It's a rivalry game, and its meaning cannot be measured. The huge, early-season battle between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech could not have had more hype. A conference and division game, the winner of this contest has gone on to the ACC Championship since the Hokies entered the ACC.
Both defenses showed up but both offenses were ineffective. Both squads showed up late, but one prevailed when it mattered most.
In a dramatic, heart-wrenching contest at Lane Stadium, kicker Cody Journell hit two crucial field goals, one at the end of regulation and one in overtime as the Hokies edged the Yellow Jackets 20-17 in Lane Stadium on Monday night.
"I told my football team how proud I was and to come back and win that football game the way it looked at times," said head coach Frank Beamer.
A lack-luster first half proved that the Hokie offense still needs work, as questionable play-calling and poor execution plagued nearly all of the drives, but the team responded when it mattered most.
Both teams found the end zone in the first half, and in the second half, Georgia Tech managed to grab the lead early in the fourth quarter with a field goal by David Scully for 34 yards to make it 10-7.
But after an injury to Virginia Tech wide receiver Marcus Davis on a reception late in the fourth, fellow receiver Demitri Knowles came in and jetted down the field to grab a 42-yard pass from Thomas for the crucial touchdown with 7:46 to go to give the home team a 14-10 lead.
"Demitri Knowles (one catch, 42 yards and one TD), Corey Fuller (five catches, 82 yards) both had some great plays tonight," Beamer said.
"Defense, I think we played great."
The Yellow Jackets responded with a 19-yard touchdown pass by Tevin Washington to Deon Hill with just under a minute to go, but the home side drove down with Thomas leading the way as Journell hit a 41-yard field go as time expired to tie it. The kicker finished two of three on field goals on the night.
In overtime, Kyle Fuller picked off Washington in the end zone on third and sixth and Journell bagged a 17-yard field goal to win it.
"I really believe that our kicking and punting game is going to be okay," said Beamer, who saw punter A.J. Hughes botch one in the first half. "We had a malfunction there that really cost us. I think that it is going to be okay. It is kind of like what I told you guys at the start, we are not as good of a football team right now, but we have the potential to be a really good football team. I think that our challenge is to keep growing and to get better day by day."
The Hokies gained 326 yards to Georgia Tech's 288. Logan Thomas was 21 for 38 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman running back Michael Holmes had 13 carries for 60 yards. Virginia Tech did not turn the ball over on the day and held its rival to 3.5 yards per rush.
The Hokies (1-0) will return to action on Saturday at home against Austin Peay. With many questions moving forward, this is a game Virginia Tech had to win. It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to secure a third-straight victory over the boys from Atlanta.
"It's definitely special how we just pull together and find a way to win at the end," Holmes said.
"The game is not over until the whistles are blown. We can fight through any game."