Boise State Pulls Out 33-30 Win
by Mike Mitchell
September 6, 2010
Virginia Tech spotted Boise State a 17-0 lead in the first quarter on a series of early mistakes, but rebounded to take a 30-26 lead down to the final minutes. Alas, the miscues were the eventual undoing of the Hokies as the Broncos pulled out a 33-30 win on Kellen Moore's 13-yard pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 left in the game at FedEx Field in the suburbs of the nation's capitol.
Clearly, the Hokies biggest mistake was letting Moore have the ball in his hands for a final drive. Virginia Tech needed just one more first down to run out the clock, but couldn't get it done. It's often said that a team needs a little luck and a few breaks to win a national championship, and the game-winning drive featured three quirks in the officiating that all went Boise State's way. It began with a flag being picked up on a block-in-the-back penalty on the Broncos' punt return, then saw the Hokies penalized for an awful late hit call on the sideline, and ended with an apparent push-off by Pettis on the game-winning reception.
But Virginia Tech has no one to blame but itself.
Boise State appeared to be headed toward a blowout victory when the Hokies fumbled on their first drive and had a punt blocked on the second series. The special teams' mistakes led to a field goal and a touchdown for a 10-0 BSU lead. Virginia Tech punted safely on its third possession and Boise State was returning the favor until D.J.Coles committed two crucial penalties on the Broncos' punt. He first ran into the kicker for no apparent reason and still managed to get called for a late hit on another Boise State player. The grievous errors let the Broncos keep the ball and ultimately add to their lead. Boise State needed just 74 yards of offense to build that 17-0 lead, thanks to the two turnovers and two penalties.
The Hokies found their composure, along with their offense and defense, and stormed back to within 20-14 at halftime. A Ryan Williams touchdown run gave Virginia Tech its first lead at 21-20 with 6:39 left in the 3rd. Then the game turned into the see-saw battled that everyone expected.
Boise State answered with D.J. Harper's 71-yard run on 3rd-and-1 and Virginia Tech responded with Tyrod Taylor's 28-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin on 4th-and-5. The Taylor-Boykin hookup came one play after the Broncos ran into the Hokies' kicker on a failed 51-yard field goal attempt.
Virginia Tech extended its lead to 30-26 on its next series on a Chris Hazley 34-yard field goal after Kyle Brotzman pulled a 30-yard attempt wide left on Boise State's possession.
The Hokies forced the Broncos to punt on the ensuing series and took over on their own 7-yard line with 5:14 left in the game. Virginia Tech managed one first down but had to punt from its own 33 with exactly two minutes left on the clock. A 25-yard return to the BSU 44 looked like it would be called back when a flag was thrown for an illegal block. But, instead of the Broncos starting from inside their own 15-yard line, the flag was waved off and Boise State had a short field to work with.
Three plays later, Moore hit Pettis with a 14-yard pass on the left sideline. A late hit penalty added 15 yards, though replays showed Pettis had barely touched one foot on the sideline as he turned to race toward the end zone. The hit occurred while Pettis was inbounds and still running down the field. Though the whistle had blown, neither Pettis nor the defender could have known he had ever stepped on the boundary. The play advanced the ball to the Hokies' 13-yard line and Moore hit Pettis for the winning touchdown two plays later. On the play, Pettis appeared to clear himself from the defender with a left arm push-off as he ran toward the back of the end zone.
Virginia Tech had one last chance from its own 35-yard line with 1:02 remaining, but three incompletions sandwiched around a sack ended the game. Until that final series, Taylor had thrown just four incomplete passes all night. He finished 15-of-22 for 186 yards and 2 TD's, and added 73 yards rushing. Boykin caught 6 balls for 102 yards for the Hokies to lead all receivers.
The Boise State defense held the feared rushing tandem of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to a combined 56 yards on 24 attempts. The Broncos' Doug Martin had 83 yards on 12 carries, and Harper had 80 yards and a TD on just 4 rushes. Moore was 23-of-38 for 215 yards and 3 TD's. Titus Young and Pettis had 6 receptions each, with Young gaining 80 yards and Pettis 73.