AP Photo/John Bazemore Virginia Tech's Josh Morgan races past his teammates on the sideline as he scores the go-ahead touchdown on a pass from quarterback Byran Randall in the forth quarter against Georgia Tech Thursday in Atlanta.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
ATLANTA Virginia Tech just couldn't seem to get going. There were turnovers. There were botched plays. There were missed opportunities.
Then, in the last 5 1/2 minutes, Bryan Randall and the Hokies turned it all around.
Randall threw two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Roland Minor finished off Georgia Tech with a 64-yard interception return, rallying No. 22 Virginia Tech to a wild 34-20 victory Thursday night.
''It was one of the best moments of my career,'' Randall said.
The senior passed for 304 yards, also hooking up with David Clowney on a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
But Randall really shined at the end.
He threw an 80-yard scoring pass to Eddie Royal with 5:28 remaining, then completed a desperation pass for the tying 2-point conversion.
''When we tied it, we knew we had the momentum,'' Randall said. ''We didn't think our defense would give up any more points.''
But Georgia Tech's did. On the Hokies' next series, Randall ran for 32 yards, then connected with Josh Morgan on a 51-yard TD with 3:10 remaining.
Minor, a redshirt freshman, intercepted two passes by Reggie Ball in the final 2 1/2 minutes, returning the second for a touchdown that capped a 25-point fourth quarter by the Hokies (6-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-3) scored two touchdowns less than a minute apart in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. But the Yellow Jackets couldn't hold it, their highly ranked defense falling apart in the final period.
After giving up a total of 265 yards in its two previous games, the Yellow Jackets were burned for 446 yards in this one.
''It hurts to let one get away like this, where we thought we were in pretty good shape going into the fourth quarter,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ''We gave up some big plays and just couldn't sustain anything offensively.''
Randall completed 18 of 31 passes and also played a big role in the running game, accounting for 64 yards on nine carries.
Georgia Tech was looking good after Travis Bell kicked his second field goal, a 34-yarder with 5:44 remaining for a 20-12 lead.
On the very next snap, Virginia Tech went all the way to the end zone. Randall spotted Royal standing alone along the sideline, the result of blown coverage when Georgia Tech safety Dawan Landry was lured away by the tight end. Royal caught the ball at the 50, cut back across the field and went all the way to the end zone.
Needing a 2-point conversion to tie, Randall rolled right and, with two defenders in his face, heaved a pass across his body to Richard Johnson, who was all alone for the catch that made it 20-all.
''It was meant for the pass to be to the right side,'' Randall said. ''I happened to glance back there and saw Richard waving his hand.''
Virginia Tech wasn't done. After the Yellow Jackets went three-and-out, Randall pushed the Hokies near midfield with his long run, then caught Georgia Tech on a cornerback blitz.
Morgan ran right by safety James Butler and hauled in the pass on the run at about the 35, cruising the rest of the way to put Virginia Tech ahead for the first time all night.
On a foggy night in downtown Atlanta, the Hokies survived a wacky game. There were seven turnovers, 173 yards in penalties and plenty of head-scratching plays.
Ball inexplicably ran out of the back of the end zone in the third quarter to give Virginia Tech a safety. The Hokies had to settle for a field goal early in the fourth quarter after having first-and-goal inside the Georgia Tech 1.
''Things were going wrong,'' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. ''It looked like every time things were turning around for us, we did something else (wrong).''
Turnovers set the tone in the first half.
Randall fumbled deep in Georgia Tech territory, while P.J. Daniels lost the ball twice on the Hokies side of the field.
After Daniels' second fumble, Randall gave the ball right back with an ill-advised pass over the middle that was picked off by Butler and returned to the Hokies 39.
Finally, someone took advantage. Ball threw a 27-yard pass to Nate Curry, then hooked up with Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.
Virginia Tech couldn't even get its offense back on the field. On the ensuing kickoff, Royal was hit from behind and fumbled the ball away, with Jamal Lewis recovering at the Hokies 28.
Ball completed a 15-yard pass to Darius Williams, then Daniels redeemed himself for the fumbles with a 13-yard scamper around left end to give the Yellow Jackets a two-touchdown lead, the scores coming just 46 seconds apart.
Bell's 46-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the first half sent Georgia Tech to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.
''To come back after that, boy, it took some big-time players,'' Beamer said.
No one was bigger than Randall.
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