(Saturday, September 19th)
Final Score: (13) Virginia Tech 16, (19) Nebraska 15
Blacksburg, VA (Sports Network) - Danny Coale's 81-yard catch with just over a minute to play helped set up Dyrell Roberts' game-winning 11-yard touchdown reception with 21 seconds left, as 13th-ranked Virginia Tech stunned the 19th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, 16-15, to win its 32nd consecutive non- conference home game at Lane Stadium.
The 81-yard catch accounted for nearly one-third of Virginia Tech's 278 total yards of offense and most of the second-half yardage (141), as the Hokies (2-1) were stifled for most of the day by a staunch Nebraska defense.
"It has to be right up there [with the best of them]," Hokies head coach Frank Beamer said when asked where the comeback ranked in his career. "You have to have some great players on the field, and you have a guy that can keep a play alive and let your receivers run. It is right up there I can tell you that."
Tyrod Taylor completed only 12-of-27 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown but did not throw an interception in the win. Ryan Williams ran for 107 yards and a score on 21 carries, while Coale led the receiving corps with 89 yards on two catches.
The Hokies have now beaten Nebraska for the second straight year after winning in Lincoln, 35-30, last season. It was also the team's 10th consecutive home victory overall.
Nebraska (2-1) had several solid drives but could never punch it into the end zone, as Alex Henery's five field goals accounted for all of the team's scoring. The Cornhuskers also squandered a 1st-and-goal situation in the third quarter, taking four penalties to push the team out of field goal range.
Zac Lee proved to be ineffective for most of the contest, hitting on only 11- of-30 passes for 136 yards with two interceptions. Roy Helu Jr. kept the offense moving with 169 yards on the ground on 28 carries, but the nine penalties enforced on Nebraska proved too much to overcome in the end.
Ndamukong Suh, one of the Cornhuskers' premier defensive tackles, recorded eight tackles, four passes defensed and a half-sack in defeat.
After recording just one first down in the first five drives of the second half, Virginia Tech had one last chance with 1:44 to play starting from its own 12, and a defensive miscue allowed the Hokies to take the lead.
On the second play of the drive, from the 16, Taylor found Coale streaking wide open down the right sideline and hit him perfectly in stride. The wide receiver was finally corralled at the Nebraska three with just over a minute to play for a gain of 81 yards.
Taylor was sacked on the next play for a loss of eight, but two plays later he scrambled and found Roberts in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown and a 16-15 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Lee's desperation heave for Nebraska was intercepted as time expired.
"Great effort. I take my hat off to Virginia Tech," Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. "It was a hard-fought football game. In the end, we had plenty of opportunities to put that football game away and we didn't do it. And, they made the play at the end. I take my hat off to them. End of story."
Virginia Tech got off to a good start, as Roberts returned the opening kick 76 yards to Nebraska's 24 yard-line. The Hokies needed seven plays to score a touchdown, as Williams ran the final four plays and plunged into the end zone from one yard away for an early cushion.
Nebraska also used special teams to get into good field position, using a 55- yard punt return by Niles Paul to put the offense at the Hokies' 22 in the final minutes of the first quarter.
The drive didn't produce a first down, but Henery drilled a 40-yard field goal to make it a four-point game with under a minute remaining.
Virginia Tech went three-and-out on its next opportunity, and Nebraska took over at its own 42 to start the second quarter. A 19-yard pass play coupled with a 13-yard penalty put the Huskers in field goal territory, and Henery was true from 27 yards away to make it a one-point contest.
The Hokies sputtered again on the following offensive series, and Henery capped a 77-yard drive for Nebraska with a 19-yard field goal for a 9-6 lead with just over five minutes before halftime.
The two teams traded one more field goal apiece before the midway point. Matt Waldron's 39-yard make with 2:30 left helped the Hokies regain the lead, but Henery's fourth field goal of the half -- a 38-yarder -- accounted for the 12-10 halftime margin.
Neither offense could get into opposing territory in the third until a Nebraska drive late in the quarter. After a Lee rush for 17 yards gave the Huskers a 1st-and-goal from the six, a series of penalties prevented any points.
Lee threw a touchdown pass on the next play, but it was nullified by a holding penalty. A false start then set the Huskers back to the 21, and an incomplete pass followed. A holding penalty, an incomplete pass and another false start set up 3rd-and-goal from the 36, and after another failed play, Nebraska was forced to punt. The game remained 12-10 heading to the fourth.
The Huskers' defense was impenetrable for most of the second half. Virginia Tech recorded zero first downs in the third quarter, and the beginning of the fourth wasn't much better. The Hokies finally gained more than 10 yards in a single drive on their initial set of the final period but still stalled out at their own 35, forcing yet another punt.
Nebraska used a 35-yard pass play in the ensuing drive to tack on Henery's fifth field goal of the game, a 38-yarder, with 4:33 to play for a 15-10 lead.
Virginia Tech continues its tough schedule next week at home against Miami- Florida, while Nebraska will return to Lincoln to take on UL- Lafayette...Nebraska is now 15-16 all-time against the ACC, while Virginia Tech is 7-7 against the Big 12.
09/20 03:09:11 ET