9:29pm: They are playing the Bobby Bowden Discover (my apologies, Capital One) commercial I referenced in the first quarter blog over the in-stadium scoreboards and PA – proving that sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. We bring out Bobby Bowden for the honorary pregame coin flip, and now we have him selling us credit cards by talking to some white guy named Peggy with a put-on Indian accent during timeouts. … As we return to action, Owusu tries to do too much and gets only to the 21 on what initially looked like a promising kickoff return. Between Terrell fielding a punt at the two, Luck throwing a dart into the VT DL's belly on the safety, and Owusu, very much a north-south guy, trying to go east-west to match Taylor with a play of the year of his own, maybe we're a bit too amped up and are trying to do too much right now. Looks like we're going to have a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire Orange Bowl though, so we'll have time to cool off and focus in.
9:37pm: Luck is Luck on a third and five out of a timeout and converts for the first down (as Stanford does at a higher rate than any team in the country), and then Stewart gets loose on the left side for another 26. Stewart nearly breaks the next one going left with no one between him and the end zone, but can't keep his balance and falls down after four. (I wonder if Stepfan Taylor found some new issues to work through, or if not, why we're seeing so much Stewart?) Doesn't matter though, as on third down, Virginia Tech's safety is caught absolutely flatfooted as Zach Ertz gets to his inside on a wicked head fake. We have, what, seven four-star tight ends on the roster, so figures that the best one of the bunch is going to be pretty darn good, and Ertz simply blew by the safety like he wasn't there. It almost goes without saying that the 20-yard post throw was absolutely on time and absolutely on the money. Ertz is far enough in front of the safety that he can bounce off him into the end zone, so it's 14-9, scratch that, 13-9 with 6:32 left, as the extra point is blocked. Between that blocked PAT (hard to see who is at fault as the pressure comes up the middle, but maybe James McGillicuddy?) and Hall catching the safety when he could have simply let the ball fall harmlessly to the ground (not his fault, as he might have thought it was a fumble and not a tip, and your instincts are obviously to dive on the ball, but still), that's three fluky points Stanford has given up, and they lead now by four instead of seven. Could come back to bite them, but not if the Card continue to play like they did this last drive.
9:44pm: Virginia Tech three-and-outs, and then Ryan Whalen gets beat on a cross by Jayron Hosley, VT's cornerback, to his spot. Luck's ball in spot-on, and so it's Hosley who has the interception. Ryan Whalen's strength isn't his speed, but VT's DBs have blanketed our receivers all day, so Luck's 8-of-10 thus far is even more remarkable. The two incompletions were that interception and a throwaway when a receiver was similarly blanketed, and the fact that Taylor is hot-and-cold with his accuracy is only highlighting how much of a stud Andrew Luck is as a college quarterback.
9:52pm: VT is at the Stanford 30 on fourth and one after Taylor found a man for eight on third and nine. They go for it with 2:26 left in the half, and Matt Masafilo makes a huge play by fighting off a block, and hitting the running back behind the line, so that his forward momentum leaves him just short of the first down. Stanford now has 2:20 to try to build upon its 13-9 lead from its 30.
9:55pm: Luck goes to Baldwin for a 12-yard comeback, then Whalen can't make a tough, but makeable, catch on a ball behind him for another would-be first down in VT territory. A short Stanford run brings up third and 10 at the Card 42 with about 1:40 left, and Stanford runs the clock all the way down to 1:06 before calling its second timeout. VT has all three timeouts left.
9:59pm: Luck pulls down third down and runs for five, which at least forces VT into a timeout, and then a false start and a Stanford punt into the end zone later, and VT has 47 seconds left to try to make some magic.
10:05pm: VT gets a defensive holding call for another first down, then a 20-yard Taylor scramble as Masafilo, I believe, loses contain on his pass rush from the right side. The Hokies have it near midfield, and after a spike, VT then makes a nice 25-yard throw and diving catch over the top to Jarrett Boykin. Johnson Bademosi was a step behind, but recovered to swat at the ball, but Boykin's grip was too strong. After a VT spike, there are seven seconds left in the half, so VT plays it safe as Chris Hazley hits his 11th straight field goal. Both teams are really executing well and look like top-five teams to me. A great first thirty minutes from both squads. Jeremy Stewart fumbles the ensuing kickoff, but the half has expired and it's time for the Goo Goo Dolls now.
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