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Top plays of 2009 Hokies' football season

On Jan. 7, I posted a link to a ballot of the top 10 plays of Virginia Tech's 2009 football season. Well, the votes are in, and has compiled a highlight video of the results.

I've posted the video below; it's a really well-done project by a Hokie fan with the Internet handle VTPhreak4evr. After the video, I've included a few thoughts about the results. Naturally, I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise by posting feedback before you get to see the video for yourself. Enjoy.

I won't make much of a fuss about the videos ranked in the latter portion of the top 10. I'd more or less agree with all of them, and their placement in the rankings. But I was a little surprised when I got to the top five clips.

My biggest argument would be with the placement of Dyrell Roberts's 98-yard kickoff return in Virginia Tech's 34-24 loss to Alabama on Sept. 5. I don't think it deserved to be placed No. 2. It was certainly an impressive display and it injected an early spark into the game. But it ultimately mattered little in a game the Hokies' lost. They were outclassed by the eventual national champion Crimson Tide most of the night, even if the scoreboard didn't reflect that reality. So this clip just didn't seem to fit. I've provided my argument for why some of the others deserved higher placement than this.

The No. 5 highlight was quarterback Tyrod Taylor's 63-yard bomb to Jarrett Boykin in the Hokies' 37-14 win over Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31. The game turned on that play, which set up a Virginia Tech field goal before halftime. The catch brought the Hokies to the Volunteers' 4-yard line. The clock appeared to expire as Tennessee players and coaches jogged to the locker room. But 2 seconds was retored before place kicker Matt Waldron made a 21-yard field goal as time expired. The swing gave the Hokies momentum heading into the second half, and they did not let go of it. It was a huge play in an emphatic bowl victory, which is why I was surprised it was not voted higher.

The No. 4 highlight was running back Ryan Williams's remarkable 19-yard touchdown run in which he dragged a defender into the end zone in Virginia Tech's 38-10 win over North Carolina on Nov. 21. Why does it belong here? First of all, I would dare you to find a more physically impressive run than that. Williams dragged N.C. State's Earl Wolff about 10-yards into the end zone like a sled dog in the Iditarod. But it was also notable because it occurred on a momentous night. Williams ran for 120 yards on 32 carries, giving him 1,355 rushing yards on the season to that point, which the ACC's freshman rushing record set last season by the Hokies' Darren Evans (1,265 yards). Williams had a four touchdowns in the game.

Based on the circumstances of both plays, I would suggest that they belonged closer to No. 1 than Roberts's kickoff return.

My most passionate gripe, however, would come with the No. 1 and No. 3 plays. Both were the key passes in Virginia Tech's 16-15 win over Nebraska on Sept. 19.

Taylor's 11-yard touchdown pass to Roberts with 21 seconds remaining was voted No. 1, presumably because it was the score that clinched the victory for the Hokies. Before Roberts broke loose and got open, Taylor scrambled around in the backfield and gestured for his receivers to get open. What makes it even more impressive, in retrospect, is knowing that Nebraska tackle Ndamukong Suh was chasing after him and eventually gripped his jersey. Suh was a Heisman Trophy finalist. And, again, I have not forgotten that this was the play that won the game for Virginia Tech. In my opinion, it certainly belongs in the top five, but I don't think it's the best.

The indelible moment from the 2009 Hokies football season was Taylor's 81-yard bomb to wide receiver Danny Coale to help set up the aforementioned touchdown pass to Roberts. Before that pass, the Hokies had managed just 195 total yards before that miraculous drive with 1 minute 44 seconds remaining. If anyone told told you they truly believed Virginia Tech could march almost the entirety of the field in less than 2 minutes to win the game, they would have been lying to you. No way. No chance. Virginia Tech looked stuck in mud all afternoon against the stout Cornhuskers. And the Hokies' passing attack looked especially inept. But that was what made that beautiful arc to Coale all the more exhilarating for the fans at Lane Stadium.

With 1:44 remaining, the Hokies' coaches called a play known as Tiger 93. As the play is designed, Coale has a read to take his route and turn it up field. Nebraska was playing a cover-two defense. Seeing that, Coale ran his takeoff and went uncovered by Cornhuskers free safety Matt O'Hanlon. Taylor heaved a pass that seemed as if it were suspended in the air for minutes before it dropped into Coale's hands. The crowd burst into hysterics as Coale brought the ball to Nebraska's 3-yard line. For me, the lasting memory from the game will be Taylor's perfectly thrown pass and a wide-open Coale reeling in the ball. The play is sure to be discussed on bar stools at the Big Al's and Hokie House for years as it lives in Virginia Tech lore. For all those reasons, I would have voted it the No. 1 moment of Virginia Tech's 2009 football season.

Of course, if you voted in this survey, you could only click for your favorite highlights and didn't have a forum to babble like I did. So feel free to provide your view on these highlights or politely (or angrily) debate the points I've made by dropping a reply in the comment section.

By Mark Viera  |  January 26, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
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how about:
10 Williams TD run, vs. Alabama
9 Taylor to Boykin, vs. NC State (where TT is almost tackled before throw)
8 Williams k-o’s ECU def. back (#21) on run
7 Taylor to Coale, vs. Virginia
6 Taylor to Boykin, vs. Tennessee
5 Grimm's third fumble caused in 1st quarter, vs. NC State (representative of all 3)
4 Taylor to Roberts TD, vs. Nebraska
3 punt block and TD, vs. Miami
2 Williams sled-pull TD, vs. NC State
1 Taylor to Coale, vs. Nebraska

Posted by: CDRHoek | January 26, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

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