BLACKSBURG – Though Virginia Tech got exactly what it needed Thursday night with a 28-21 win against Georgia Tech, the Hokies will have to finish their push to lock up the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division without the services of Smithfield High graduate Dyrell Roberts.
After having emergency surgery Friday morning to repair complications related to compartment syndrome in his left thigh, Roberts will miss the remainder of the regular season. He could also miss No. 20 Virginia Tech's bowl game, but he hasn't been ruled out yet, according to Tech trainer Mike Goforth.
Roberts, a 6-foot-2, 189-pound junior wide receiver and kick returner, sustained a bruise to his left thigh on a first quarter kickoff return. He came back in the game briefly, but missed most of the second half.
He's scheduled Sunday morning to have another surgery. He's expected to be released that day from Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, according to his mother, April Ridley.
Compartment syndrome "is a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells," according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. The condition requires emergency treatment and can lead to permanent muscle damage if left untreated.
Roberts is second on the team with 21 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He's also averaging 19.4 yards on 16 kickoff returns.
The injury further thins out Tech's receivers. Sophomore D.J. Coles, a backup receiver, sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a mid-October practice. He's expected to miss at least another one-to-three weeks.
With Roberts and Coles injured, sophomore Marcus Davis will likely get on the field more now behind starting junior Danny Coale. Junior Jarrett Boykin is Tech's other starting receiver.
While Tech (7-2 overall, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) must deal with the loss of Roberts before its Nov. 13 game at North Carolina (5-3, 2-2), there's still plenty for the Hokies to be optimistic about down the stretch.
Tech is the only ACC team without a conference loss. UNC and Miami (5-3, 3-2) have home games left against the Hokies, who control their own destiny on the path to the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.
Against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech fell behind by at least 14 points for the third time this season. Tech was down by 17 in the first quarter of the season-opening loss to Boise State, and bounced back from a 17-point deficit to beat N.C. State for the biggest comeback win in coach Frank Beamer's 24-year tenure.
David Wilson took over the primary kickoff return role from Roberts against Georgia Tech late in the game and returned a kick 90 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 2:23 left in the game.
Wilson also had seven carries for 39 of Virginia Tech's 198 rushing yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech. His kickoff return for a touchdown was his second of the season, including a 92-yard return to open the second half Oct. 2 in Tech's 41-30 win at North Carolina State. He's the only Tech player since the start of the 1952 season to have more than one kickoff return for a touchdown in a season.
"I could talk about what David brings to the team, but you guys see what he brings to the team," Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. "He's a highlight film waiting to happen."
Georgia Tech, which lost starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt for the season in the second quarter due to a broken right forearm, gained 346 rushing yards on 51 carries. It was the most rushing yards ever surrendered by Virginia Tech in Bud Foster's 16 seasons as defensive coordinator.
Though Foster will certainly be distressed by the yards surrendered, the Hokies still benefited from the presence of linebacker Bruce Taylor, who entered game with a high left ankle sprain. He didn't appear to suffer any lingering effects from the injury, logging a career-high 14 tackles, including two sacks.
He also helped bottle up Georgia Tech on a key fourth-and-2 stop in the third quarter at Virginia Tech's 45-yard line. Defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins and defensive end Steven Friday were credited with the tackle on Georgia Tech running back Richard Watson on the fourth-down run, but Taylor helped re-direct the play.
"We had a blitz called where I was coming off the edge and taking the quarterback," Taylor said. "I saw him hand it off, so I threw myself back in there and we gang-tackled him."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times