Hokies ride Glennon's arm, Taylor's legs to ACC crown
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Sean Glennon held an orange in one hand and a most valuable player trophy in the other.
He waved both of them in the air as thousands of Virginia Tech fans chanted his name -- not exactly a scene anyone would have envisioned after Glennon got booed to end last season and benched to start this one.
Glennon threw three touchdown passes, outshining Boston College star Matt Ryan and leading the No. 6 Hokies to a 30-16 victory over the Eagles (No. 11 BCS, No. 12 AP) in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday.
"It's been such an emotional roller-coaster this season, and for it to end probably on the most unbelievable high note of my athletic career -- you get the MVP -- it just shows how blessed I've been," Glennon said.
Ryan overshadowed Glennon and teammate Tyrod Taylor much of the game. But Tech's two-quarterback system worked to perfection on one drive, just enough to get the Hokies (11-2) to the Orange Bowl -- or maybe even a better destination.
With top-ranked Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia losing Saturday night, Virginia Tech might have a shot at slipping into the Bowl Championship Series national title game.
Glennon and Taylor made it happen with the winning drive that showed exactly why the coaching staff decided to play both of them.
Taylor gained 31 yards on a quarterback draw, his best play of the day, and Glennon capped an 84-yard drive with a 24-yard strike to Eddie Royal with 7:12 remaining.
The Hokies' defense did the rest.
Kam Chancellor made a touchdown-saving tackle on Kevin Challenger, then Vince Hall intercepted Ryan's fourth-down pass near the goal line four plays later to maintain a 23-16 lead with 2:16 to play.
The Eagles (10-3) forced a punt, but Ryan threw another pick that Xavier Adibi returned 40 yards for a score with 11 seconds to play.
"I thought we moved the ball really well, but we just couldn't get it into the end zone," Ryan said. "To win these types of games, you've got to score points, and we didn't get it done today."
Oranges flew on the field as the Hokies celebrated their fifth consecutive victory and their first win in two trips to the ACC title game.
"When it seemed like the defense was having trouble with Boston College, the offense would respond," Glennon said. "And when we were having trouble moving the ball, the defense was making huge stops for us. At the end, we scored when we needed to and they stopped BC when they needed to. It just says everything about our football team right there."
The game said a lot about Glennon, too.
The junior finished 18-of-27 for 174 yards with the three touchdowns and an interception. He threw a perfect 5-yard fade pass to Josh Morgan in the second quarter and a 13-yarder to Josh Hyman two drives later.
It was Glennon's best game of the season and completed a yearlong turnaround.
Glennon was booed after throwing three interceptions in a 31-24 loss to Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December. He solidified the starting job in the spring, but then got benched following the team's 48-7 drubbing at LSU in early September.
He worked his way back into the mix and has been at his best the last three games, completing 44 of 70 passes for 605 yards, with five touchdowns and an interception.
"I was confident that I was going to be part of this team again," Glennon said. "It was tough at first, but I really kept a lot of confidence that I would get another opportunity and be able to help this team out. When my opportunity came, I just tried to make the most of it."
The Eagles, who likely will play in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, needed Ryan's two late TD passes to beat Tech 14-10 earlier this season. Ryan finished 33-of-52 for 305 yards in the rematch at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
He was at his best early, helping BC rack up 277 yards and 20 first downs in the first 30 minutes, but the Eagles managed only 112 yards and four first downs the rest of the way.
"It's hard to put this one in words," BC linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said. "We wanted to go to the Orange Bowl as bad as we wanted the ACC title. It's a setback in terms of this program, our team goals and our personal goals."
The Hokies were steady throughout, coming up with two big blocked kicks in the first half and the huge drive and two turnovers in the second.
Tech's Duane Brown, a 6-foot-5 offensive lineman, blocked Steve Aponavicius' 36-yard field-goal attempt on the opening drive.
Brown came up big again following Ryan's 14-yard TD run. Brown blocked the extra point, and Brandon Flowers returned it 75 yards for a 2-point conversion that made it 16-9.
That was enough to spark Tech, and Glennon, who may have enjoyed the postgame celebration more than any of his teammates.
"I was just so grateful to be standing up there because a few months ago I didn't think I would be," Glennon said. "Taking all that in, it meant a lot."
2022 Atlantic Coast Conference Standings