BLACKSBURG, Va. - Playing before a home crowd that stood all night in sometimes driving rain, No. 8 Virginia Tech thought it had another signature victory, as well as well-deserved re-entry into the national championship picture.
It thought too soon.
When Matt Ryan and No. 2 Boston College did the remarkable, scoring two touchdowns in the last 2:11 to win 14-10 on Thursday night, it was the unbeaten Eagles who enhanced their profile, and made believers of the Hokies and surely many others.
"I knew he was good, but he really impressed me with those last two drives," said cornerback Brandon Flowers, who had Virginia Tech's lone interception.
The Hokies had several other good chances, but dropped them all during the soggy early going.
Still, they dominated about as much as a team can while leading only 10-0 until late in the final quarter, when the Hokies dropped their linebackers into a prevent coverage, Ryan scrambled away from the rushing lineman and picked the Hokies apart.
"That's not his game, but he ended up staying alive and it's hard to hang onto coverage that long," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said of his quarterback's Doug Flutie-like time-buying with the game on the line. "We ended having a guy open there late."
Held to 16-for-37 for 128 yards in the first 54 minutes, Ryan was 9-for-15 for 157 yards and two TDs the rest of the way. Drives of 91 and 66 yards ended with TD throws, and he even threw in an 11-yard run to the Virginia Tech 16 on the winning drive.
"At the end, we pulled together and made plays," Jagodzinski said. "It was something else. Probably the best win I've ever been around."
The Hokies, whose hopes for a chance to play for the national championship had returned in spite of a 48-7 loss at then-No. 2 LSU in the second week, were stunned.
"I'd rather lose 48-7 than lose like this to be honest with you," left tackle Duane Brown said. "You think you have it sewn up. Four minutes left, you're up by 10, you're feeling pretty good on the sidelines and this happens? You really take a blow."
Especially when it happens in a situation where the Hokies have excelled. They were 13-2 on Thursday night ESPN games.
"This was the stage we wanted. ... No. 2 against No. 8. We're at home. We bounced back from LSU," said Hokies defensive end Chris Ellis. "It gave us another chance to play the No. 2 team, but we didn't come through."