ACC: Roy Helu Jr.

Nebraska's comeback delayed by Hokies

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
8:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


BLACKSBURG, Va. -- With one play, Nebraska’s chance at a statement road win against a ranked opponent was wiped out, and so was any heart its defense had left. Several Huskers dropped to the field in sheer disbelief after Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed an improbable 81-yard pass to Danny Coale that set up the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left in the game.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Tyrod Taylor’s back-breaking pass late in the game crushed Nebraska.

The play changed the game, and the timetable for which Nebraska will make its comeback on the national stage ... not today.

For the majority of the game, it looked like Nebraska would get a statement road win against No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech. It even felt like the Huskers should’ve been leading by a touchdown or two, but they couldn’t cross the goal line and depended solely on five field goals in a 16-15 loss to Virginia Tech.

“We all take responsibility for not finishing the deal,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “You have to finish the job and we didn’t do that. Each and every guy that walked on the field had a hand in us not winning the football game. Coaches included. They made the plays. We didn’t. Pretty simple. In a game like that, you’ve got to make a play.”

Instead, Virginia Tech made two. The 81-yard pass led to Dyrell Roberts' 11-yard touchdown reception with 21 seconds left on the clock.

Nebraska, in its second season under Pelini, came into this game with the hopes of knocking off its first ranked opponent under Pelini and trying to stop an 11-game losing streak against teams ranked 20th or higher. The Cornhuskers got an all-star performance from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who had four pass breakups -- a record for defensive linemen. Quarterback Zac Lee played a respectable game, showed he can make plays with his feet, and running back Roy Helu Jr. almost single-handedly racked up as much total yardage (202) as the Hokies entire offense (278).

But it was all overshadowed by the final score, and at a storied program such as Nebraska, that’s the only thing that matters.

Extra notes on Virginia Tech-Nebraska

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
5:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


BLACKSBURG, Va. -- A few additional notes:
  • Eddie Whitley earned his first collegiate start today in place of injured cornerback Stephan Virgil, who didn't dress for today's game. Fullback Kenny Jefferson also made his first collegiate start.
  • Long snapper Collin Carroll suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and is doubtful to return. He has been replaced by senior walk-on Matt Tuttle.
  • Nebraska kicker Alex Henerey's four first-half field goals is closing in on a record. The Lane Stadium record for field goals in a game by an opponent is five by Rafael Garcia of Virginia in 1994. The stadium record is six.
  • If Virginia Tech allows Roy Helu Jr. to rush for 100 yards, it will mark the third-straight game the Hokies have allowed a 100-yard rusher. Virginia Tech hasn't done that since 2002.

Halftime: Nebraska 12, Virginia Tech 10

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
5:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Best player in the half: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He's all over the place, and he's almost single-handedly beating Virginia Tech's offensive line. It seems like he's in on every play. He's got four tackles and a half sack so far.

What team Virginia Tech needs to do: Continue to control the clock, get Ryan Williams the football, and stop giving up big plays on defense. They also need to let Tyrod Taylor run the ball. The coaches seem too afraid of him getting hurt. It's understandable, considering their inexperience at backup, but without Taylor's feet, the Hokies' offense struggles. So far they only have 72 rushing yards. Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. has more than that by himself (82).

What Nebraska needs to do: Seal the deal when in and around the red zone. The Huskers have scored on four straight possessions, but it's been all on field goals. They've been in the red zone three times -- all field goals.

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