BLACKSBURG, Va. - Looking back on his team's improbable run to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last season and the day when it all started coming together, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer settled on Oct. 28.
The site was Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, and the No. 22 Hokies had stumbled their way through the first 54 minutes. They trailed Georgia Tech 20-12 when they got the ball at their own 20, hoping to finally get their sloppy offense on track.
They did, too, using two long passes and a big-play defense to score 22 points the rest of the way and win 34-20, the springboard to a great season.
"We made a couple of plays and I really think that game gave us some momentum going down the home stretch," Beamer said.
"We were a team last year that got better as we went along, and I think that game was very instrumental in doing that."
The Hokies went on to stretch their winning streak to eight, capped by a 16-10 victory at Miami to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
The Yellow Jackets went on to finish 7-5, including a bowl victory against Syracuse, and a painful lesson that a game's tone can be reversed by a single play.
"The coaches already reminded us how we lost the game in the last 5 minutes," safety Chris Reis said. "That still kills us today. It's painful to know we gave up two big touchdowns. We had 'em the whole game."
The Hokies have become Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey's role model for success.
"They put pressure on you at all times," Gailey said as his team prepared to play the No. 4 Hokies (3-0) at Lane Stadium on Saturday.
"You have to work for 60 minutes, and we used last year's game to demonstrate that fact to our team, this year and last."
Georgia Tech had gone ahead 20-12 on a 34-yard field goal with 5:44 to play before the Hokies roared back.
For the Hokies, memories of the game are far more enjoyable.
"It was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat," tight end Jeff King said. "We knew we kind of got away with one. We didn't play particularly well, but it was a great win."
- Boston College at Clemson, noon (Fox Sports Net)
- Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m. (ABC-Ch. 6)
- Troy at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (Pay-per-view)
- Chattanooga at Georgia Southern, 7 p.m. (CSS)
- Georgia at Mississippi State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)