With Virginia Tech getting set to host Georgia Tech on Labor Day, another great season of Hokie football is upon us. A new season provides hope, highlight reel-worthy plays, narrow defeats for some and exciting victories for others.
There are high expectations once again for the Hokies despite only three starters returning on offense. The defense is expected to be one of the team's strengths with eight returning players.
Frank Beamer and his coaching staff have built a successful program that competes for the conference championship year in and year out. Anything less than playing for the ACC championship is considered a letdown in Blacksburg and this season is no different.
Before we experience the 2012 season and all of its jaw-dropping plays, hard hits and exciting finishes, let’s look back at the best moments from 2011.
Third-string quarterback and "All-World PAT holder" in my book, Trey Gresh showed tremendous awareness, hustle and effort on this play. He could have given up after the blocked kick but he ran down Lovett, a cornerback, to take points off the board once it was confirmed that Lovett’s knee was down.
No matter the opponent or circumstance, that’s impressive.
Yes, Steven Spielberg could have directed this video a little better, but you get the idea. Thomas threw the ball in a perfect spot where only Davis could have caught it. Virginia Tech took the lead 35-17 with this early score in the fourth quarter and cruised to victory.
In a wild back-and-forth game, the Hokies had the momentum heading in to halftime thanks to three touchdowns in the second quarter. The last score involved Danny Coale catching a pass across the middle and zig-zagging his way through defenders, then turning on his “afterburners” to outrun the last man.
There weren’t too many bright spots in either loss to Clemson last year, but this play stands out. There is no question that David Wilson is a freakishly talented athlete, and even though his trying to make something-out-of-nothing play has resulted in negative yards at times, this 19-yard gain was as exciting as they come.
For many years, third or fourth down and short would result in a failed running play up the middle. That was life before Thomas and his 6’6” 250 pound frame. Now all of a sudden it isn’t a matter of will the Hokies get a first down, but how many yards will he get and will he run over a defensive back (or a linebacker) in the process?
The clip above shows what Thomas can do in the open field, but he had his best hit of the season when he wasn't carrying the ball on this brutal block.
This game was close for four quarters and credit the Pirates with providing a big challenge. The Hokies finally got their act together in the third quarter after this run by Wilson.
First, fast-forward the video to the 3:40 mark.
Now, watch this dizzying video of the aftermath when a clearly amped up Shane Beamer – the running backs coach and Frank’s son – head-butts Wilson on the crown of his helmet.
Courtesy of Doug Doughty from The Roanoke Times, here is the reaction from the younger Beamer on whether or not he'll head-butt a player again:
“I’m still recovering from my East Carolina one,” Shane Beamer said with a laugh. “My head is still sore. My nose is still the worst thing. The head wasn’t too bad, but I think I jacked up my nose somehow … it’s still tender so…” He later went on to add, “That was a spur of the moment deal. I got caught up and you know…”
Yes, we know. At least you can understand why the players love Shane.
Long after the Danny Coale touchdown (No. 8 on this list), Georgia Tech came roaring back in the third quarter to take a 26-21 lead and appeared ready to deliver the knockout punch to Virginia Tech.
Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, Attaochu literally punched Logan Thomas after becoming frustrated that Thomas would not go down once he was sacked on third-and-19. The personal foul allowed the Hokies to continue their drive and ended it with a touchdown and control of this game. Georgia Tech never scored again.
The first game usually does not include the best play of the season, but it did have the best catch. Roberts ran what looked like a 20-yard stop and Thomas threw an ill-advised pass into good coverage that Roberts plucked behind the back of the defender for a big gain.
Arguably the most competitive and entertaining game of the year in the ACC, the Hokies and Hurricanes had battled for nearly four quarters with Miami a fourth-and-two stop away from winning. A callback to No. 6 on this list, Thomas sells the handoff to Wilson and takes the ball right down the middle for the go-ahead score. Enter Sandman and the Hokies defense took care of the rest.
The Cavaliers were riding a four-game winning streak and put themselves into position to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship, if they could beat the Hokies. They never came close.
Virginia Tech dominated in every phase of the game. The offense made big plays, the defense was physical and stifling as they had four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in the shutout.