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November 24, 2007

No. 8 Virginia Tech wins Coastal Division

Box score

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia Tech coaches' booth in the press box was a room full of proud papas Saturday.

The coaches' kids, in this case quarterbacks Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, are learning to share.

Glennon and Taylor split snaps and shared glory on nearly every possession of Virginia Tech's 33-21 win over Virginia. Thanks to the quarterback rotation, Virginia Tech's offense is streaking into the ACC Championship Game against Boston College next week.

In the ACC Coastal Division elimination game Saturday, the Hokies not only captured the Commonwealth Cup, they also kept alive their hope of their second ACC championship and a BCS bowl bid.

Glennon and Taylor combined for 289 yards and all three of Virginia Tech's touchdowns against Virginia's formerly stingy defense.

"This is our baby," Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. "It's our team and what we do."

Modeled somewhat after the way Florida utilized the differing strengths of senior pocket passer Chris Leak and freshman running threat Tim Tebow last year, Virginia Tech (10-2, 7-1 ACC) has done the same in its rotation.

However, the Hokies took the rotation to the extreme changing quarterbacks 20 times.

The Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2) knew what was coming because Virginia Tech already unleashed its two-headed monster for 84 combined points against Florida State and Miami in the last two weeks.

But just because Virginia knew what was coming didn't mean that the Cavs could stop the Hokies.

"There have been some good decisions made in that offensive room," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "You look at (the quarterbacks), and each of them had some big, big plays. Our whole offensive coaching staff has done a good job of not only doing it, but doing it in an efficient manner. It's hard on Bryan Stinespring because you have to be ready to call it 'right now.'"

The Hokies seemed to call for the right quarterback at the right time without fail against Virginia.

Take Virginia Tech's first possession of the game, for example. After a 43-yard kickoff return, Glennon started the game under center. He faked a handoff and found Eddie Royal for a 16-yard gain on a passing play. On the next play, Glennon handed to Branden Ore for an 8-yard gain.

Coaches then called Glennon off the field for Taylor.

Virginia Tech 33, Virginia 21
Offensive player(s) of the game
Sean Glennon, Branden Ore and Eddie Royal. Virginia Tech's starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver all had their best days of the season. Glennon completed 13 of 19 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Ore ran for a season-high 147 yards, and Royal had a season high 147 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Defensive player of the game
Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers turned in the defensive play of the day with his interception in the final minute of the first half. Virginia led 14-13 and had the momentum before Flowers' pick. The interception set up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Glennon to Royal that gave the Hokies a 20-14 halftime lead.
Turning point
Beamerball swung the game into the Hokies' favor for good when true freshman Davon Morgan blocked a Virginia punt in the third quarter. All the Hokies got from the block was a field goal (one of Jud Dunlevy's four on the day), but it gave Virginia Tech a two-score lead at 23-14. The Cavs never recovered.
Key stat
20. Times Virginia Tech switched its quarterback against Virginia.
What this means for Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech clinched the Coastal Division title and will have a rematch with Boston College in the ACC Championship Game next week in Jacksonville, Fla. The Hokies have played in two of three ACC title games.
What this means for Virginia
The Cavaliers lost their opportunity to play for their first ACC title since 1995, when Virginia shared the championship with Florida State. The Cavaliers finished as one of five teams to improve by at least four wins over last season.
Frank Beamer is 6-1 against Al Groh in the series. Virginia Tech finished with double-digit wins for the fourth consecutive season, a first in school history. Lost in the game was the play of Virginia's quarterback, Jameel Sewell. Sewell was 15 of 24 for 121 yards and an interception to go with 13 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He was briefly knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury. He returned on the next possession. When Virginia led Virginia Tech 14-13 in the second quarter it was the first time the Cavs took a lead over the Hokies since leading 7-0 in the third quarter of the 2004 game.
The true freshman ran away from Virginia defensive end Chris Long, an All-America candidate, and threw an 8-yard pass to Royal. On the next play, Taylor scampered 9 yards into the end zone on a keeper for the game's first touchdown.

The drive consisted of four plays, 41 yards, two quarterbacks and seven points.

By the end of the game, Glennon ran 28 offensive plays, Taylor ran 23. The game was a textbook example of their respective strengths.

Glennon gave Virginia Tech a vertical passing game with his ability to pass from the pocket and pick on weak spots in the defense. He completed one deep ball to Royal for a 56-yard gain in the first quarter. He later added a 39-yard touchdown completion to Royal in the final 12 seconds of the first half to give Virginia Tech a 20-14 lead.

The junior finished with one of his best days as a Hokie, completing 13 of 19 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor wouldn't be outdone, though. To start the fourth quarter, Glennon took Virginia Tech 63 yards to the Cavaliers' 5-yard line. On third and goal - his first play of the possession - Taylor entered the game and ran the ball into the end zone.

The play was a run-pass option, and coaches said he may have given up on the passing option a little too quickly. However, Taylor still scored to give the Hokies a 30-21 lead. That TD proved to be the backbreaker for Virginia.

"Today was a perfect example of getting the best out of both of them," Beamer said. "When you get two quarterbacks that are so different, it adds something to our offense."

The two-quarterback system wasn't an easy evolution. Glennon began the season as the starter but was replaced in the second game of the season following a 48-7 loss at LSU. It was apparent then that the struggles of the offensive line would necessitate a more mobile quarterback. Taylor started the next six games before an ankle injury knocked him out of two contests.

While Taylor was out, Glennon proved to be more effective. He forced Stinespring to decide between a healthy Taylor and an improving Glennon for a Nov. 10 game against Florida State.

The solution was to play both, and play them a lot.

"The week of the Florida State game, Coach Stinespring said we were going to rotate," said Taylor, who completed four of six passes for 39 yards and ran for 17 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. "At first, me and Sean were iffy about it. But it's been working out."

Neither quarterback would have had a chance Saturday against Virginia if the line didn't hold Long in check. The Virginia star entered the game with 12 sacks and 17 tackles for losses, but he was also recovering from strep throat.

The Hokies mixed up their looks for Long and the Virginia defensive line. Tech doubled Long with the tight end and offensive tackle on some plays, and used the tackle and guard on others. The Hokies either ran plays away from Long or had Branden Ore run up the middle.

On the same day he had his No. 91 jersey retired, Long finished with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. It would be a big day for most other players, but the Hokies were pleased with holding Long to those totals.

Partly because of all the attention paid to Long, linebacker Clint Sintim finished with three sacks.

"They mixed it up across the board," Long said. "They mixed up running plays the direction where they were running it and the gaps where they were running. They mixed in some play action and took some shots. It was a well-orchestrated game plan."

Rather than Long, the Hokies defensive unit was the star of the day.

Tech held Virginia to 241 yards of offense, the Cavaliers lowest total since a 23-3 loss to Wyoming in the season opener. Virginia Tech also sacked Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell six times and forced two turnovers.

ACC Atlantic Division champion Boston College is familiar with that side of Virginia Tech after the Hokies shut out BC for nearly 58 minutes in their first meeting on Oct. 25 in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech's struggling offense could only muster 10 points that Thursday night, and Boston College won 14-10 with a fourth-quarter rally.

This time, Boston College will find a new and improved Virginia Tech offense when the two former Big East foes meet for the ACC title next week.

The question will be which improved Hokies quarterback will be running the plays.

"We feel like we have two quarterbacks that are too good for one to sit on the bench," Glennon said. "You rotate running backs, you rotate receivers, you rotate tight ends, why not rotate quarterbacks?"

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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