Day 5: A last-second field goal saved the Hokies' unbeaten season
Waiting to hold for the most important field-goal attempt in Virginia Tech history, Caleb Hurd understood his fate.

Anonymity or infamy.

At right guard, Keith Short ignored his throbbing right knee and stared intently at the ball, determined not to budge early.

In front of the Hokies' bench, defensive coordinator Bud Foster and defensive line coach Charley Wiles clutched hands and dropped to their knees.

Back in Blacksburg, non-traveling reserves Tim Selmon, Steve DeMasi and Jeff Hartzog huddled around the television in the latter's apartment.

It was Nov. 6, 1999, and as the sun set in Morgantown, W.Va., the temperature dipped into the 40s, and Virginia Tech's unbeaten regular season and national title hopes were in peril.

After squandering a 12-point fourth-quarter lead, the Hokies trailed 20-19, their first deficit of the year.

"Other than getting married and having children, I rode the emotional roller-coaster the most during the West Virginia game," Foster said. "Here we thought we had the thing won. Then all of a sudden, I'm almost in tears."

But thanks to a 26-yard, for-the-scrapbook scramble by freshman quarterback Michael Vick — "he was a blur," Tech coach Frank Beamer said — the Hokies were on the Mountaineers' 27-yard line.

Five seconds remained as Shayne Graham lined up his 44-yard attempt. The Hokies had no timeouts.

A week earlier at Pittsburgh, Graham had kicked a season-best 52-yarder. But he had never made a game-winner.

A year earlier at Miami, Graham had missed from 35 yards with eight seconds remaining. But that game was tied, and Tech won in overtime.

Graham hailed from Pulaski County High, a half-hour drive from Blacksburg. He had made 10-of-13 field goals in 1999, 3-of-5 from beyond 40 yards.

Offensive tackle Anthony Lambo, an assistant high school coach in his native New Jersey, recalls what he was thinking:

"He better freakin' make it. All he does in practice is kick."

The field-goal team hurried onto the field after Vick spiked the ball. But Hurd, Graham's holder since their junior year at Pulaski, told Graham to relax, that the Mountaineers would call timeout to ice him.

Sure enough, they did.

"That was the best thing that happened," Hurd said. "It allowed everyone to regroup."

Invited to join the team as a non-scholarship player because of his history with Graham, Hurd had not mishandled a snap since their freshman year at Tech.