(Thursday, December 31st)
Final Score: (12) Virginia Tech 37, Tennessee 14
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Ryan Williams ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns to close out one of the best freshman rushing seasons on record, as 12th-ranked Virginia Tech downed Tennessee, 37-14, in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
Williams set single-season ACC records for rushing scores (21), total touchdowns (22) and 100-yard games with his 10th. He also became Virginia Tech's single-season rushing leader with 1,655 yards surpassing Kevin Jones.
"I really don't care about records because somebody else will eventually break them. The win is really what feels good tonight," Williams said.
The Hokies' ground game racked up 229 yards and four scores, as David Wilson and Tyrod Taylor also found the end zone.
Taylor completed 10-of-17 passes for 209 yards and an interception, as Virginia Tech (10-3) clinched a sixth consecutive 10-win season and earned bowl wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
The Hokies logged a 20-7 victory against Cincinnati in last year's Orange Bowl.
"To be the first (Tech) team to win back-to-back bowl games, that's big," said Taylor.
Jonathan Crompton was 15-of-26 for 235 yards with a touchdown and interception for the Volunteers (7-6), who were back in the postseason after a one-year absence. UT beat Wisconsin, 21-17, in the 2008 Outback Bowl.
First-year head coach Lane Kiffin guided the Vols to wins in four of the final five regular-season games to become bowl eligible.
Montario Hardesty rushed for 39 yards and a score on 18 carries and added 79 yards on four catches. Denarius Moore hauled in Crompton's lone TD pass amid a 67-yard, four-reception game.
Virginia Tech took a slim 17-14 lead into the second half and thoroughly dominated from there, outscoring the Vols 20-0 down the stretch. The halftime lead was not without controversy.
The Hokies got the ball back after a UT score tied things up with only 18 seconds still on the clock. Taylor then heaved a 63-yard completion to Jarrett Boykin for what looked to be the final play of the half.
Tennessee and coach Kiffin trotted off the field, but came back after the refs awarded a timeout to the Hokies with two seconds left and Matt Waldron's 21- yard boot from the four broke a 14-14 tie.
Virginia Tech's opening possession of the second half went for 74 yards and a Taylor one-yard TD run. Williams, though, was the workhorse that provided the 24-14 margin as he rushed seven times for 73 of those yards down to the one.
Tennessee ended its series with a second straight punt and the Hokies' ensuing set took them into the fourth where Waldron kicked a 46-yard field goal for a 27-14 lead a little more than a minute in.
Cody Grimm's sack of Crompton produced a 3rd-and-24 a short time into the Vols' next drive and Virginia Tech had the ball back in short order. With Williams still nursing a twisted left ankle suffered early in the game, Wilson went to work and carried six times on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended on his three-yard run to make it a 34-14 game with just over five minutes left.
A Jason Worilds sack of Crompton essentially sealed it for the Hokies as Crompton fumbled on the play to help set up a 22-yard Waldron boot for the game's final score.
"I know we were in the game with those guys, we kind of just let it get away from us at the end. Those guys had a little more going at the end. They had a little bit more left in the tank," said Hardesty.
Tech put up the only points of the first quarter, capitalizing on Crompton's lone interception with a quick 44-yard drive that ended with Williams' one- yard run.
Williams then finished off an equally short 46-yard drive with a three-yard scamper three minutes into the second for a 14-0 edge.
Tennessee answered with its most impressive drive of the game -- a 10-play, 80-yard trek that Hardesty capped on a tough four-yard run through the left side. Crompton hit Gerald Jones twice on third down to keep the sticks moving.
The Volunteers later capitalized on Taylor's only interception. Janzen Jackson took the ill-advised throw back to midfield, and after a 47-yard catch-and-run by Hardesty, Crompton hit Moore for a two-yard score and a tie game with only 18 seconds left until halftime.
Tennessee still owns a 5-3 series lead over Virginia Tech in a series that dates back to 1896...The Vols moved to 25-23 all-time in bowl games while Virginia Tech improved to 9-14...Virginia Tech outgained UT 438-240...The Volunteers' ground game mustered only five net yards...The Hokies converted 8- of-14 third-down plays while Tennessee was successful on just 4-of-11 such chances.
01/01 02:29:25 ET