The thank yous and tears were flowing at Lane Stadium Saturday afternoon as the entire Virginia Tech community celebrated the final home game of head coach Frank Beamer’s illustrious career. Going up against the underranked No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels, the outcome on the field didn’t feel as important as properly expressing gratitude for the man who essentially built Virginia Tech into the university it is today. With the Tar Heels pulling out the 30-27 victory in overtime on a controversial touchdown catch.
With 5:36 left in the game it looked like the Hokies getting a win for Beamer’s last home game wasn’t in the cards with the Tar Heels holding a two touchdown lead and the ball. But as Lee Corso once said “I don’t know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them” and it seemed like the Hokies got some divine intervention as Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams fumbled twice to let the Hokies grab two last minute touchdowns and tie the game at 24 with a minute left to play. After stuffing the Tar Heels last gasp drive, Tech took a knee to send the game to overtime and let Hokie fans celebrate Beamer a little bit longer.
The Hokies opened the overtime period with a 42-yard Joey Slye field goal to take the 27-24 lead and put the pressure on the defense again. Despite rising to that call for the entire game, the Hokies defense finally buckled, allowing a quick pass to put the Tar Heels down to the 9 yard line. The Hokies managed to force third and goal, but a great pass by Williams and an awful ruling by the refs on a clearly incomplete pass gave the Tar Heels the win and a bittersweet ending to the affair.
The day started with Beamer leading the Hokies out of the North Endzone tunnel for the final time to the bars of Enter Sandman and a full stadium cheer of “Thank You — Beamer!” The good feelings were quickly sapped as the Tar Heels took their first possession of the game 80 yards for a Williams touchdown to take a quick 7-0 lead. It looked like a long day was ahead for the Hokie faithful.
But then Bud Foster’s defense righted the ship and put on one of their best performances of the season against one of the best offenses in the nation. Six of the Tar Heels next seven drives ended in four or less plays, six punts and one fumble. The Tech defensive line was dominant, finishing the day with four tackles for a loss, a sack and two forced fumbles while the rest of the defense tacked on two more tackles for a loss.
However, as has always been the story for Frank Beamer’s Hokies the offense could do nothing with the prime situations the defense was putting them in. Unlike the Tar Heels, the Tech offense was able to get some sustained drives; a nine play 28 yard drive and a nine play 42 yard drive ate up 8:17 of the clock but yielded no points. The Hokies finally got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a 32 yard Joey Slye field goal.
The two teams entered the half at 7-3 and amidst a moving video tribute to Beamer Virginia Tech fans could be forgiven for wondering if the Hokies could pull out one last upset for him.
Those prayers seemed on the Hokies’ second drive of the third quarter. After a moronic Dadi Nicolas penalty handed the Tar Heels a field goal to make it 10-3, Michael Brewer drove the Hokies offense 81 yards and called his own number on third and goal powering through tacklers to get into the end zone to make it a 10-10 game.
Then things took a turn for the worse as Sam Rogers fumbled to set up the Tar Heels for a touchdown and then Michael Brewer through two interceptions to give UNC another touchdown and the ball with only 5:36 left to go in the game with a two touchdown lead before the Hokies mounted their furious comeback to tie the game.