Hokie Heat: Bill Roth's Best Moments on the Mic
In the Fall of 1985, as a Junior at Syracuse University with the iconic Mike Tirico by his side, Bill Roth stepped into a Lane Stadium press box for the first time. He was on the call for WAER as the Hokies faced the Orangemen in Blacksburg. Little did he know, three years later he'd call Virginia Tech home. Now, Bill Roth is back as the voice of Hokies football once again. Let's take a trip down memory lane with Bill himself and reflect upon his Top 5 calls in Virginia Tech football history!
5. "Give it to Me Roscoe, Give it to Me!"
It is safe to say that every die-hard Tech fan knows of this awesome moment. It was Week 8 of the 2003 college football season and on a Saturday night in Blacksburg, the hype couldn't have been any bigger. The No. 2 ranked Miami Hurricanes were in town and the Hokies were ranked No. 11 at the time. The game was scoreless through the first quarter of play. With thirteen minutes to go in the second quarter, Miami ran an end around to star wide receiver, #1 Roscoe Parrish, to the strong side of the field. Virginia Tech's defensive back, #4 DeAngelo Hall, came in, ripped the ball away, snagged it out of the air, and ran it back for the first points of the ballgame, giving the Hokies a one score lead. Bill's creativity came pouring out during the iconic play and the Hokies went on to throttle the mighty Hurricanes, 31-7 in front of a jam packed Lane Stadium.
"I don't know that Lane has ever been louder for a full three hour window than it was that night. The Hokies actually had two defensive touchdowns in that game... Miami had a really good team. They had won 39 regular season games in a row. This was Miami when they were Miami,".
4. "Michael Vick Makes a MIRACLE Happen in MORGANTOWN!"
Checking in at number four on our list is none other than the Miracle in Morgantown. It was 1999 and the Hokies were ranked No. 3 in the country heading into a fight for the Black Diamond trophy. On the other side, West Virginia wasn't having it's best season and was sitting at 3-5 on the year. History has proven that records go out the window in a big rivalry game and this was certainly the case as West Virginia gave the Hokies all it had in a gritty performance by the Mountaineers. Earlier that day, No. 2 Penn State had lost on a walk-off field goal against Minnesota, which meant that if Virginia Tech could pull off a win over WVU, they'd move up to No. 2 in the polls and be in position for a BCS National Championship appearance. The Hokies struggled mightily in the first half and struggled to get things going offensively. After being tied 7-7 at the break, the Hokies pulled ahead in the second half, leading 19-7 with 4:59 on the clock in the fourth quarter. WVU quickly made it a one possession game, 19-14, with 3:15 left in the game. On the ensuing possession, Virginia Tech's tailback, #38 Shyrone Stith fumbled the ball. This lead to a go-ahead Mountaineer touchdown that gave them the 21-19 lead with 1:15 left on the clock. The opportunity was there for Michael Vick to make a name for himself and the rest is history. Vick led the Hokies into field goal range, setting up a 44-yard field goal attempt by #17 Shayne Graham. The Senior kicker drilled it right down the middle to keep Virginia Tech's National Championship dreams alive.
"You felt like my goodness, we got a shot to play for a National Championship! It really wasn't that good of a game... but, it had an incredible ending with high drama and a last second kick. Vick was at his very best. He had a scoot right down the sideline in front of the Tech bench that set us up for a field goal attempt for the best kicker that Tech's ever had... Gio, he nailed it right down the middle,".
3. "Hand Him the Heisman! Give it to Him RIGHT NOW!"
For the third installment on our list, we flash forward just one year to 2000 in Michael Vick's final year at Virginia Tech as a Redshirt Sophomore. The Hokies had completely reloaded following a National Championship appearance the year prior. Heading into a Week 5 matchup at Alumni Stadium against ACC foe, Boston College, Virginia Tech was ranked No. 4 in the country. Boston College is known for good defenses and intimidating linebackers, but the Eagles were no match for the speed, elusiveness, and agility of Michael Vick. #7 in maroon and orange ran the ball for 210 yards on 16 attempts and scored 3 touchdowns. He averaged 13.1 yards per carry on that crisp fall evening in Chestnut Hill. No play was more fantastic, jaw dropping, and eye popping than his 82-yard touchdown run. In the special moment, as BC fans showered the Hokies in garbage, Bill Roth declared Michael Vick worthy of the Heisman Trophy, calling it, "the most unbelievable play you've ever seen".
"I felt that he was the best player in college football and I think a lot of people felt that. Unfortunately the Hokies weren't the best team. They were really good, but they weren't the best team. Times have changed now. You can win the Heisman Trophy without winning the National Championship for your team... Back then, even as a Freshman the year before it was like, 'well we can't have a freshman win the Heisman'. I thought Mike was the best player. It's okay if the best player in football is a Freshman or a Sophomore and the Hokies had that for two years. He was an electric player and he made plays like that. That was a great run by Mike,".
2. "Tyrod Did it Mikey, Tyrod Did it!"
When people think of Bill Roth and Virginia Tech football, this call is the first that comes to mind for many. Virginia Tech vs. Nebraska. Week 3, 2009. Those couple of sentences is enough to give Hokies chills. Virginia Tech had gone out to Lincoln, NE the year prior and taken down the Cornhuskers in a 35-30 thriller. Flash forward a year later and both teams are ranked in the Top 15 with high hopes for their 2009 campaigns. The game was a true defensive battle the whole way and the Hokies struggled to display their offensive firepower. Nebraska led 15-10 with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the Hokies had to go 84-yards to make the magic happen. They did just that. On the first play from scrimmage on their final drive, Tyrod Taylor was hit as he threw a bomb down the right sideline, dropping the pigskin right in the bread basket of #19 Danny Coale who beat single coverage and was shoved out at the enemy 3-yard line. A few plays later, with under thirty seconds left, Taylor scrambled around for what felt like an eternity as Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh gave chase, before delivering a dart to the back of the end zone, finding #11 Dyrell Roberts for the game winning touchdown! Lane Stadium went bonkers as Tyrod ripped his helmet off and kept a stone cold straight face with ice in his veins. Just like so many times before, Bill shared another iconic Hokies moment with the legendary Mike Burnop.
"That was a big revenge game for the 'Huskers. Their defense played great. In fact, before that drive, the Hokies had less than 150 yards of offense for the game and now, they had to go 90 yards. I don't think Tech had a first down in the second half. It looked bleak. Taylor, much like Vick did in Morgantown back in 1999, made the best plays late in the 4th quarter. That's what was great about that. The game winner to Roberts was just a ridiculous play. Dyrell kept running in the back of the end zone, Tyrod kept scrambling around and it was a very special day... The fact that Danny got knocked out at the 3 made Roberts and Taylor heroes for life in the Hokie Nation,".
"So many of our great moments in Tech history, you probably remember who you went to the game with. You remember who was sitting next to you. You saw something historic, you always remember who you were with when it happened. Every great moment that Mike and I experienced, we experienced together. The highs and the lows. He's been right there next to me for decades going back to 1988, so that was a real thrill because I know how much that game meant to Coach Beamer and our fans. To Roberts, Taylor, and that whole team,".
1. "Jim Druckenmiller Has Engineered the Greatest Comeback I've Ever Seen"
For Bill Roth's best moment on the airwaves for Virginia Tech football, we take you back to 1995 as the Hokies and Cavaliers square off in the Commonwealth Clash at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA. Virginia Tech trailed UVA 29-14 in the second half and the game looked all but over, as the Wahoos led the Hokies in nearly every single statistical category. After continuous strong defensive stops from Virginia Tech, the Hokies had put themselves in a position to have a chance at winning the ballgame. Trailing 29-23 with under a minute left to go, Jim Druckenmiller dropped back, got the defense to bite on a nasty pump fake, and delivered a gorgeous ball over the shoulder of a wide open Jermaine Holmes who caught it in stride as he crossed the goal line to score the game winning touchdown with 47 seconds left to play. The comeback was complete and the moment was as special as it gets, with the Hokies winning it 36-29 following an Antonio Gates pick-six as the clock expired and Virginia Tech students stormed their bitter rival's field. In the moment, it was a great win. Twenty seven years later, we know that it changed the trajectory of Virginia Tech's football program forever. Who else, but Bill to tell us that story.
"It was huge. It was an impactful win in more ways than people probably remember. It wasn't just because it was UVA and on the road and it wasn't just that it was in the last minute of a game where VT fans stormed the field on the road and tried to tear the goal posts down at a road stadium... Virginia Tech had won the Big East, but back then the Big East champ did not get the automatic bid to the BCS, in this case the Sugar Bowl. They had to beat Virginia to get the Sugar Bowl bid... it was really big... If the Hokies don't win that game in '95, they don't go to the Sugar Bowl and win over Texas. If they don't go to the Sugar Bowl and beat Texas, I'm not sure that they get the FedEx Orange Bowl bid the next year. Remember, this is when Michael Vick is in high school... the fact that Virginia Tech is winning Sugar Bowls and Orange Bowl appearances '95, '96, you know, Tech advanced to a different level back then. The '95 Sugar Bowl was Tech's first major bowl game. To do it, we had to beat Virginia. That's why that play was so big. I don't know that there's a singular more significant play,".
"If you watch it very closely, Virginia's cornerback on the play is a young man by the name of Percy Ellsworth and the Hokies really recruited Percy Ellsworth hard to come to Tech as a basketball player. I remember very vividly sitting in Coach Bobby Hussey's living room... Percy was on his official visit and he's sitting on Coach Hussey's couch. Tech is recruiting him for basketball... Coach looks at me and says, 'Roth, Percy Ellsworth will make a play in Virginia Tech history that you'll be talking about forever'. Bobby's thinking he'll make a basketball play but it ends up that Percy was the defensive back so when Druckenmiller does that pump fake, it's Percy that bites on it,".
After a short time away, Bill Roth is back behind the microphone for Virginia Tech. It's a new era of Hokies football here in Blacksburg. Who better to tell the story than Bill Roth himself? The Brent Pry era is about to commence, setting the table for Roth to add more historic moments to his incredible legacy.