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Hokies rally late, edge Rutgers in overtime

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Virginia Tech came back from 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Rutgers 13-10 in overtime Friday night in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Hokies junior quarterback Logan Thomas connected with senior wide receiver Corey Fuller for the game-tying, 21-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and Cody Journell kicked the game-winning, 22-yard field goal in overtime.

Rutgers' attempt to tie the game in overtime was unsuccessful, as Nick Borgese's 42-yard field-goal try sailed wide right.

Virginia Tech (7-6) didn't seem to have any easy wins during its disappointing 2012 season, and true to form, it capped the year off with another grind-it-out victory.

"Nothing comes easy for us. It's work, but we've got a bunch of guys that hang on," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "We're not always pretty, but we kind of hang on and keep working at it."

Virginia Tech broke a two-game bowl skid and ended Rutgers' five-game bowl winning streak. The Hokies have beaten the Scarlet Knights 12 straight times.

The Hokies, who lost six of eight games in the middle of the season, avoided their first sub-.500 season since 1992. Virginia Tech ended the season on a three-game winning streak.

"We haven't had a losing record around here in I don't know how long," said Hokies cornerback Antone Exum, the game's most valuable player. "We win around here. It's just great not to be that team that ended with a losing season, and hopefully we can do bigger and better things next year."

The Hokies kept Rutgers' offense out of the end zone for the entire game. The Scarlet Knights' only touchdown came early in the first quarter on a fumble recovery in the end zone by linebacker Khaseem Greene.

"We're certainly disappointed with the inconsistency of our offense," Rutgers first-year coach Kyle Flood said. "We just couldn't get a drive during the game."

Virginia Tech held Rutgers (9-4) to 196 total yards and forced two fourth-quarter turnovers. Exum set up the game-tying touchdown with a critical interception and 32-yard return to the Rutgers 21-yard line with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter.

Three plays later, Thomas tossed the game-tying touchdown to Fuller with 10:56 remaining.

"I'm really thankful for this win, to keep the Virginia Tech tradition alive," said Fuller, who had two catches for 46 yards.

Thomas, a junior, completed 15 of 39 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in what might have been his last college game. He deflected all talk afterward about the possibility of him leaving school early for the NFL.

"I can't tell you now. I have a big decision in front of me either way it goes," Thomas said. "Either way, I'm proud to be a Hokie."

Virginia Tech was held scoreless for the first three quarters before Journell connected on a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Journell, who kicked three game-winning field goals this season, went 2-for-3 on field goals against Rutgers. He was short on a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.

There wasn't much offense from either team in the first half, but Rutgers took advantage of a couple of big plays to take a 10-0 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Scarlet Knights went ahead 7-0 only 17 seconds into the contest on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Greene.

Virginia Tech center Caleb Farris sent a snap past Thomas, who tried to recover the ball and keep it out of the end zone to avoid a safety. The ball came loose, and Greene recovered to give Rutgers an early lead.

Replays showed Thomas may have been down by contact before the fumble, but the Hokies didn't challenge the ruling. Thomas and Beamer said they thought Rutgers was guilty of a neutral-zone infraction before the play.

"In hindsight, I wish I would have kicked it out of the end zone," Thomas said. "I thought I was going to be able to pick it up and get it to the 1- or 2-yard line."

Rutgers took a 10-0 lead with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter on Borgese's 36-yard field goal. The Scarlet Knights started the drive from Virginia Tech's 46-yard line thanks to a personal-foul penalty against freshman Kevin Asante during a Virginia Tech punt.

Virginia Tech also finished with 196 total yards.

NOTES: Beamer now has 258 career victories to put him in sole possession of sixth place on the all-time Football Bowl Subdivision coaches wins list. ... Thomas finished the season with 524 rushing yards to lead the team. He's the first quarterback to lead the Hokies in rushing for a season since Bobby Owens in 1965. ... Virginia Tech's 3 rushing yards are the fewest in a win under Beamer. It's the third fewest for the team during Beamer's 26 seasons in Blacksburg. ... Virginia Tech went 3-0 in overtime games in 2012. ... Rutgers had as many touchdowns on defense this season (six) as it did rushing. ... Rutgers' first-quarter touchdown was only the fifth non-offensive touchdown scored against the Hokies in a bowl game.
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