Heels, Hokies Surprised by OT Rules; Players Unsure of Whether it's a Good Ending
BLACKSBURG, Va. — After four quarters and four overtimes, Virginia Tech’s 43-41 victory over North Carolina came down to four plays — a surprise for nearly everyone on the field.
“I honestly had no idea what was going on whenever they were calling it out,” Carolina receiver Beau Corrales said. “I didn’t know that they started that or what was going on, but it’s football, so you’ve got to adjust to it and figure out what it takes to win.”
Saturday marked the first use of college football’s new overtime rules, which were introduced over the offseason in response to last season’s seven-overtime marathon between LSU and Texas A&M.
Now, after four overtime periods, teams take turns at two-point conversions from the three-yard line, with teams alternating until there’s a winner.
It took four plays on Saturday, with both defenses making stops in the fifth overtime before the Hokies got a stop to start the sixth overtime, followed by quarterback Quincy Patterson punching in the game-winning score on a power run.
It wasn’t just the Carolina sideline where there was confusion.
“What are we doing? We run one play, we don’t get it, I’m still on the field, confused, like, ‘What are we doing?’” Virginia Tech receiver Tre Turner said in this story from Mike Niziolek of the Roanoke Times. “So no, I had no idea about the two-point thing, the new overtime rules and all that.”
The game set a new record as the longest game in ACC history, eclipsing Duke’s 45-43 victory over Virginia Tech in 2015 that took four overtimes, also decided on a two-point conversion.
Hokies coach Justin Fuente knew it was coming at some point, but said officials made a point of giving everyone a good explanation of what was going on.
“To be honest with you, I lost track of which number overtime we were on,” he said. “ I knew we were approaching having to go for two and then they came over and slowed it down during the change to the fifth one or whatever and explained it to us.”
Suddenly, after 14 possessions in regulation and four in overtime, starting at the 25-yard line, the game could be decided on one snap.
“You’ve got to play a different style of defense, but nothing we haven’t worked on,” Carolina safety Myles Dorn said.
Carolina brought five defenders on the pass rush on the first attempt, while Virginia Tech was aggressive in catching Michael Carter in the backfield to stop the Tar Heels.
On the second attempt, the Hokies dropped eight into coverage, blanketing Carolina receivers while also containing Sam Howell when he rolled out to the right.
When Virginia Tech snapped the ball on the deciding play, the Tar Heels had nine players in the box — eight of which were between the ball and the end zone.
Whether it’s a good way to decide games remains to be seen.
“I had never heard the rule until the ref told us,” linebacker Chazz Surratt said. “I don’t know. It was kind of going back and forth, so you could see it both ways.”
For Corrales, it was too soon to choose one side or the other.
“I don’t think I have an opinion on it right now because it was so new to me in the moment,” he said. “If it’s a new rule and they put it in there, we’ve got to be able to adjust and play the game of football however it is.”