CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. — Making catches in critical situations wasn't what concerned Virginia Tech tight end Randall Dunn and wide receiver Marcus Davis. Dunn had run the play so many times in practice he could do it in his sleep, while Davis was no stranger to gameday pressure situations.
For Dunn, the problem was the fifth-year senior never actually had the opportunity to be a primary target in crunch time. Davis? He simply wanted a chance at redemption after a brutal week, and it didn't come in a first half Saturday at Boston College where he never saw the field.
The big moment finally arrived for Dunn, who was also a teammate of Davis' at Ocean Lakes High in Virginia Beach, in the first start of Dunn's college career. He made the most of it in overtime with a 7-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone to lead Tech to a 30-23 victory.
The win kept Tech's bowl hopes alive heading into next Saturday's regular-season finale against Virginia, and snapped Tech's seven-game losing streak away from Lane Stadium.
"I just did what I normally do in practice," said Dunn, who got one foot down in the back of the end zone on the touchdown catch. "I gave the move that I would normally give to a scout team guy. The guy from Boston College bit on it, and the back of the end zone came open. I just made the play that I've always made every week since we've been running the play."
Tech (5-6 overall, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished with 401 yards, while BC had 291 yards. Tech quarterback Logan Thomas completed 16 of 33 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but the pass to Dunn will be one he remembers.
"Randall actually talked to me on Thursday when we were practicing," Thomas said. "It was our two-point (conversion) play, but we pulled it out when we needed it. He said, 'Go ahead and throw it up there. I can go get it.' I laughed at him, but I guess it came in handy today."
Despite the win, which also put an end to a three-game losing streak, Tech's flickering hopes of winning the ACC Coastal Division officially came to an end Saturday when Georgia Tech defeated Duke 42-24.
Davis made his presence felt in a few ways in the second half, including a 33-yard over-the-shoulder catch on second-and-7 to help move Tech move to BC's 37 on the Hokies' final drive in regulation. It led Tech to a goalpost-grazing 41-yard field goal by Cody Journell to tie the game 23-23 with 1:05 left.
In addition to the 33-yard reception, Davis wrestled a third-and-16 pass away from cornerback Sean Sylvia with 1:12 left in the third quarter for a 37-yard touchdown, giving Tech its first lead 17-13.
Davis, who had five catches for 104 yards in the second half, was the subject of a two-minute, one-second video produced by the techsideline.com website that went viral Monday by finding its way to the popular Deadspin website.
The video showed nine plays from Tech's 28-22 loss to Florida State on Nov. 8 where he failed on blocking assignments. Davis, who had started 13 consecutive games, was benched for the entire first half against BC.
"I didn't play good last Thursday," said Davis regarding the reason he was given by coaches for not starting. "It was that simple. I told myself, 'I've got to play better.' So, all week I've been just trying to fight. Just get away from what everyone was talking about — this and that, this and that, just trying to throw me off."
Tech coach Frank Beamer said the coaching staff didn't predetermine an amount of time for Davis to sit out against BC (2-9, 1-6). Instead, Beamer insisted it just worked out that way.
"It wasn't just for the first half," said Beamer, whose team trailed BC 13-3 at halftime. "We always base things on performance, and who starts and who plays goes right back to performance. I'm glad that he didn't hang his head and came back and made some big plays."
After bouncing back to take the lead on Davis' touchdown catch, BC recovered and eventually took the lead again 23-20 on a 12-yard touchdown run by David Dudeck with 4:11 left in the game. BC quarterback Chase Rettig was sacked seven times, but the Eagles were effective running the ball, with Rolandan Finch gaining 140 yards on 26 carries.
"In both situations, the Florida State game and (the BC game), the offense went down and made a play and (the defense) didn't step up," said Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor, who joined linebacker Alonzo Tweedy with two sacks each against BC. "That's kind of frustrating … We kept fighting and kept pushing and got the 'W.'"Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times