Slept On It: Epic Goal Line Stand Helps Hokies Top Pitt

Reflecting on Reggie Floyd, the goal line stand and Maurice Ffrench's extra "f" after a good night's rest.

[Mark Umansky]

Jester Weah beat Brandon Facyson's coverage and seamlessly darted through Mook Reynolds. He turned upfield and scampered down the sideline toward the end zone. Mouth agape, words started pouring out of my brain. The column was writing itself.

"Pitt happened again."

"What a terrible way for these seniors to go out."

"We are witnessing an end-of-season collapse no one saw coming."

While I was in the midst of writing my master's thesis a number of years ago, I would walk the streets of Philadelphia writing and re-writing paragraphs out loud. Hearing myself say the words was the easiest way for me to proofread my own thoughts. I would pass the same people on my walks to and from classes and the gym, and I would venture to guess that a number of them thought I was weird. In all honesty, it was weird.

So there I was sitting on the couch while the replay officials scrutinized the spot of the football when Weah's knee hit the turf, and I was writing this column outloud. It was a column that you'll never read, because the Tech defense staged an unbelievable quartet of stops on the succeeding four snaps.

Finishing. Read any of the post game comments and you will see that word pop up time and again. It was the way Andrew Motuapuaka, Greg Stroman and their fellow seniors finished their careers in Lane Stadium. It was the way Reggie Floyd refused to give up on Weah and ultimately finished the play by bringing him down short of the goal line. It was the way that the entire defense banded together to finish each of the final four goal line plays.

When we think back to Saturday's unbelievable finish, we will remember those last four stops. Those plays will live on in our minds (and the interweb) thanks to BilldozerVT's video. But let's not forget what Reggie Floyd did to make that last stanza possible. Bud Foster singled out Floyd's refusal to quit during his postgame comments.

"I'll tell you this, the play of the game was Reggie Floyd not giving up on that play," said Foster. "We talk to our kids every day about finishing and today was a big part of it. Every blade of glass is critical, and you talk about a big-time effort. I'll have to look at the film, but I know that big Timmy Settle and Ricky Walker and Tremaine Edmunds and Andrew Motuapuaka, I know those guys were going to be playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage, but the play of the game was that play and giving us a chance to go finish it."

Think back to that play for a moment. What was going through your mind as Weah ran towards paydirt? Was it some variation of, "Oh no"? Were you internally debating whether or not the Tech offense had it in them to get into field goal range in less than a minute? Were you already thinking ahead to UVa and the realistic end to Tech's era of dominance? Were you wondering if Maurice Ffrench's parents misspelled their last name on his birth certificate?

(Since we're sharing: I muttered an R-rated version of "Oh no" (remember, mouth agape); I'm still not convinced the offense could have given Brian Johnson a realistic shot at a game winning field goal; I was and continue to be terrified of the Hokies' Black Friday date with the Hoos; and I'm convinced this is the only explanation.)

A week after watching Georgia Tech beat the Hokies on an 80-yard game winning touchdown pass, Pitt looked to be on their way to making it two in a row. What Floyd did says a lot; a lot about both this team's character and the impact the coaching staff has had on these players. The Hokies were in the midst of a late season slide and on the verge of an all-out collapse. I'm not suggesting that those thoughts immediately enter into the minds of players in moments like that, but watch the tape and you're struck by Floyd's heart.

When asked whether he had been coached to make that type of play or if he thought he had a chance to catch Weah, Floyd laughed and said, "Both. I just couldn't picture our team losing like that in the last seconds. So, it was just instincts to just chase him down before he got into the end zone."

Effort like that is inspiring. It gave Floyd and his teammates a shot to hold on for the win, even if most in attendance assumed that a Pitt go-ahead touchdown was a fait accompli.

Over the last few weeks, we've collectively worried a little about the state of the Hokies. The offense has struggled to consistently move the football against the meat of the ACC schedule. The defense continues to be hampered by chunk plays that negate long periods of dominance. And after a blissful season and a half, the coaching staff has drawn the ire of some fans.

Rational fans have continued to recognize that this team was far from a finished product. Tech's relied on youth at a number of key positions. But those same rational fans had every right to fret when a superior Virginia Tech team was on the verge of dropping another game in frustrating fashion.

What I've found interesting about this year's team is that they have been successful despite being relatively devoid of star players. There are a lot of good players that have been around for a long time and a ton of emerging talent, but outside of Tremaine Edmunds, Greg Stroman and Cam Phillips the Hokies have succeeded in 2017 more as a collective than on the backs of a few individuals. So it only made sense that the defense banded together during that final minute to play their roles and hold the line. Outside of the third down fade that Greg Stroman knocked away, the Hokies swarmed to the football each and every play. They won as a group.

"The goal line stand was special and memorable and something we'll talk about for a long time," remarked Justin Fuente. "I'm not sure everybody understands the emotion that those players are going through when they're on top of the mountain, it's fourth down, the crowd's into it and all of a sudden a guy's running the length of the field. You've got to find a way to get him on the ground which we did, and you've got to regroup yourself to go play defense again. For our guys to have the mental toughness to respond in an adverse situation is something I'm really proud of."

After a fourth down play that felt like the end of something, the final four plays felt like the beginning of something.

Heading into a rivalry game against an opponent that suddenly looks truly formidable for the first time in many of these players' careers, the atmosphere surrounding this team has changed dramatically. The way that the Hokies held on to win will have a lasting impact that can carry over to the next game. It wasn't a fluky Hail Mary that gave them the W, but rather four consecutive stops with little-to-no margin for error. It was the definition of a "team win."

Comments

Start of something: 2004 GT comes to mind. Or any game after NC State.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

At the end of 2004, a terrible Penn State team needed to beat a bad Indiana team and it came down to a goal line stand at the end of the game. Penn State stopped Indiana and won the game.

The players and coaches noted that that goal line stand was a major turning point for the team - and the next year they went 11-1 and almost went to the national championship game (had it not been for Iowa, thank goodness). The turnaround can be real!

It was only a matter of time before this showed up on Twitter. Eat Shit Pitt.

This is my favorite thing right now

"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

I could cry

I don't know if I'll ever get tired of this video

Lots of complaints on the boards about the refs. That was originally a touchdown and when the game was on the line the refs made the right call and brought the ball back out. I went from being pissed and yelling expletives at 4am, to continually mutter "come on, come on, come on.... YES!!!!", to elation and finally a good 2 and half hours sleep before I had to wake up for my daughter's swim practice.

It was a hellish game, capped by a hell of a stand.

And rightly so complaining about the refs. As a few examples, Pfaff gets flagged for being too far up field on the 2 point conversion, but the refs completely missed #66 (all 6-4, 310 lbs of him) 6 yards down the field on that trick play for a TD by Pitt. And the absolute travesty of uncalled holding against our D Line has had real effects on the last three games.

ACC refs suck.

The timeout on the 4th down sack pushed me over the edge. They literally waited until the play was done (and we practically sealed the game) then decided a timeout had indeed been called. Never in my life have I seen that happen. If you don't get the whistle before the play starts then you didn't call the timeout, pretty simple.

That timeout was legit. The Head Linesman stops the play and starts running in a couple seconds before the snap. The play kept going simply because it was so loud.

-@no1hokie86

Really? I saw a field level replay that didn't have any whistles until the guy is basically sacked. I don't see how the head linesman can say there was a timeout called and then not blow his whistle like crazy to stop it.

Craigerton is right, I watched the linesman run out blowing the whistle before the ball was snapped and laughed as Pickett got crushed because the players couldn't hear the whistle because it was so dang loud. Would have rather liked to see us end the game on that sack right there but of course the Hokies have a flair for the dramatic and wanted to take a few more years off my short life.

Fine, I hereby retract my many curses and unthrow my hat and keys from the ground.

Sadly true, my father in law standing next to me saw the Pitt coach yelling and waving his arms before the snap for the time out.

At least they didn't call a foul.

For a play after a timeout, that one went all the way.

I'm also pretty sure that he didn't catch the ball cleanly anyway.

exit light

Glad someone else thought that too. I want to know what TV angle they used to "confirm" it. Should have been "the play stands as called." Were those PAC-12 Refs? That was very Sugar-Bowlish (DANNY CAUGHT THAT BALL)

Go Hokies

The radio guys were talking about the problem with this review was that it was only an ACC Network production, and not ESPN, so there weren't as many camera angles available for replay. From what they showed on TV, there wasn't enough to overturn the call. Should have only been a "stands" call.

That this happens in a Power 5 conference game, especially one that is televised, is ridiculous. There should be cameras on both sides and the back of both endzones, as well as multiple cameras covering the LOS.

it also probably didn't help that it was a supposed field goal attempt and therefore not as many cameras were likely tracking the action. the jumbotron seemed to only show the replay angle directly behind the goal post which didn't show anything worth seeing regarding him catching it cleanly or not.

- "And now Miami wants to talk about it..."

my "oh no" moment?

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

'Think back to that play for a moment. What was going through your mind as Weah ran towards paydirt?'

I swear to God, right before the play began, I thought, 'Fuck Matt Ryan'.

Right before the goal line stand, I had zero confidence going to Charlottesville and getting a W...right after the 4th down stuffing, I felt like there is absolutely no way we can't win. That stand certainly could've been a fork in the road for this program...I think they took the side with the positive outcome.

"I'm a Miller Lite guy, always have been, since I was 8." -John Daly

Anybody else surprised by the emotion in CJFs voice during the presses? I think it was the seniors and just what it all meant for them. For a guy that is usually Mr calm, cool, and collected, he was downright emo. I love this guy.

"Don't go to, go through"

He was choking up before the game during the senior entrances too. Was an emotional day for the team

The review of the tackle gave our guys a chance to regroup. I think if it is a clear tackle or out-of-bounds play, Pitt likely lines up quickly and runs a play. I could be wrong, but either way the goal line stand was beautiful to watch.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

The way that the Hokies held on to win will have a lasting impact that can carry over to the next game.

This. Not only giving the defense a little edge the way they banded together, but the team as a whole. I think this leaches over to the offense and somehow, some way, perhaps in ugly fashion, we simply do not break the streak at UVA.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

I think how this effort affected Fuente could leach over to the offense. Bud Foster, no matter how much he might get in a players face, has NEVER said or indicated he had no confidence in this players. THAT is the difference in performance between the offense and defense. Coaches have a profound affect on their players psychologically. Bud, being incredibly experiences, knows this. Those players held on because their coach believed in them. Even the best defenses have a hard time with 4 down goal line stands.

I think how this effort affected Fuente could leach over to the offense. Bud Foster, no matter how much he might get in a players face, has NEVER said or indicated he had no confidence in this players. THAT is the difference in performance between the offense and defense. Coaches have a profound affect on their players psychologically.

I may be repeating what many said last week, but I think Fuente was way too transparent about the offense's weaknesses after Miami and GT.

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

Pierson, I love this column. You hit the perfect notes each week. Excellent work, my man.

Dear Coach Fuente,

Kick the field goal earlier in the game and this all is a moot point. If you can't score, please take the freaking points when they are there for the taking

Sincerely,

Kick the freaking field goals and extra points- last 3 freaking games

He did kick the field goal in the second quarter and again at the beginning of the fourth to get within a point. He went for it on 4th and 3 in the third quarter rather than attempting a 44 yard field goal with the backup kicker. I think that's the right move.

A month ago we loved Fuente's aggressiveness. He mismanaged the GT game but I'm not going to second guess his every move because it backfired once.

A month ago we loved Fuente's aggressiveness. He mismanaged the GT game but I'm not going to second guess his every move because it backfired once.

100% This.
There weren't a lot of complaints when went for it on 4th and 1 in the hurricane last year vs. a ranked UNC team.

Go Hokies

44 yarder wither swirling wind by a back-up kicker? Going for it was definitely the right move there.

'Think back to that play for a moment. What was going through your mind as Weah ran towards paydirt?'

Not thinking, but yelling "ARE YOU F@#$%&* KIDDING ME?" so loud in the NEZ I'm sure the fans in the SEZ could hear it.

It's been a rough November for VT football, so I'm glad we (finally) have some optimism heading into UVA.

"After a fourth down play that felt like the end of something, the final four plays felt like the beginning of something."
- Nailed my thoughts exactly. Prior to that stand, I could easily have seen us dropping the UVA game and fading into the offseason with a ton of questions. After it, I could see us rallying to win out the season and using the bowl game practices to further season this group of young skill payers. A friend just asked me if I thought JJ would be the starter next year. My response was "If his R_freshman 'learning year' season is a 10 win season, then either he will be better next year, or the guy that beats him out will be better." I like where this team COULD be heading.

"After a fourth down play that felt like the end of something, the final four plays felt like the beginning of something."

That is a great sentence right there.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

I was having flashbacks to the 2013 season when things fell apart at the end after the loss to Duke. This game reminded me a lot of the Maryland game that season actually. Fortunately, this team seems to have not mastered the art of losing (not that they have mastered the art of winning, but that will come with more talent). Since the Sugar Bowl against Michigan all the way to the end of 2015, the team really seemed to have mastered the art of losing. Bring on UVA.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.

It's been awhile since I've logged in and posted. I'm reminded of the defensive stand (though not goal line) against Miami for the de facto ACC Championship in 2004. I remember the team running to where the fans were sitting and joining us in the "A-C-C" chant. Best trip to Miami I ever had.

I WAS THERE!!! Tapp crushed Miami's dreams that series. So great.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I couldn't watch the game live, but I knew what had happened by the time I watched the replay. I still pumped my fist after seeing the 4th down tackle. Then I re-watched the last 5 minutes of the game again yesterday, and pumped my fist again after the 4th down tackle.

Reggie Floyd, you sir are my hero.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Reggie Floyd: Lunch Pail Defense-grade tackle.