Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Miss It: 10-1 . . . Hit It: 11-0 Graham's FG Key to Tech's Championship Run

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Miss It: 10-1 . . . Hit It: 11-0 Graham's FG Key to Tech's Championship Run

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS -- Virginia Tech's season and its bid for the school's first national championship clearly hinged on one play -- one that had nothing to do with freshman quarterback sensation Michael Vick, or speedy defensive end Corey Moore.

Sure, without those two, Virginia Tech would be just another good college football team. But take away the biggest kick in senior Shayne Graham's career and the Hokies would be like Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan, Alabama, and a handful of other school's that are wondering what could have been.

Instead, thanks to Graham's 44-yard field goal with time expiring at West Virginia Nov. 6 , the No. 2-ranked Hokies (11-0) will face top-ranked Florida State (11-0) in Tuesday's Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with the national championship at stake.

Graham's boot gave Tech a 22-20 come-from-behind win in what turned out to be the Hokies' only close game of the season. Their next closest game was a 13-point win over Pittsburgh.

Talk about pressure on the senior kicker from Dublin, Va. The Hokies were 7-0 at the time and their hopes and dreams of a national championship came down to Graham. A win would give them a chance to move ahead of second-ranked Penn State, which had lost at home to Minnesota earlier in the day.

"I wasn't about to look back at the sideline and see what everybody was doing because that may have gotten to me," Graham said.

His game-winning heroics were first set up by Vick, the Hokies' Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback. Vick moved the team from its 15-yard line to West Virginia's 27 with just 1:15 left and no timeouts.

Graham had been in a game-winning situation before, last season at Miami. His 35-yard attempt would have given the Hokies a win in regulation. Instead, he missed, forcing the Hokies to pull out the win in overtime. …

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