Well, that was fun. In one of those ‘Lane After Dark’ moments that demonstrate that those ‘loudest stadium in the country’ remarks are not all hyperbole, Tech staged an impressive Fourth Quarter rally to knock off Florida State. Frank’s ‘Bobby Jinx’ is over. And, further amusement was to be found from a score in the RTP.
Tech had spent the First Half looking very much like a better team than the Noles. That was not altogether unusual, as it had appeared, to this correspondent, at least, that the Hokies had appeared to be the better team in the last couple of losses to FSU. The Noles always seemed to find a way to win.
Indeed, it was déjà vu all over again in the Third Quarter, as Florida State spent the Third Quarter rallying, finally taking the lead. I suspect I was not the only Hokie around thinking, ‘@#$%! Here we go again.’ This time around, however, things were different.
The Tech team and coaches were obviously aware that I was returning to a game after having missed four. After the entire team had huddled around Frank to listen to him extol the necessity of ‘winning for Jim,’ the Hokies responded.
What I consider a very critical sequence of events happened. Tech was at the FSU 40 facing a 4th and 3. With many in the crowd yelling for Frank to go for it, Frank did not. Ignoring the guy a couple of rows behind me who was screaming as the punt team trotted onto the field, “You’re scared of Bowden, Beamer. This is why you lose,’ Tech punted the ball inside the Noles’ 10. Three plays later they had the ball back at midfield and a few plays after that Tech had the lead. Frank does that often, for good reason.
It was a game of fierce hitting. There was a constant parade of players from both sides limping or being carried off the field. That included both starting quarterbacks. Tech had the better freshman backup. Tyrod picked a most opportune time to have the game of his brief collegiate career.
Ponder had looked pretty good for Florida State until he did not. That would be at the end. After Tech had shoved the lead into double digits, FSU and its frosh QB found itself backed up deep in its own end of the field. The steepness of Lane’s grandstands and that wall of an SEZ right behind him created noise that must have had Ponder pondering that every single Tech fan in the stadium was right on top of him. This is not a good way to think against a Tech defense that had sensed blood in the water. The game was immediately salted away.
Frank finally got the Bowden monkey off his back and for the last couple of weeks Tech has finally started looking like the team that was the overwhelming pick to win the ACC. A bit of work remains. With this week’s game against the Canes having been rendered meaningless in the overall scheme of things after the Canes took that wrecking ball that was to be used to bring down the decrepit Orange Bowl to themselves first against the Hoos, it is still the Canes.
While the Canes looked a lot against the Hoos like a team that has quit on Randy Shannon, the sight of the ‘VT’ on the helmets, AKA ‘The Team That Keeps Keeping Them From Being Back,’ the Canes might have a bit more fire in them than they showed in closing out the dump of an Orange Bowl in grand style. That was quite an effort in front of all the NFL alums, guys.
Then will come a trip to Hooville in what will be the biggest game ever played between the two old rivals. More than bragging rights, even algroh’s, will be on the line.
Tech and the Hoos will be the second in what now amounts to the ACC holding a championship game semi-final over the next two weeks. The first will be this Saturday when Fredo visits Death Valley. Fredo has spent 176 of the last 180 minutes of football looking like Fredo instead of the team that was once ranked second in the country. While Frank finally rid himself of his Bobby jinx, son Tommy Bowden will be looking for another chance to get rid of his Frank one. He will be joined by all in the Jacksonville hospitality industry, who have never been shy when it comes to publicly expressing their preference for Tech-Clemson matchups in their city.
ACC commish Little Johnny Swofford finally gets some expansion-induced REALLY BIG and MEANINGFUL late-season games. Neither will involve the vaunted Florida teams. Imagine that. So much for all of those duels between the Canes and Noles for the ACC championship.
Then there was the annual clash between North Carolina and NC State. It was also the first game between the RTP’s two first-year coaches. The winner was the one who spent the year coaxing improvement from his injury-ravaged team instead of constantly angling for another job. That would be Captain Tom, the Field Marshall of the ACC’s hottest team, the guy who is mounting a solid late-season challenge to algroh for ACC Coach of the Year honors. I would certainly vote for Captain Tom if I had a vote, which I do not. But then again, I am Tech alum who enjoys seeing the fellow land grants doing well against their annoying in-state ‘U of.’
The guy who did not fare quite as well against the Pack as had Big John in his last three tries was, of course, Butch. He would be the new RTP coach who loudly proclaimed when hired that he “ Wouldn’t have taken any other job” but Carolina, then has constantly chased after other ones ever since, finally firing his agent for not getting him the Alabama job [Saban again, eh, Butch? That must have been deja LSU all over again].
This is just Butch being Butch, right down to the whining about his facilities. Those who caught Butch’s Miami act have seen it before. The ‘World’s Best 3-7 Coach’ will keep doing this every year until he leaves, which he will. Enjoy the ride, Heels.
The season is winding down, but there is still lots of fun remaining in the form of meaningful football games to be played. Tech’s next two will be against their two biggest rivals, the Canes and the Hoos. As has often been the case, one will be for bragging rights and the other will decide a champion. Surprisingly enough and for the first time, which game is which has been reversed. It does make it interesting.