Sept. 4, 2009
BLACKSBURG, Va. - In its first and only visit to Lane Stadium, Alabama earned a hard-fought 17-13 win over Virginia Tech in front of 42,000 fans on a cool, damp afternoon on the Virginia Tech campus.
Alabama head football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and his football team made the trek to Blacksburg to face one of his former pupils in Virginia Tech head coach Jerry Claiborne, who had built a solid program at Tech.
Both defenses played well throughout the day and forced the offenses to become one-dimensional.
The Crimson Tide defense held Tech to just 61 passing yards, as two Virginia Tech quarterbacks combined to complete just six of 14 passes. Tech, however, ran the ball with great success, collecting 216 yards on 70 running plays. Terry Smoot had 34 rushing attempts for 113 yards to lead all rushers.
Danny Gilbert led the UA defense with 13 tackles in the win, while Paul Boschung and Bill Blair had 12 tackles each for the Tide.
Virginia Tech's defense held the Tide in-check on the ground, limiting UA's ground game to just 77 yards on 29 attempts. Scott Hunter was efficient in the air, completing 13 of 18 passes for 239 yards. Hunter Husband led the way by hauling in four passes for 81 yards. David Bailey added three catches for 47 yards in the win.
"They threw the ball awfully well," Claiborne said after the game. "We thought our defense against the running game was excellent, but we've got to improve our pass defense. We lost to a real good team."
Mike Widger had 10 stops to lead the Tech defense, while Scott Hawkins added eight tackles.
"Of course, I'm happy and thankful that we won the ball game," Bryant said in his post-game comments. "Needless to say I am real proud of our kids. Both teams had some crucial penalties and we had a fumble on the goal line."
Alabama went three-and-out on its opening possession and following a bad snap, which resulted in a 17-yard punt, Virginia Tech took the field at the UA 49-yard line. Tech needed only seven plays to achieve a first-and-goal at the Tide 4-yard line, but the drive stalled and Jack Simcsak kicked a 19-yard field goal to the put the Hokies in front 3-0 with eight minutes left in the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Tide offense moved from its own 46-yard line to the Tech 23-yard line before Richard Ciemny nailed a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
Alabama took its first lead of the game on its next possession when Johnny Musso scored from a yard out to give the Tide a 10-3 lead with 12:53 left in the second quarter. The 8-play, 70-yard drive was highlighted by a Hunter's 38-yard pass to Husband that gave the Tide a first down at the Hokies 4-yard line.
Virginia Tech answered with a masterful 18-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Al Kincaid to tie the game at 10-10. The Hokies converted two fourth downs on the drive, which lasted for more than nine minutes.
Kincaid was a fifth-year senior from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and later worked as an assistant coach on Bryant's staff at Alabama.
"They had the ball maybe twice as much as we did," Bryant said. "They had the ball way too much."
Alabama took advantage of a costly turnover to take a 17-10 lead on its first possession of the second half.
A botched snap on a punt resulted in a 7-yard loss and the Tide was in business at the Tech 49-yard line.
Hunter and George Ranager teamed up for a 39-yard completion to the Tech 10-yard line and Ranager scored on a 10-yard end around on the next play to put the Tide ahead to stay.
Following a 63-yard punt, Alabama's next possession began at its own 20-yard line and in three plays the Tide had moved to a first-and-goal at the Tech 6-yard line. Alabama was headed for the game-clinching score, but Ranager fumbled the ball into and out of the end zone, to give Tech new life and the ball at the 20-yard line.
The Hokies could not take advantage of the turnover and punted the ball back to the Tide. The teams then exchanged punts on four straight possessions before Tech closed the gap to 17-13 on Simcsak's 45-yard field goal with 3:45 left in the game.
Alabama punted again and Tech took over at its 44-yard line with one last chance to win. After one first down, Tech had four straight incomplete passes and turned the ball back over the Tide, who escaped with the win.