I have been to more than 30 VT football games in the past eight years, and Saturday's ACC Championship game was, by far, the best. I made it to three games this year. The first was a cold, rainy, dismal loss to FCS team and in-state rival James Madison. My brother went to JMU, so needless to say, it will be a while before that loss goes away. The second was a recovery beatdown of Central Michigan, that we watched in style - my wife's former boss sent us free tickets to sit in the indoor club seats.
The third was the incredible game that saw the Hokies rip Florida State. My cousin lives just outside of Charlotte, so we couldn't pass up free lodging 15 minutes from the stadium. I took Friday off from work to drive the 5 1/2 hours down and arrived in time to go to dinner at Brixx, which has incredible wood-fired pizzas (I recommend the spicy shrimp pizza). Saturday morning we had breakfast with Santa at Red Rocks Cafe which we followed with a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some tailgating gear and grub. My cousin used his fraternity connections to find a friend-of-a-friend who owns a small gravel lot right by Bank of America Stadium. We arrived and set up out tent, table, chairs and grill and got the party started. After a few brews, burgers, and dogs, my wife and I left to head over to the ACC Fanfest, where we watched Montgomery Gentry play for a little while. They played a few of their more popular songs - Speed, Hell Yeah, My Town - and then we headed toward the stadium. After a TSA-style pat down and a "Good luck!" from the ticket scanner, we were in. We made our way up the many ramps to our seats way up in the corner, but trust me, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. We had a great view of the action, and the 45-degree angle and high-up seats allowed us to really see the plays open up. The section was 99% Virginia Tech fans, with a couple of Florida State fans right next to us.
The game got underway with Florida State moving the ball downfield and converting a field goal to start the scoring. VT got a few yards, but ultimately punted on the first possession and Florida State hoped to increase the lead. Prior to the snap of the ball, the guy in front of me said to his friend, "I'm feeling a pick-6 right now, we just haven't had one in a while...it'd be awesome." I thought yeah, that would be cool, but I'm just hoping for a defensive stop. Well, the quarterback dropped back a threw a bullet to the receiver. Our linebacker made a ridiculous move to dive and tip the ball, at which point it was intercepted by another linebacker and returned for a touchdown. VT 7, FSU 3. After another defensive stop, we moved the ball downfield thanks to some great running, and finished with another touchdown to make it 14-3. The crowd was pumped and hoping to further pull away, but FSU would put together a nice drive to get to 14-10. VT and FSU would alternate touchdowns in the second quarter to bring it to a 21-17 VT lead at halftime.
To open the third quarter, Tyrod Taylor connected with a wide open Danny Coale for a touchdown. We would finally stop FSU on their next possession, and follow it up with another touchdown to go up 35-17. FSU would score another touchdown just before the end of the third quarter to cut our lead back to 11. We looked to be headed toward a field goal on our first possession of the 4th, but Tyrod thought otherwise as he pulled a nasty cut on two FSU defenders to walk into the end zone. On the PAT, FSU blocked the kick and returned it for 2 points, making the score 41-26. We added a field goal to extend our lead and lock up the victory. FSU continued to play hard, attempting to get young Quarterback EJ Manuel some extra practice and came away with a touchdown with 7 seconds left. In true classless form, the Seminoles elected for an onside kick. VT recovered, and Tyrod Taylor took a knee to win the game. VT 44 - FSU 33