BLACKSBURG, Virginia — With three games left in the regular season, Virginia Tech needs to win at least two of them to extend its streak of seasons ending in a bowl game to 22, and they say anything less is unacceptable.
"It's extremely important," quarterback Michael Brewer said Saturday after Boston College handed the Hokies their third consecutive loss, 33-31. "It's important to send seniors out the right way."
But these Hokies (4-5, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) are unlike many of those teams that came before them, and in a way that finds senior wide receiver Willie Byrn desperate to salvage his last season.
"I hate losing," he said. "The way it will be salvaged is if we learn something from it. I hate hearing people saying we're going to be great next year. The seniors put so much work into it."
The loss was the third in a row for Virginia Tech, while it made Boston College (6-3, 3-2) bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. The Eagles also improved to 4-0 on the road this season.
One of their seniors made the big plays when they needed them.
Tyler Murphy threw for two touchdowns and put the ended the Hokies' hopes of a comeback with a 57-yard scoring run with 2:59 remaining, giving Virginia Tech its fourth home loss in six games this year.
"The defense is playing really well but the offense is playing bad," Byrn said. "Then the offense starts coming together and the defense has hiccups. ... Championship teams know how to put it together."
Murphy became the third quarterback to run for more than 100 yards against the Hokies' defense this season, gaining 122 yards on 18 carries. Georgia Tech's Justin Thomas (165) and Pittsburgh's Chad Voytik (118) also did it, and then Miami ran for 364 yards against that same unit last Thursday night.
The Hokies trailed 23-10 before a fake punt kick-started their offense.
Brewer pulled the Hokies within 23-17 when he scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down, and the Hokies took the lead when Brewer hit Bucky Hodges for a 7-yard touchdown and Hodges bulled into the end zone. But then a defense that had been solid all day couldn't stop the Eagles when it needed to most.
Never facing a third down until it was into Virginia Tech territory, Boston College drove 42 yards to the Hokies' 24 and Alex Howell gave them the lead back at 26-24 with a 44-yard field goal.
There was 4:12 to play, but after the Hokies' offense went three-and-out and punted, Murphy followed two plays that gained nothing with his backbreaking touchdown.
Brewer's 5-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Malleck with 28 seconds remaining created the final.
After Joey Slye's 27-yard field goal gave the Hokies a 10-7 lead, the teams exchange punts before the Eagles became the latest team to strike quickly against the Virginia Tech defense. Dadi Nicolas sacked Murphy for a 5-yard loss on the first play, and Myles Willis ran 68 yards for a touchdown on the next.
It's the longest offensive play against the Hokies this season, and the 11th of at least 40 yards.
Slye tried to make it a one-point game just before halftime, but his 30-yard field goal was blocked.
The Eagles had the ball in Hokies territory on their first three possessions, and on the third one, they finally cashed in. Murphy got the drive started with a 24-yard pass to Shakim Phillips, kept the ball and ran for 8 yards on a third-and-1 and hit Callinan for 8 yards and the tying touchdown.
The Hokies took the opening kickoff and drove 95 yards for a touchdown. It was their longest drive of the season, and featured their longest play from scrimmage of the year: a 44-yard pass on which Brewer eluded a rush, bought some time and found Willie Byrn along the Eagles sideline.
Williams took it the last 8 yards and the Hokies led after 3:09.
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