BLACKSBURG, Va. — Frank Beamer is fond of apologizing for not remembering something from the past by saying, "that was a lot of fourth quarters ago."

He hasn't had many like the one No. 16 Virginia Tech put him through Monday night before beating Georgia Tech 20-17 in overtime.

Cody Journell kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime, then made a 17-yard field goal in the extra period for the victory. The Hokies' defense set up the victory by nearly burying Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington under a pass rush that caused him to try to throw the ball away, and he did – right to Hokies cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Even for September, and a season opener, the game could have huge implications in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.

In the seven years the ACC has held a championship game, only the Hokies (five times) and Yellow Jackets have ever represented the division. The victory, because of tiebreakers, essentially gives Virginia Tech a two-game lead over the Yellow Jackets, though Beamer knows, it's still early. Very early.

"I think you've got an advantage," he said. "I don't think there's any question about that. A big advantage, but there's a lot of football to be played."

And, he hopes, a lot of it better football, especially by his offense.

The Hokies scored on their second series and seemed to be moving the ball with ease. Then they stalled on series after series until midway through the fourth quarter. They mustered only 326 yards of offense, severely taxing a defense that allowed just 288 to the Yellow Jackets' vaunted triple option.

But there were good signs, too, starting with the comeback, and the ability of Journell to shake off an earlier miss from 38 yards and make the big kicks.

"I really just try to clear my head of everything whenever I'm out on the field," Journell said. "I just tried to let everything go and do what I needed to do."

In the process, he prevented the Hokies from another crushing early season loss. They lost to East Carolina in their 2008 opener, Alabama in 2009 and Boise State in 2010, and in a season where some view them as national championship contenders, they couldn't afford to start with a loss to an ACC division foe.

It seemed fitting to Beamer that Journell came through. Last season, he missed the Sugar Bowl while serving a suspension for his arrest on felony breaking and entering charges. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing, and was reinstated under conditions set by athletic director Jim Weaver.

"Cody made a big mistake and I thought he paid a tremendous price," Beamer said. "But I think he knows that this is his family and we're all pulling for him."

Georgia Tech got the ball first in overtime, but Fuller was on the receiving end when Washington tried to throw the ball away.

"We kind of gift-wrapped it for them in overtime," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said.

Until then, Washington's 10-yard scoring pass to Deon Hill with 44 seconds left in regulation had given the Yellow Jackets a 17-14 lead, capping a drive in which the quarterback known for his feet had shown his arm is pretty clutch, too. Four plays before the touchdown, Washington was flushed from the pocket on a fourth-and-6 play from the Hokies 37, and after eluding a pass rusher, he found B.J. Bostic with three defenders around him for a 19-yard gain on the right sideline to keep the drive alive.

"He made some great plays on the last drive in regulation," Johnson, who is 1-4 against the Hokies, said of his QB.

Then it was Logan Thomas' turn, and he drove the Hokies to the 24 for Journell's 41-yarder.

After Washington's turnover, the only one in the game, the Hokies got runs of 6 and 18 yards from Michael Holmes on the first two plays to set up the winner.

"I thought we hung in there great," Beamer said. "Those guys know what they're doing. They're tough all game. It's a right-at-you ballgame."

The Hokies had gone ahead 14-10 on Thomas' 42-yard scoring pass to Demitri Knowles with 7:46 to play.

Georgia Tech used a timeout to try to ice Journell before the tying kick, but his kick sailed through the uprights to tie it at 17.

Fans, most of whom came clad in orange, didn't wait for the officials to signal the kick good, instead taking their cues from the reactions of those with a better view and were already celebrating having scored more points in the last 7:46 than the first 52:14.

Before the offensive flurry in the fourth quarter, the game was a punting contest that turned on a punt that went awry.

Georgia Tech had managed just two first downs when Hokies freshman punter A.J. Hughes set them up with a mistake.

Dropped back in punt formation near midfield, he let a snap go through his hands and scrambled to fall on it for a 22-yard loss. That put the Yellow Jackets at the Hokies 24, and three runs tied it. On the 12-yard touchdown, Robert Godhigh went wide around the left side, dodged defenders, broke several tackles and scored easily, making it 7-7.

The mistake seemed to knock the Hokies off their stride, and neither team threatened the rest of the half.

The Yellow Jackets finally started moving the ball and went ahead 10-7 on a 34-yard field goal by David Scully to start the fourth quarter. The score came after a 15-play, 56-yard drive that not only took 7:18 off the clock, but included three short third-down conversions and left the Hokies defenders looking worn down in the humidity.

After falling behind, Thomas and the offense finally gave the defense a break, driving from their 23 to the Yellow Jackets 21 in 11 plays, but Journell missed the attempt.

The rested Hokies didn't let it keep them down long, holding the Yellow Jackets and forcing a punt.

This time, Thomas hit Marcus Davis for 35 yards on second down, and when Davis fumbled the ball at the end of the run, Corey Fuller recovered at the Yellow Jackets 42.

On the next play, Thomas hit speedy wide receiver Demitri Knowles for the touchdown in the right corner, his first career reception.

Knowles beat Rod Sweeting, who also was called for pass interference on the play.

The Hokies had the upper hand early, moving the ball and stopping the Yellow Jackets on three plays on their first series.

Thomas did the bulk of the work for the Hokies, running 4 yards for a first down on a third-and-2 play, and hitting Corey Fuller for 12 yards on third-and-11 from the Georgia Tech 34. After two runs by Holmes for 17 yards, Thomas floated a touch pass over the Yellow Jackets defense to Eric Martin for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • No. 1 USC 49, HAWAII 10

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Marqise Lee caught a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score, and No. 1 Southern California rolled. Matt Barkley kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign with 377 yards passing and four touchdowns, and Lee caught 10 passes for 197 yards for the Trojans (1-0), whose offensive stars were every bit as impressive as expected in their first game since their two-year NCAA bowl ban ended. Silas Redd rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown on a team-leading nine carries in the Penn State transfer's debut at USC, which led 35-0 at halftime and coasted to its 15th consecutive season-opening victory. Robert Woods caught six passes for 42 yards and two TDs, and tight end Xavier Grimble caught Barkley's final scoring throw in the fourth quarter.

  • No. 2 ALABAMA 41, No. 8 MICHIGAN 14

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – AJ McCarron threw two touchdown passes and Alabama's retooled defense showed it could still dominate. Even after sending three starting defenders from last year's national championship team to the NFL as first-round draft picks, the Crimson Tide threw around the Wolverines while stifling and pounding dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson. C.J. Mosley returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown. Dee Milliner had four pass breakups and an interception in the first half that set up a score after he shoved the intended receiver to the ground on the sideline. This certainly wasn't what Michigan expected coming off an 11-win season under first-year coach Brady Hoke that ended with the Wolverines' first BCS victory since the 1999 season. McCarron no longer has Trent Richardson to hand off to, but T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy both ran for scores.

  • NO. 3 LSU 41, NORTH TEXAS 14

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Kenny Hilliard rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and LSU opened its season with an easy victory. While the heavily favored Tigers were never threatened, their performance did not always thrill a Death Valley crowd that eagerly anticipated the debut of Zach Mettenberger as starting quarterback. Mettenberger, who was briefly sidelined by a vicious sack, was 19 of 26 for 192 yards, an interception and a touchdown. But LSU didn't really need to throw in a game decided by its overwhelming defense and a running game that accounted for 316 yards, including 123 by Alfred Blue. Derek Thompson completed only 8 of 21 passes, but two passes were scoring strikes of 80 and 15 yards to Brelan Chancellor.

  • NO. 4 OKLAHOMA 24, UTEP 7

    EL PASO, Texas (AP) – Landry Jones threw two touchdown passes and Damien Williams ran 65 yards for another score in the fourth quarter, helping Oklahoma slog out a win. Oklahoma labored in its opener, unable to generate much of a running game or get anything downfield. Up just 10-7 in the fourth quarter, the Sooners stuffed UTEP on a fake punt to set up an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Brannon Green and Williams sealed it late with his long run. Nathan Jeffrey ran for 177 yards and returned a blocked punt 24 yards for a touchdown for UTEP.

  • NO. 5 OREGON 57, ARKANSAS ST. 34

    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – Marcus Mariota made his first start, passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon's season-opening victory over Arkansas State. De'Anthony Thomas caught two touchdowns and ran for another while collecting 119 yards in total offense as the Ducks built a 50-10 lead by halftime. Kenjon Barner, taking over as starter after the departure of running back LaMichael James, ran for 66 yards and two scores. The Ducks sat most of their starters after the break. The loss spoiled coach Gus Malzahn's first game as coach of the Red Wolves, who went 10-3 last season and won the Sun Belt Conference title. Arkansas State senior quarterback Ryan Aplin threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, including a 72-yard scoring pass to Julian Jones just before the half.

  • No. 6 GEORGIA 45, BUFFALO 23

    ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Freshman Todd Gurley ran for three touchdowns, Aaron Murray threw three scoring passes and Georgia overcame a sloppy first half. Gurley didn't start but may have emerged as the Bulldogs' future at tailback with his eight carries for 100 yards, including scoring runs of 10 and 55 yards. He added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Georgia, favored by 37 1/2 points, led only 24-16 at halftime before pulling away in the season opener for both teams. Branden Oliver, coming off his school-record 1,395 yards rushing in 2011, had 30 carries for 111 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run for the Bulls.

  • NO. 7 FLORIDA STATE 69, MURRAY STATE 3

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Lonnie Pryor, James Wilder Jr., and Debrale Smiley combined for seven rushing touchdowns to lead Florida State. Pryor ran for three TDs, and Smiley and Wilder added two apiece. Wilder finished with 106 yards rushing. Florida State scored on their first touch of the new season on Rashad Greene's 47-yard punt return just 89 seconds into the game. EJ Manuel passed for 188 yards and a touchdown before retiring midway in the third quarter. Murray State's Casey Brockman passed for 117 yards, but was intercepted once and sacked six times, including four by Bjoern Werner. The Seminoles totaled 606 yards while holding Murray State, a Football Championship Subdivision school, to 156 yards

  • No. 10 ARKANSAS 49, JACKSONVILLE STATE 24

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – Tyler Wilson set the school record for yards passing in a season opener, finishing 19 of 27 passing for 367 yards and three touchdowns for Arkansas. Two of Wilson's touchdowns went to tight end Chris Gragg, who finished with seven catches for 110 yards as the No. 10 Razorbacks (1-0) won their first game under coach John L. Smith. Brandon Mitchell, the former backup quarterback turned starting receiver, joined in the fun with four catches for 122 yards and Javontee Herndon caught four passes for 96 yards. The Gamecocks (0-1), coached by former Razorbacks coach Jack Crowe, led 14-7 in the first half. Marques Ivory had a pair of touchdown passes, while Alan Bonner had eight catches for 107 yards.

  • No. 11 WEST VIRGINIA 69, MARSHALL 34

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers past Marshall. In the final scheduled game between the state's only Bowl Subdivision teams, it marked West Virginia's highest-scoring season opener in school history. Smith kept the momentum going from his six-TD performance from the Orange Bowl. The senior completed 32 of 36 passes and set a school record for career completions before sitting out most of the fourth quarter The Mountaineers compiled 655 total yards, more than any game last year, and got the balance they've sought from their running game. Shawne Alston ran for 123 yards and two scores.

  • No. 12 WISCONSIN 26, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 21

    MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and Wisconsin needed a big defensive play to survive a fourth-quarter scare. Wisconsin's defense didn't allow Northern Iowa past the 50-yard line until the 4:27 mark in the third quarter – but then the Badgers nearly melted down. Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin allowed Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen to throw a pair of long touchdowns to David Johnson, cutting the lead to five. With the Panthers facing fourth-and-1 at the Wisconsin 41-yard line, defensive lineman Ethan Hemer tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage to stop the drive.

  • No. 14 CLEMSON 26, AUBURN 19

    ATLANTA (AP) – Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards, DeAndre Hopkins set a school record with 13 receptions and Clemson opened the season with a victory. Playing before a 50-50 crowd at the Georgia Dome – basically halfway between the two campuses – Clemson shook off any hangover from last season's embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl and showed plenty of offense against Auburn even without star receiver Sammy Watkins, who was suspended for the first two games after an offseason drug arrest. The second half was a battle of field goals before Tajh Boyd lofted a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins, who made a brilliant, twisting catch in the corner of the end zone with 9:17 remaining. Both teams kicked four field goals. Cody Parkey connected from 37, 46, 27 and 36 yards for Auburn, the last of them putting his team ahead with 12:50 remaining. Chandler Catanzaro was just as accurate for Clemson, booting it through from 24, 40, 37 and 18 yards. Tre Mason led Auburn in rushing with 107 yards.

  • No. 15 TEXAS 37, WYOMING 17

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown both rushed for more than 100 yards and combined for three touchdowns to lead Texas. Texas quarterback David Ash, who won the starting job over Case McCoy in training camp, was an efficient 20-of-27 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown to Jaxon Shipley. Bergeron had 110 yards and scored Texas' first touchdown on a 1-yard run in first quarter. He put the game away with a 17-yard TD in the fourth. Brown ran for 105 yards for Texas (1-0). Robert Herron had touchdown catches of 82 and 22 yards for Wyoming (0-1). Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith passed for 276 yards but threw two interceptions in the second quarter that set up Texas touchdowns.

  • No. 17 NEBRASKA 49, SOUTHERN MISS 20

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Taylor Martinez threw for a career-high 354 yards and matched his best with five touchdown passes to lead Nebraska. The Huskers won their nation-leading 27th straight opener. Nebraska played the last three quarters without Rex Burkhead. The 1,300-yard rusher last season went out with a sprained ligament in his left knee after opening the scoring with a career-long 57-yard run. Backup Ameer Abdullah ran 15 times for 81 yards and made an acrobatic catch for an 11-yard TD. Southern Miss backup quarterback Anthony Alford carried 15 times for 84 yards in his first college game.

  • No. 18 OHIO STATE 56, MIAMI, OHIO, 10

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Braxton Miller threw for two scores, including Devin Smith's highlight-reel, one-handed catch, for the Buckeyes. The slow-starting Miller, who stutter-stepped for a 65-yard score just 17 seconds into the second half, finished 14 of 24 passing for 207 yards. He also hit Corey Brown on a 5-yard TD pass. After Miller's long run made it 28-3, Bradley Roby recovered a high Miami punt snap in the end zone and the rout was on. Travis Howard had two interceptions and Carlos Hyde scored on 4- and 8-yard runs for Ohio State.

  • No. 19 OKLAHOMA STATE 84, SAVANNAH STATE 0

    STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) – Freshman Wes Lunt completed all 11 of his passes in a brief first outing as the new starting quarterback for Oklahoma State. The defending Big 12 champions drove for touchdowns on their first five possessions to take a 35-0 lead late in the first quarter, and then used the rest of the game as a scrimmage to get playing time for their reserves. Joseph Randle ran for 107 yards and two TDs on just six carries and Desmond Roland added 104 yards rushing, and Jeremy Smith ran for three scores as the Cowboys opened with an all-too-easy victory after losing stars Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden in the first round of the NFL draft. The lopsided result was hardly a surprise. Savannah State, one of the worst teams from a lower division, had won only four games in against Football Championship Subdivision competition in 10 years and was playing team from the FBS for the first time.

  • No. 22 KANSAS STATE 51, MISSOURI STATE 9

    MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Collin Klein threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns, John Hubert ran 95 yards for a fourth-quarter score and Kansas State pulled away late to beat Missouri State. Hubert finished with 152 yards rushing, Braden Wilson and Daniel Sams added touchdown runs, and Tramaine Thompson returned a punt 89 yards for another score as the Wildcats (1-0) tuned up for next week's showdown with Miami with an impressive second-half scoring binge. The game was tied 9-9 early in the third quarter before Kansas State piled up 42 straight points against the team picked to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference.

  • No. 23 FLORIDA 27, BOWLING GREEN 14

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Mike Gillislee had a career-high 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns, helping Florida beat Bowling Green. The performance was far from perfect for the Gators, who struggled part of the game on offense and failed to generate much pressure on defense. Still, it was enough for Florida to win its 23rd consecutive opener. The streak is the second longest in the nation behind Nebraska (27). The Gators can thank Gillislee, Frankie Hammond and two missed field goals for the latest one. Gillislee scored on runs of 15 and 38 yards in the second quarter. Hammond turned a short pass into a 50-yard score early in the fourth. Bowling Green could have had a second-half lead, but fifth-year senior Stephen Stein missed field-goal attempts of 31 and 29 yards.