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Tech players, coaches revisit what could have been

SUGAR BOWL RECAP

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After Tuesday night's 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl, Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley said his team, so disparaged coming in, had nothing to be ashamed of.

"I hope the world saw that," he said. "We played our hearts out. We had ups and downs, but we got it rolling when we needed to."

Standing at a podium across the hallway, coach Frank Beamer couldn't bring himself to that conclusion. He has been around long enough to know that the final score is often all that matters.

"We didn't get a win," he said. "We need wins."

The Hokies are now 1-5 in BCS games, a record that does not reflect the tension of the game's final minutes or the controversy that ensued.

Danny Coale's apparent catch in overtime could have been the winning touchdown, but the play was reviewed upstairs and was overturned by a Pac 12 officiating crew. On Wednesday, ACC director of officials Doug Rhoads told reporters he didn't see enough evidence for the replay official to overrule the call on the field.

Coale stood by his locker for more than 20 minutes after the game answering questions. He was diplomatic, saying that he thought it was a touchdown but the officials must have seen it differently.

Watching from the next locker, wide receiver Jarrett Boykin offered a different perspective.

"I definitely thought he was in bounds," Boykin said of Coale. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it: The refs were giving us a whole bunch of (expletive)."

A few yards away, in the defense's locker room, Hosley offered similar thoughts.

"I thought it was a (heck) of a catch, man," he said. "Danny Coale has been making plays for us all year, and that just solidified it."

Hosley, a junior who announced that Tuesday night was his last game with the Hokies, twice intercepted passes that were overturned. On the second, a pass interference call negated what would have been a crucial third-quarter play.

"Both guys were into each other, and the receiver rolled his ankle, and he made it look like he got shoved down," defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. "That's what I saw, anyway."

All that would have been overshadowed, though, if the Tech offense had been able to produce in the red zone. Instead, kicker Justin Myer was a perfect 4-for-4 in regulation. The senior, who had never made a field goal, seemed destined for a fairy-tale ending, but it turned sour when he missed a 37-yarder in overtime.

"Right now, the last one's really all that's on my mind," a dejected Myer said as he was consoled by teammates. "It was fun to be a part of this game. I just wish it had come out a different way."

Coale felt similarly. The senior took the blame for a fake punt on fourth and 1, saying that he had the option to kick or run the ball, and should have kicked it. Still, it was an odd call for Beamer to make, particularly because the Hokies hadn't punted rugby style all year.

The loss made for a tough ending to Coale's career, one he was still processing in the minutes after the game.

"I'm kind of like a zombie right now," he said. "I can't believe it wasn't a touchdown. I can't believe it's over. The last five years went quickly."

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