CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – In his first career start, Virginia Tech tight end Randall Dunn caught a 7-yard touchdown pass in overtime and the Hokies’ defense held Boston College on the ensuing possession, enabling the Hokies to escape with a 30-23 overtime victory over the Eagles in ACC action on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
With the win, the Hokies kept alive their hopes of going to a bowl game for the 20th straight year. Tech is now 5-6 overall on the season (3-4 in the ACC) and needs only to win next Saturday against rival Virginia to become bowl eligible.
BC fell to 2-9 overall, 1-6 in league play, and the Eagles lost to the Hokies for the fifth straight time.
“We needed this one badly. We really did,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “To come here and play a team that played extremely well and to have some things that didn’t go quite right and to overcome them, I know this – I’m really proud of our organization. I thought we hung in there.”
The Hokies found themselves trailing 23-20 in regulation after BC marched 64 yards in six plays and scored on David Dudeck’s 12-yard run with 4:11 left in the game. But Tech responded with a 62-yard march of its own.
A 33-yard pass from quarterback Logan Thomas to Marcus Davis got the Hokies to the BC 37. The drive stalled at the BC 23, but Cody Journell hit a 41-yard field goal with 1:05 left that tied the game at 23. BC elected to run out the clock on its possession, thus sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Hokies got the ball first. Tech got to the BC 7, where it faced third-and-4. Thomas then found Dunn in the back of the end zone for what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Officials reviewed the play to make sure Dunn got one foot inbounds. But his left foot was clearly inbounds as he secured the ball, and the officials upheld their initial ruling
The catch marked Dunn’s only one of the game. It was just the third touchdown catch of the fifth-year senior’s career.
“It’s a play we run in practice every Thursday in late-game situations and two-point conversion situations,” Dunn said. “I did what I normally do in practice. I gave the move I’d normally give a scout-team guy, and the defender bit on it. The back of the end zone came open. I just made the play that I make every week in practice.
“I wasn’t worried about being inbounds. As soon as I caught the ball, I looked at my left foot because I knew my right foot was going to be out. I saw my left foot drag. It was history from there.”
“He actually talked to me about it Thursday when we practiced it,” Thomas said of Dunn. “It’s our two-point play, but we pulled it out when we needed it. He said, ‘Go ahead and throw it up there. I can go get it’ I laughed at him, but I guess it came in handy today.
“I’m extremely proud of him. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”
BC had one last chance. But Tech’s defense held the Eagles in check. On fourth-and-11 from the Tech 26, BC quarterback Chase Rettig completed a pass to Dudeck, but Tech whip linebacker Alonzo Tweedy tackled him for a 7-yard gain, ending the game.
“When we scored, our mindset was that was the game,” backer Bruce Taylor said. “We knew we had to go in there and make sure they didn’t sniff the end zone. We knew they needed a touchdown, and Coach [Bud] Foster did a great job of calling the same defenses we’d been running the whole game, which had been working for the most part. We knew we had to lock it down, and we did.”
Tech’s defense played well for much of the game, holding the Eagles to just 291 yards. After struggling through the first half, Tech’s offense came around, and the Hokies finished with 401 yards, including 154 on the ground.
As usual, Thomas paced Tech’s attack, completing 16 of 33 for 247 yards and two touchdowns, and the Hokies’ Tony Gregory led the team in rushing with 69 yards. Journell finished with three field goals.
The big game, though, came from Davis, who did not play in the first half because of a poor performance in the Hokies’ previous game against Florida State. Yet he finished with five catches for 104 yards and the touchdown.
“I didn’t take it [the benching] personally,” Davis said of his benching. “I took it as I’ve got to get better. You never take things negatively. I never doubted that the coaches believed in me. When he [receivers coach Kevin Sherman] told me to get in there the second half, a little fire lit up in me because I didn’t play the first half. All I could was watch. There was nothing I could do. In the second half, I had to go out there and do what I had to do.”
BC got 133 yards rushing from tailback Rolandan Finch. Rettig completed 13 of 30 for 129 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked seven times by Tech’s defense.
The Hokies end the regular season next Saturday with a home game against in-state rival Virginia. Kickoff for the game has yet been decided.