for this game

Taylor leads Virginia Tech to surge past Florida State

Nov 11, 2007 - 3:25 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- In a game that featured a number of key injuries, it was Virginia Tech freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor that kept the Hokies' Atlantic Coast Conference title hopes alive.

Taylor came off the bench to throw for 204 yards and two touchdowns - and also ran for the go-ahead score - as No. 11 Virginia Tech defeated Florida State, 40-21, in an ACC showdown on Saturday.

"I'm obviously pleased to beat a really talented, well-coached and hard-playing football team," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "If you can beat Florida State, you've done something. But to me, it's not so much that streak as it is a critical win in the home stretch of going for the ACC championship."

Taylor had missed the last two games with a sprained ankle but proved to be the difference in a physical game that featured both starting quarterbacks and running backs being knocked out of the game due to injuries.

"I felt very comfortable," Taylor said. "It kind of threw the defense off at first because they didn't know who to prepare for."

Sean Glennon left in the first quarter with a head injury while Florida State's Drew Weatherford was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a hit in the second quarter and also did not return.

With normal backup quarterback Xavier Lee suspended for academic reasons, freshman Christian Ponder came on in relief for the Seminoles and completed 8-of-18 passes for 105 yards with one touchdown and two key fourth-quarter interceptions.

Florida State running back Antone Smith left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and Hokies running back Branden Ore left with an injured left ankle in the third.

Trailing, 21-20, with under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Taylor took a quarterback draw up the middle for a three-yard score to give the Hokies a 28-21 lead after the two-point conversion.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was especially impressed with the Hokies' freshman quarterback.

"I didn't expect to see the second coming of (Michael) Vick," Bowden said. "We couldn't tackle that guy. We'd get in a position - on that 3rd-and-a-million, he ran. Couldn't tackle him."

Virginia Tech then forced three turnovers from Ponder - including a five-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Ellis to put the game out of reach.

The win also allows Virginia Tech (8-2, 5-1 ACC Coastal) to remain one-half game behind Virginia (9-2, 6-1 Coastal) in the ACC. The Hokies will travel to Virginia on November 24 with a chance to go to the conference championship game, regardless of what happens in their meeting with Miami next week.

"There were some great plays at the end," Beamer said. "I'm really proud of our football team, our coaches, the whole deal. What this means is we're still in the ACC championship race.

"I feel like we have things rolling well. I worry about injuries, but I feel really good about the way this thing ended up."

Taylor completed his first two passes for touchdowns - a 31-yard score to Justin Harper and a five-yarder to Josh Morgan - to give Virginia Tech a 13-6 lead with 12:29 left in the first half.

"Coming into this game, we knew from a receiver standpoint that we were going to have a chance to make a lot of plays because (FSU) plays a lot of man (coverage)," Harper said. "We feel like we can run by anybody, and Coach Beamer gave us the opportunity to do that tonight."

Ore's two-yard touchdown gave the Hokies a 14-point halftime lead, but the Seminoles (6-4, 3-4 Atlantic) answered with 15 unanswered points in the third quarter.

Seminoles kicker Gary Cismesia made a 50-yard field goal, and linebacker Dekoda Watson returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown to trim the margin to 20-15 with over nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Ponder found De'Cody Fagg for an eight-yard touchdown. But after the Seminoles missed their second two-point conversion, Florida State held a 21-20 lead with 3:41 to play in the third quarter.

It was the first win in eight tries for Beamer against the Seminoles, as Virginia Tech prevented Bowden from winning his 300th game at Florida State.