- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

BLACKSBURG, Va. — As fans filed out of Lane Stadium, the final seconds ticked off the clock and Virginia Tech’s undefeated aspirations as the Hokies offense tried to patch up the wreckage of their 38-27 loss to Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets scored three touchdowns in the first 11 minutes, stunning a Virginia Tech defense that had allowed only two touchdowns in the last four games. Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball looked for a receiver named Johnson on the opening drive, but not the All-American the Hokies had heard so much about all week. On the first play from scrimmage, Ball completed a pass to third-year sophomore James Johnson, who broke away to the Virginia Tech 21-yard line. Three plays later, Ball indeed turned to Calvin Johnson for the touchdown pass — a 3-yard toss over the head of Virginia Tech cornerback Macho Harris.

“It was great execution by them,” said Harris, whose team fell to 4-1. “Reggie Ball, he did a great job throwing it to his outside shoulder and I was playing inside leverage or whatever and it’s just hard — it’s hard, you can’t challenge the ball when it’s away from you, you can’t contest it like you want.”

The Yellow Jackets’ second possession was similarly devastating for the Hokies. With Harris and free safety D.J. Parker lurking a few yards off Calvin Johnson, Ball connected with the 6-foot-5, 235-pound receiver for a 53-yard touchdown. Georgia Tech scored just more than three minutes later when Troy Garside blocked a punt by Virginia Tech’s Nic Schmitt, giving the Yellow Jackets a first down on the Hokies 25-yard line.

“Blocked punt, those two punts we messed up on, that was big,” Hokies linebacker Xavier Adibi said. “I mean, field position, that’s a big part of the game.”

The Hokies’ first scoring drive was sparked by a 49-yard catch by Justin Harper, who wrestled the ball free from Jahi Word-Daniels and punctuated by a 26-yard Branden Ore touchdown run. But Tech’s offense struggled the rest of the first half. A pair of second quarter interceptions, one by Brendon Hill and the other by Harris, ended in Brandon Pace field goals.

“It was definitely disappointing to only walk away with those two field goals,” quarterback Sean Glennon said. “We made a vow from there on out that we can’t afford field goals. We’ve got to punch that ball in the end zone no matter what. And if we turn those other two field goals into touchdowns, you know, it’s a whole different game.”

Virginia Tech opened the second half confidently, with Glennon finding Eddie Royal for a 30-yard reception at midfield. But three plays later, Glennon was sacked for a 10-yard loss and fumbled. Linebacker Gary Guyton scooped up the loose ball and ran 38 yards untouched to the end zone, putting the Yellow Jackets up 31-13. In an ugly turn of deja vu, Glennon started the next drive with a complete pass to Harper before being sacked for another 10-yard loss and a fumble.

“You know, I wish I could have that one back because I was going to hit it,” Glennon said. “A guy was open, I was about to hit him. If we got that guy picked up and I hit that ball, they don’t get that touchdown, it’s probably a whole different ball game.”

Following the second fumble, the Hokies defense forced only the second Georgia Tech punt of the game, but the Durant Brooks punt rolled dead at the Virginia Tech 2-yard line.

The Hokies scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the score look more respectable. Elan Lewis scored from 1-yard out with 11:40 left, and Glennon completed a 21-yard strike to Eddie Royal with 3:31 left.

“I’m not proud of this one,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “But I am proud of how we hung in there and played when we were screwing this thing up. … We’ve got a little time before we got to Boston College and we need to learn from what took place out there tonight.”

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