It was a down season for the Hokies. The streak of eight straight 10-win seasons game to an end, no first team all conference selection on either side of the ball for the first time since the early Big East years, and once the final rankings are out, the streak of 13 consecutive top 20 finishes will also fall by the wayside.
The Hokies still finished with a winning record for the 20th straight season, played in a 20th straight bowl game, and beat the Boohoos for the ninth straight year. In all of that, we found 10 moments that we can look back on and remember fondly.
No. 1 - Antone Exum’s fourth-quarter interception vs. Rutgers
Trailing 10-3, and showing no signs of life on offense, the Hokies needed a big play to get a some kind, any kind of momentum. Antone Exum gave them exactly that with this pick that set up the game-tying touchdown.
No. 2 - Antone Exum’s fourth-quarter interception vs. U.Va.
Tech came into their regular season finale vs. Virginia with a record of 5-6 and needing a win to become bowl eligible. With the game tied at 14 late in the fourth quarter, Exum came up big with this interception. The Hokies ran the clock down and set up Cody Journell’s game-winning field goal as time expired to beat the Hoos for the ninth straight year and earn a 20th straight bowl invite.
No. 3 - Cody Journell FGs to beat Georgia Tech in the season opener
Coming into the 2012 season, Virginia Tech was heavily favored to win the ACC’s Coastal Division title. In a rare first-game conference matchup, the Hokies hosted the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on a Monday night prime time game. It was ugly, but the crowd was loud and Cody Journell, who had some off-the-field troubles in the off season, kicked the game-tying field goal as time expired and then after a Kyle Fuller interception in overtime, Journell kicked the game-winner to get Tech’s season off to a winning start.
No. 4 - Michael Cole’s interception vs. Clemson while on his back
For the third straight game, Clemson manhandled the Hokies. But there was one bright spot, albeit it an unexpected one. Safety Michael Cole was in the right place (on his butt) at the right time to haul in this interception - one of the few bright spots in a 38-17 loss.
No. 5 - Kysheon Jarrett’s 94-yard punt return for a TD vs. Pittsburgh
The Hokies lost badly to the Panthers, 35-17, and managed only one score in the second half — Jarrett’s punt return for a touchdown. It was the second longest punt return in Virginia Tech’s history.
No. 6 - Ronny Vandyke’s block on Kysheon Jarrett’s 94-yard punt return
Vandyke’s crucial block took out two Panthers at the 50 yard line and sprang Jarrett for the touchdown.
No. 7 - Demitri Knowles first career catch is goes for a touchdown
Knowles has all the potential in the world and in his first college football game, as a true freshman, he gave Hokie fans a glimpse of what he can bring to the table in the next few years.
No. 8 - Logan Thomas runs for a 73-yard touchdown, breaking Michael Vick’s record
Lost in a down season was the fact that Logan Thomas put up some pretty big numbers, despite his struggles. In 2011, Thomas broke Bryan Randall’s single season record for total offense with 3,482 yards (3,013 passing/469 rushing). In 2012, Thomas managed to break his own record with 3,500 yards (2,976 passing/524 rushing).
On this 73-yard TD run against the Canes, Thomas broke Michael Vick’s record for career rushing TDs by a quarterback at Virginia Tech. Through two seasons as the starting quarterback at Tech, Thomas has 20 rushing TDs.
No. 9 - J.C. Coleman’s 86-yard touchdown run vs. Duke
Duke was on the verge of becoming bowl eligible and looked like the Blue Devils were going to get that all-important sixth win against the Hokies. Duke jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead, but Tech staged the biggest comeback in the Frank Beamer era and scored the remaining 41 points to win the game.
Rookie running back J.C. Coleman recorded his first career 100-yard game, and as it would turn out, the team’s only such performance by a tailback during the 2012 season. If Coleman can get some solid blocking in the next couple of seasons, he could be scary good. David Wilson good.
No. 10 - Bud Foster celebrating Exum’s INT vs. U.Va. and then getting tackled
Bud Foster is unquestionably one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. His high energy, tenacity and relentless game planning and scheming, has endeared him to the Hokie Nation and many fans believe he’s earned the right to be the next head football coach for the Hokies. While that doesn’t look likely anytime soon, Tech fans, for the time being, can rely on Bud to make the most of the talent he has.
-ESPN’s Heather Dinich
2. Eddie Whitley, Virginia Tech: He had 80 tackles and two interceptions last year at free safety. He also broke up six passes and forced two fumbles. He’s a smart player who can line up anywhere in the secondary.
While looking for that picture of Whitley, I found this: