Virginia Tech completed its 20th consecutive winning season with a 13-10 overtime victory over Rutgers in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl. The Hokies rallied from a 10-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter before Cody Journell’s field goal in overtime gave them their first lead of the game. They sealed the victory when Rutgers kicker Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in the Scarlet Knights’ overtime possession.
With the win, the Hokies ended a two-game losing streak in bowls. The paid crowd of 48,127 endured some late rain and some sloppy offensive play on both sides, as the talented defenses from both teams dictated the game.
“This game, two tremendous, tremendous defensive performances,” said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood. “Certainly really one of the better defensive performances I’ve witnessed from our Rutgers players this season or in my career at Rutgers.
“It’s a shame that unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of the game and squandered that type of performance and the result.”
The Scarlet Knights were first on the board with a defensive touchdown by star linebacker Khaseem Greene just 17 seconds into the first quarter. It was the second touchdown of the season for Greene, with both coming from fumble recoveries. Borgese added a 36-yard field goal at the end of the first.
It wasn’t a pretty game on either side of the ball, as the matchup of strong defenses and struggling offenses played out as the low-scoring affair most experts predicted. The Knights’ 10-0 lead held through two quarters as the Hokies struggled to move the ball. With 12:14 left in the fourth quarter, Journell’s 25-yard field goal made the game 10-3.
Less than 2 minutes later, Hokie cornerback Antone Exum, Jr., picked off a Gary Nova pass to put Virginia Tech in the red zone. Logan Thomas’ 21-yard pass to Corey Fuller on third down completed the comeback to tie the game.. “We finally caught them off balance,” he said after the game.
It was the cap to a big week for Exum, who garnered national headlines earlier in the week for using his bowl gift of a Best Buy gift card to but Christmas presents for some children he had just met. He was selected as game MVP for his tide-turning interception.
“We beat a good football team,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. “Those guys play hard, play tough, well coached, good athletes, I will say it before the game and after the game, I got a lot of respect for that program and what they’re doing with that program, but I am proud of our guys too.”