Nobody had a better week than Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum.
Earlier this week Exum gave his Best Buy gift cards to three kids in need and gained national attention. ESPN, CBS and many other media outlets praised his actions.
He was a star at the Give Kids the World Village dancing and playing games with the children.
And now he’s the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl MVP after Virginia Tech defeated Rutgers 13-10 in overtime.
“Words can’t explain how happy I am,” Exum said. “The way this season has gone with all the ups and downs I was proud of the resilience the guys showed with sticking with them and showing so much heart.”
Exum earned MVP honors after he intercepted Rutgers QB Gary Nova with 11 minutes left in the game. At the time Tech was trailing 10-3 and the interception set up the Hokies with great field position at the Rutgers 21. Three plays later, Logan Thomas hit Cody Fuller for a touchdown to tie the game at 10.
“When Fuller got that it was just an emotional swing,” Exum said. “We were on the sideline going crazy. We wanted to get back out there and give them another shot.”
It was a defensive game for both teams as they finished with an identical 196 yards of total offense. The two teams also set a new Russell Athletic Bowl record for the most punts in a game (21).
“It’s always nice to score a lot of points but that wasn’t the case tonight,” Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler said. “Bruce (Taylor) and I were talking on the sideline and we said ‘we’re having fun’. It doesn’t matter what the offense does we’re going to go out and keep playing the way we are. They are going to take care of themselves; they’re a good offense. It takes them a little long to get started but we knew at some point they would come around and we knew that if we kept playing good defense we’d come out of here with a win.”
The offense didn’t show much life in the first three quarters as they were shut out 10-0 and held to just 79 yards of offense.
“Nothing came easy for us,” Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “Not everything in life is real smooth and I think these players are all winners. We worked hard. I think how they reacted to adversity and to disappointment and when all of them wanted to do better, wanted our football team to do better. I couldn’t be more proud of a team.”
Virginia Tech denied Rutgers a 10 win season and finished above .500 for the 20th straight year.
“I certainly want to congratulate Coach Beamer and his staff and their program,” Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said. “They did a tremendous job this evening coming back and winning the football game. When two defenses play like that like, the team that makes one more play ends up play winning the game. They were able to make one more play on offense than we were. And unfortunately we came out on the losing side of it.”