Virginia Tech Comes Back Again, End Yellow Jackets' Hopes of ACC Title

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent INovember 5, 2010

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets players line up against Virginia Tech Hokies players at Lane Stadium on November 4, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

The Hokies have trailed by 17 points twice this season, and in Thursday night's game against rival Georgia Tech they trailed by 14 in the first quarter, before coming back to win 28-21.  The difference between this season's Virginia Tech team compared to past is their resiliency.

In fact, Virginia Tech is the definition of what resiliency is in 2010.  The Hokies are 3-1 in those games in which they've trailed by 10 or more, with the lone loss coming to Boise State.  They started this season 0-2, including a shocking defeat to James Madison in Blacksburg.

Frank Beamer's preseason top 10 team that had hopes of competing for a national title vanished in the first six days of the season.  It was a titanic collapse, but the Hokies didn't quit.  The one way they could salvage their season after a disastrous start was to win the ACC title.

Now, the Hokies are the only undefeated team in ACC conference play and they're well on their way to competing in the ACC's title game for the fourth time out of six tries.  The ACC installed the title game in 2005, one year after the Hokies entered the conference.  The Hokies have been champions of the ACC in 2004, 2007 and 2008. They lost to Florida State in the title game in 2005.

No matter who they play, the Hokies are going to be tough to be beat.  Yes, Georgia Tech lost their best player in Joshua Nesbitt, who became the ACC's all-time leader in rushing for a quarterback before leaving injured.

That being said, the Hokies defense was beginning to slow down the Georgia Tech offense.  One thing that was hard to understand is why Paul Johnson wanted to put the ball in the air.  Nesbitt is not a good passer, the Yellow Jackets have the worst passing offense in the nation and their ground game was working for the most part.

Nesbitt was injured trying to make a tackle on Davon Morgan, who picked off his pass.  Nesbitt is out for the remainder of the season now, which should give the Yellow Jackets backup quarterback Tevin Washington a good amount of reps heading into next season.

Initially, it looked like Washington would be a better passer than Nesbitt.  He made some good throws down the field, and when the Yellow Jackets were forced to throw the ball on the last drive they had more of a chance than you might have expected.

But Rashad Carmichael picked off Washington's pass in the endzone to seal the game for the Hokies.  The Yellow Jackets doubled their pass completions against the Hokies this year with two, and threw two picks to the defense out of 10 passing attempts.

One of the big questions coming out of Thursday night's game is what happened to Ryan Williams?  He looked good in his first couple of series in the first half, but then he disappeared.  He didn't play in the second half at all.  He may have re-injured his hamstring, or the coaching staff is being overly cautious with the sophomore.  Williams had seven carries for 30 yards and a score, and it did look like his explosiveness was back.

Speaking of explosiveness, David Wilson showed the nation why he wasn't red shirted this season.  The sophomore is lightning in a bottle and if you give him the slightest hole he's going to take it to the house for six.  Wilson carried the ball seven times for 39 yards and a score, and he also had the go ahead, game clinching 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

Wilson wasn't touched on the return, and it had to be a deflating feeling for Johnson and his Yellow Jackets team after they had just scored their first touchdown of the second half.  Darren Evans added 68 yards on the ground and Taylor had 57 yards rushing as well.

Taylor didn't have his best game, but he made a lot of key third down conversions.  He did have one crucial mistake in the redzone when he had 11 seconds to throw the ball, but nowhere to throw.  Taylor forced the ball into coverage and it was picked off in the endzone.

The Hokies had a hard time converting turnovers into points, but they prevailed once again scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter.  Virginia Tech now has two road games against North Carolina and Miami in back-to-back weeks, before finishing the season at home against Virginia.

The only way the Hokies don't make a trip to Charlotte for the ACC title game is if they lose two out of their next three.  That's unlikely to happen as the Hokies have won seven straight and remain the team to beat in the ACC, again.