Orlando, FL – Virginia Tech overcame a 10-point fourth- quarter deficit as Cody Journell's 22-yard field goal in overtime sent the Hokies to a 13-10 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Despite being shut out on just 79 yards of offense through the first three quarters, Virginia Tech (7-6) got two scores in the final period to draw even. After the Hokies got the ball first to start OT, Journell's kick proved to be the difference after Rutgers' Nick Borgese was unable to match when his 42- yard attempt sailed just wide right.
Although they finished with their worst record in 20 years, the Hokies concluded the campaign on a high note by winning their final three games.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas struggled for most of the contest, completing just 15-of-39 throws with two interceptions, but tossed a touchdown pass to Corey Fuller in the fourth quarter to tie the game. He passed for 193 yards in the Hokies' 12th straight win over Rutgers.
"We finally caught them off-balance. We finally got them uncomfortable," Thomas said of his TD toss to Fuller. "We got a matchup we liked and Corey did a great job winning and I just had to put it out there for him."
After a promising start to the season for Rutgers (9-4), it ends the 2012 campaign on a sour note. After falling short of a BCS berth when losing to Louisville in their regular-season finale, the Scarlet Knights were denied a chance at just the third 10-win campaign in school history in the loss.
"Very disappointing," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of the loss. "I try not to predict the way games go and, as you know, I've always said you can think a game may be a certain way and all of a sudden you're in it and it turns out to be completely opposite."
Coming in as winners in five straight bowl games, Rutgers could not score an offensive touchdown and tallied just 196 yards of total offense. Gary Nova completed 17-of-40 throws for 129 yards with an interception, and Savon Huggins rushed for 48 yards on 18 carries in Rutgers' third consecutive loss.
Khaseem Greene scored the Scarlet Knights' only touchdown by recovering a fumble in the end zone on the second play of the game.
In an offensively challenged game in which neither team had more than 200 total yards, the Hokies were able to get just enough offensive production in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 10-10.
Following Borgese's miss from 47 yards out, the Hokies took over at their own 30 and quickly began to cut into the deficit.
Thomas hit Dyrell Roberts for 32 yards before Fuller hauled in a 25-yard pass to set up Journell for a 25-yard field goal with 12:14 remaining in regulation.
Three plays later, Antone Exum intercepted Nova and returned it 32 yards to the Rutgers 21. Thomas then drew the Hokies even on the third play of the offensive series, as he lofted a 21-yard fade to Fuller, who made the reception in the corner of the end zone to tie the game at 10-10 with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter.
After Nova completed a pass to Brandon Coleman on 3rd-and-7 to pick up a first down, he fumbled on the following play and Tyrel Wilson picked it up for Virginia Tech, giving the Hokies possession on the Rutgers' 29.
The Hokies could not advance the football, however, and an intentional grounding penalty on third-and-long pushed them out of field goal range and forced them to punt.
Rutgers went three-and-out before punting on the ensuing possession. A 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Knights' Marcus Cooper and 7-yard rush by Thomas put Journell in position for another field goal, but his 51-yard attempt fell short.
Thomas got two more chances in regulation to put the Hokies ahead, but he couldn't get them in range to score. Brandon Jones picked him off for the second time and the Hokies were forced to punt on their final possession, sending the game to overtime.
The Hokies got the ball first and nearly squandered an opportunity to score when Thomas' fade to the end zone was nearly picked by Logan Ryan. However, he could not hold on to the ball and Journell booted through a 22-yarder to put Virginia Tech ahead 13-10.
Nova got sacked for a 6-yard loss on Rutgers' first offensive play of overtime. He then completed two short passes to get the Scarlet Knights back to the 25-yard line, but Borgese's 42-yard kick sailed just wide right, giving the Hokies the victory.
Rutgers scored its only points in the first quarter. On the second play of the game, a bad snap went over the head of Thomas and into the end zone, where Greene came out of the pile with the ball to give Rutgers a 7-0 edge.
After punting on their first two touches, the Scarlet Knights padded their advantage with a 36-yard Borgese field goal late in the first quarter to go up 10-0. The kick was set up by a 25-yard run by Miles Shuler on a reverse.
Rutgers had chances to score twice in the second quarter, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities.
After driving 62 yards to the Virginia Tech 31, the Scarlet Knights decided to go for it on 4th-and-3. However, Nova's pass to Coleman was thrown behind him, leading to a turnover on downs.
On its next series, Rutgers advanced to the Hokies' 39 after Mason Robinson drew an unnecessary roughness penalty following his 21-yard punt return. But the Rutgers' offense managed just four yards from there and was forced to punt.
The Scarlet Knights managed just 82 yards of offense over the third and fourth quarters.
Friday's game was the 15th meeting between the two schools. It was the first time they played each other since 2003 ... Rutgers has not defeated Virginia Tech since 1992, when the Hokies finished 2-8-1 ... The Scarlet Knights fell to 5-3 all-time in bowl games ... Rutgers wide receiver Mark Harrison left the contest in an ambulance after experiencing rib and stomach pain.