor finished off the Yellow Jackets with a 64-yard interception return, rallying No. 22 Virginia Tech to a wild 34-20 victory Thursday night.

For the Hokies (6-2, 3-1 ACC), this was a crucial victory. They remained one game behind Miami in the loss column, with a season-ending game against the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl.

``This is one of those wins that is great for your football program,'' coach Frank Beamer said. ``I hope we build on it. The way we did it, the way we hung in there, we never gave up.''

Randall passed for 304 yards, also hooking up with David Clowney on a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

But Randall really shined at the end.

He threw an 80-yard scoring pass to Eddie Royal with 5:28 remaining, then completed a desperation pass for the tying 2-point conversion.

``When we tied it, we knew we had the momentum,'' Randall said. ``We didn't think our defense would give up any more points.''

But Georgia Tech's did. On the Hokies' next series, Randall ran for 32 yards, then connected with Josh Morgan for a 51-yard TD with 3:10 remaining.

Minor, a redshirt freshman, intercepted two passes by Reggie Ball in the final 2 1/2 minutes, returning the second for the touchdown that capped a 25-point fourth quarter by the Hokies.

Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-3) scored two touchdowns less than a minute apart in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. But the Yellow Jackets couldn't hold it, their highly ranked defense falling apart in the final period.

After giving up a total of 265 yards in its two previous games, the Yellow Jackets were burned for 446 yards in this one.

``It hurts to let one get away like this, where we thought we were in pretty good shape going into the fourth quarter,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ``We gave up some big plays and just couldn't sustain anything offensively.''

Randall completed 18 of 31 passes and also played a big role in the running game, accounting for 64 yards on nine carries.

Georgia Tech was still looking good after Travis Bell kicked his second field goal, a 34-yarder with 5:44 remaining for a 20-12 lead.

``Things were going wrong,'' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. ``It looked like every time things were turning around for us, we did something else.''

But the Hokies managed to survive on a foggy, wacky night in downtown Atlanta. The teams combined for seven turnovers, 173 yards in penalties and plenty of head-scratching plays.

Ball inexplicably ran out of the back of the end zone in the third quarter to give Virginia Tech a safety. The Hokies had to settle for a field goal early in the fourth quarter after having first-and-goal inside the Georgia Tech 1.

In the first half, the teams spent plenty of time giving each other the ball.

Randall fumbled deep in Georgia Tech territory, while Georgia Tech's star running back, P.J. Daniels, lost the ball twice on the Hokies side of the field.

After Daniels' second fumble, Randall gave the ball right back with an ill-advised pass over the middle that was picked off by Butler and returned to the Hokies 39.

Finally, someone took advantage. Ball threw a 27-yard pass to Nate Curry, then hooked up with Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.

Virginia Tech couldn't even get its offense back on the field. On the ensuing kickoff, Royal was hit from behind and fumbled the ball away, with Jamal Lewis recovering at the Hokies 28.

Ball completed a 15-yard pass to Darius Williams, then Daniels redeemed himself for the fumbles with a 13-scoring run that made it 14-0. The TDs came just 46 seconds apart.

Bell's 46-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the first half sent Georgia Tech to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

``To come back after that, boy, it took some big-time players,'' Beamer said.

No one was bigger than Randall, who called it ``one of the best moments of my career.''

And one that might be worth remembering at the end of the season.