- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

ATLANTA - Upset by unranked Georgia 31-24 in Saturday’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl, a terse crowd of Virginia Tech players and coaches filtered out of the locker room at the Georgia Dome.

Their explanations for a second-half meltdown in which the Hokies were outscored 28-3 were simple if unsatisfying.

“I think it all gets down to the fact that they ran too many plays on our side of the 50 because we turned the ball over,” coach Frank Beamer said. “I think that’s the bottom line.”

The choppy offensive performance by Virginia Tech (10-3) gave the Bulldogs a short field throughout the second half. Of six fourth-quarter possessions, Georgia (9-4) took over in its own territory on only one. The Bulldogs’ two third-quarter scores began only 2 and 4 yards deep on their side of the field.

The Hokies’ defense, the team’s saving grace most of the regular season, gave up more points in the second half than it had in the six previous games, and both senior end Noland Burchette and sophomore corner Brandon Flowers left with injuries.

Sophomore quarterback Sean Glennon struggled through a humbling second half in which he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on a blind-side sack. The interceptions came as Glennon was flushed out of the pocket and throwing on the run, but it was a troubling performance for a quarterback who started every game.

“I wouldn’t say I lost confidence, but I was definitely very frustrated,” he said. “Like I said, it just seemed like nothing was going right. Obviously. I didn’t lose any confidence in myself, but I was just hoping to catch a break.”

With tailback Branden Ore fighting for yards in his first game since suffering a sprained ankle in a win over Wake Forest on Nov. 18, junior flanker Eddie Royal turned in the Hokies’ most electric moments.

Royal completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sam Wheeler the longest completion of the game and returned a punt 54 yards to set up the Hokies’ second score. But the Hokies’ overall performance was a disconcerting flashback to the confused, disorganized play that caused consecutive conference losses in the fifth and sixth games and cost the team a shot at the ACC title game.

Penalties became a problem almost immediately. Josh Morgan shoved Georgia corner Paul Oliver after the play and drew a personal foul, pushing the Hokies back to third-and-23 on the opening possession. That lack of focus eventually cost Virginia Tech 78 yards on eight penalties, three of them personal fouls.

In the preseason, Beamer announced his intention to fine players out of their bowl stipends for personal fouls, and in press conferences leading up to Saturday’s game he had said he was satisfied with the outcome.

Beamer said afterward he will seek a way to address the penalties again.

“I’m going to see,” he said. “I think we’ve still got some of their money. And that’s another thing, just way too many penalties. You just go right back, turnovers and penalties and a loss. And I’m not going to forget those.”

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