After missing a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game against
He put the miss behind him in a matter of minutes, blocked out the building pressure and, when he was called upon to trot onto the field again, he delivered – twice.
Journell nailed a game-tying 41-yard field goal as time expired in regulation, and made a 17-yard field goal in overtime to give Virginia Tech to a 20-17 victory. His kicks and a late flurry of offense in what was an otherwise sluggish performance saved No. 16 Virginia Tech from suffering its fourth loss in its last five season-openers.
"I just tried to let everything go and do what I needed to do," said Journell, who added he didn't follow through on his 38-yard miss and pulled the kick left. "I knew what I did the first time, so I just made sure I didn't make the same mistake."
It was the first overtime game ever played in Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech lost to Michigan 23-20 in overtime last season in the Sugar Bowl, but Virginia Tech hadn't played a regular season overtime game since 2003, when it defeated Temple 24-23 in Philadelphia.
Journell’s kick in overtime marked the first time Virginia Tech won a game on the final play since 1999, when
Virginia Tech (1-0 overall, 1-0
“I think we just were more efficient,” said Virginia Tech coach
Thomas picked up 132 yards on four pass plays during Virginia Tech’s final two drives in regulation, including completions of 35 yards to wide receiver Marcus Davis, a 42-yard touchdown pass to receiver Demitri Knowles and connections of 22 and 23 yards to receiver
"We could've done that the whole entire time," Thomas said. "It was just the small things that kept us from doing it. A couple drives, I'd have a man wide-open and just miss him. That was just all on my back. I was joking with (quarterbacks) coach (Mike) O'Cain, 'If we don't win this game, I might not be here tomorrow.'"
Last season, Georgia Tech's option offense was second in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 316 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets posted just 192 yards on 55 carries (3.5 yards per carry) against the Hokies.
Quarterback Tevin Washington, who was 10 of 15 passing for 96 yards, a touchdown and an interception, led Georgia Tech with 63 yards rushing. Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1) finished the game with 288 yards.
The conclusion of the game was redemption in many ways for Journell, who was reinstated to the team in July after being indefinitely suspended in December.
He was charged along with two other men with felony breaking and entering last December stemming from an incident that took place in Blacksburg at the residence of former Virginia Tech men's basketball player Dorenzo Hudson and involved a drug transaction, according to police.
In May, Journell's charge was reduced to misdemeanor trespassing. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
"I've already agreed not to talk about anything that happened last season," said Journell after the game when asked about the legal issue.
His kick at the end of regulation came just 44 seconds after Georgia Tech capped a 13-play, 72-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Washington to running back Deon Hill. The touchdown gave Georgia Tech its first lead of the game at 17-14.
"It was pretty deflating," said Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler, who had a game-high 17 tackles. "Just because all the hard work we'd put in all summer to prepare for this game that was the last thing you wanted was to throw it away with less than a minute left, especially on a play where we practiced that play all week. We kind of busted that play.
"At the same time, no one got down. No one was yelling at each other. We kind of stayed together and told each other we were going to kick a field goal and go to overtime and that's what happened."
Though Georgia Tech's option doesn't offer much of a reputation as a passing attack, Washington was 5 of 6 passing for 33 yards on the touchdown drive. Washington completed a 19-yard pass to running back B.J. Bostic on fourth-and-6 from Virginia Tech's 37-yard line with 2:53 remaining to keep the drive alive.
Washington eluded defensive end J.R. Collins in the backfield on the play, and completed the pass despite the fact Bostic was covered by strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett, free safety Detrick Bonner and cornerback Antone Exum.
After Hill's touchdown catch, Virginia Tech moved in three plays from its own 25 to Georgia Tech's 47, where the Hokies would face fourth-and-4 with 13 seconds left. Thomas hit Fuller for a 23-yard gain on a slant pattern to Georgia Tech's 24. Virginia Tech, which had all three of its timeouts left at the start of the final possession in regulation, used its second timeout to set up Journell's game-tying field goal.
Georgia Tech, which finished with 288 yards, got the first possession in overtime, but Washington was picked off on the third play while being pressured by linebacker Bruce Taylor. Washington lofted a pass toward the goal line he hoped would make it out-of-bounds, but cornerback Kyle Fuller picked it off.
"There was no point after that (Georgia Tech fourth quarter) touchdown that I didn't think we were going to come back and win that game," Kyle Fuller said.
Virginia Tech kept the ball on the ground after Washington's interception, pounding it to the 1 with the help of an 18-yard run by Michael Holmes, who led Virginia Tech with 13 carries for 54 yards. Journell's game-winner came on fourth down.
Considering Virginia Tech had struggled to sustain drives early in the game, only moving into Georgia Tech's red zone once in its first 10 possessions, the Hokies' chances of winning actually seemed grim after David Scully put the Yellow Jackets up 10-7 with 14:57 left in the fourth quarter via a 34-yard field goal.
His field goal essentially finished off a dominant third quarter for Georgia Tech, which held the ball for 12 minutes and 55 seconds in the quarter, accumulating 85 yards in the process. Virginia Tech was held to minus-7 yards in the quarter.
Journell's missed 38-yard field goal with 11:27 remaining in the fourth quarter didn't help matters. Virginia Tech's offense didn't come alive until it took over with 9:16 left.
On second-and-12 from Virginia Tech's 23, Thomas hit Davis on a slant pattern for a 35-yard gain to Georgia Tech's 42. Davis fumbled at the end of the play, but Corey Fuller managed to fall on the ball to preserve Virginia Tech's possession.
Thomas wasted no time going to the air again, finding Knowles on the other end of a high-arching pass for a 42-yard touchdown with 7:46 left to put Virginia Tech ahead 14-10. Knowles was only in the game because Davis suffered an injury on the 35-yard completion.
"I talked to my dad a little bit before (the game), and he was like, 'Even though you're not going to start, whenever you get in, you make the most of it'" Knowles said. "I think that's what I did. He should be proud of me, I guess."
It was Knowles' first career catch. On the catch, he streaked up the field past Georgia Tech cornerback Rod Sweeting, who was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on Knowles' touchdown catch. The penalty was declined.
Beamer said Knowles' speed reminds of him former Virginia Tech receiver Bryan Still, who played for the Hokies from 1992 to '95, finishing his career with 74 catches for 1,458 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"He'd run by them the same way," Beamer said. "I don't think that's going to be the last defensive back (Knowles) runs by."