College football's cardiac kids have done it again.
Boise State quarterback and Heisman candidate Kellen Moore hooked up with receiver Austin Pettits from 13 yards out with 1:09 left in the 4th quarter to lift the No. 3 Broncos past the No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies, 33-30, in a game with several dramatic second-half lead changes.
BSU (1-0) came into the contest with their best preseason ranking ever and jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter before the Hokies (0-1) staged a furious comeback.
The early season win over a highly-ranked, BCS affiliated school promises to provide pundits plenty of fodder about whether or not the Broncos should be the first team from a conference without an automatic BCS to make it to the national championship game. The only other ranked team that Boise State faces this season is No. 24 Oregon State, a game that will be played on the Broncos distinctive blue home turf.
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen kept a sense of perspective about the victory.
"Game 1, and that's what it is," he said." We're just pleased to get out of here with a W."
Moore threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns and lead a 56 yard drive with less than two minutes left to secure the win.
Boise State took the 17-0 lead by taking advantage of a handful of critical Virginia Tech mistakes that set up two TD passes by Moore. But by halftime the Hokies had climbed back into it with Ryan Williams scoring twice to cut the halftime lead to 20-14.
On Boise State's first possession of the second half, Moore fumbled when he cocked to throw and hit his own lineman. Virginia Tech recovered at the Broncos 31 and Williams completed the fifth scoring drive of less than 40 yards in the game with a 1-yard run around the right side.
Taylor bounded off the field and leaped into a side bump with a teammate. Virginia Tech, after nearly burying itself in the first quarter, had its first lead at 21-20.
It lasted about a minute on the clock. D.J. Harper broke a tackle at the line on a third-and-1 and outran the Hokies for a 71-yard touchdown. No questioning Boise State's speed on that play.
Virginia Tech blocked the extra point attempt and it was 26-21 with 5:38 left in the third.
Back came the Hokies. Virginia Tech's Chris Hazley was wide right on a 51-yard field, but Boise State was flagged for running into the kicker. Now with a fourth-and-4 from the 29, Tech went for it and Taylor zipped an out to Jarrett Boykin, who slipped a weak arm tackle attempt by Brandyn Thompson and eased into the end zone to put the Hokies up 27-26. They went for two and missed.
Boise State couldn't answer that score. Kyle Brotzman missed wide left from 30 yards and Hazley answered with a 34-yarder for Virginia Tech to make it 30-26.
Virginia Tech had a chance to run out the clock, but couldn't do it, Taylor threw an incomplete pass on third down that stopped the clock and gave Boise State extra time.
"When it's all said and done, we were one first down from winning that football game," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.
With no timeouts left, that incomplete pass helped a lot. Then Mitch Burroughs broke off a 25-yard punt return -- a flag for a possible illegal block was picked up by the officials -- that set up Moore at the Boise State 44.
He hit three straight passes and on the third, a 14-yarder on the sideline to Pettis, Tech's Bruce Taylor hit the receiver just a tad late out of bounds to tack on more yards.
After an incomplete throw, Moore and Pettis connected for the fourth lead change of the second half -- and there was joy in Boise.
Taylor threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort. It was a heartbreaking loss for Virginia Tech, essentially playing a home game in front of a highly partisan crowd of 90,000 at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.
The Hokies can stay in the national title discussion if they don't lose again, but the loss dropped them to 1-26 all-time against top five teams and was the fourth consecutive year they've ended up on the wrong side of the ledger to open the season.