Miami 56, Virginia Tech 45
December 7, 2002
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com
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Miami, FL - Heisman candidate Willis McGahee had 205 yards rushing and a Big East record six rushing touchdowns, as the Miami Hurricanes won a wild one over the Hokies, 56-45, in the Orange Bowl.
The Canes jumped out to leads of 28-7 and 49-21 in this one, but the Hokies continued to fight back and trailed just 49-37 going into the fourth quarter. Miami scored again to go up 56-37 with 10:06 to go, and the Hokies could only muster one score the rest of the way.
For Virginia Tech, the story was turnovers and the inability to stop McGahee. The Hokies lost three fumbles, two by Bryan Randall and one by Kevin Jones, and Miami converted them into 21 points. McGahee got his 205 yards and six TD's on 39 carries, and the Hokies missed numerous tackles and had him bottled up many times, only to miss the tackle and give up a big gain. McGahee scored on runs of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and 31 yards.
Miami moved the ball at will early, scoring seven touchdowns on their first eight possessions. Meanwhile, on their first eight possessions, the Hokies moved the ball well but fumbled three times, and that led to them being down 49-21 early in the third quarter. From that point on, the Hokies held on to the ball (and Miami turned it over twice), but the hole Tech had dug was too deep to get out of.
Despite their defensive woes, the Hokies stayed in it because of a handful of big plays. Richard Johnson had a 91-yard kickoff return to the Miami 4-yard line, and DeAngelo Hall had a 71-yard punt return to the Miami 18. Those returns led to 10 points, and the Hokies also had two interceptions that led to a pair of touchdowns. Willie Pile picked off a halfback pass and returned it 97 yards for a TD, and Ronyell Whitaker returned an interception of Ken Dorsey to the Miami 9-yard line, where Lee Suggs took it in.
Pile's interception return for a TD came with the Canes leading 49-21. Miami had just blocked a VT punt early in the third quarter, and the Canes were on the Tech one-yard line and threatening to go up by five touchdowns. Dorsey handed off to Jarrett Payton, who attempted to throw it back across the field to Dorsey, but Pile stepped in front of it at the Tech 3-yard line and returned it all the way for a touchdown. That bit of foolishness by the Hurricanes sparked a 24-7 Hokie scoring streak, but it wasn't enough.
Tech's Bryan Randall was 15-of-26 passing for 165 yards and a TD pass to Shawn Witten, and he didn't throw any interceptions. Randall also had 132 yards rushing on 25 carries, including six carries of 10 yards or more. Lee Suggs had 55 yards on 15 carries and scored three TD's to extend his NCAA record of consecutive games with a TD to 26, and his Big East-record TD total to 54. The Hokies were led in receiving by Ernest Wilford, who had six catches for 68 yards and a TD. Wilford has 46 catches on the year, tying the Virginia Tech record for catches in a season, set by Mike Burnop in 1971.
For the Hurricanes, Ken Dorsey had a good day, going 12-of-20 for 300 yards, 2 TD's, and one interception. Wide receiver Andre Johnson shredded the Hokie secondary for 193 yards and one TD on just six catches.
Defensively, DeAngelo Hall led the Hokies with 12 tackles but was beaten a number of times for big gains in the passing game. Freshman safety Jimmy Williams, inserted into the game late, had 8 tackles and played well. For the Hurricanes, Sean Taylor had 10 tackles.
After holding the Hokies to a three-and-out on their first possession, Miami marched 36 yards in 5 plays and scored on a one-yard run by McGahee to go up 7-0. On Tech's next possession, Randall fumbled after being hit from behind, and the Canes took over on their 43 yard line. After a 7-yard run by McGahee, Dorsey hit Andre Johnson for a 50-yard TD to put the Hurricanes up 14-0 barely six minutes into the game.
The Hokies put together their first scoring drive when they marched 86 yards in 14 plays, and Lee Suggs scored from one yard out three plays into the second quarter. The big play on the drive was a 26-yard pass to Cedric Humes out of the backfield that took the ball from the Hokie 37 to the Miami 37.
The Canes responded with an 11-play, 70-yard drive that included a 31-yard pass to Johnson on third and 10. McGahee scored from four yards out to make it 21-7, Canes, with 9:27 go to second quarter.
After a Kevin Jones fumble on the Tech 35, the Canes scored on a 3-yard run by McGahee to go up 28-7. With the Hokies facing a blowout, Richard Johnson took the kickoff at the Tech 5-yard line and rolled 91 yards to the Miami 4. On third and goal from there, the Hokies tried the throwback play to the tight end, but Miami defended it well. Pressured, Randall threw a dart to Shawn Witten in the right front corner of the end zone to make it 28-14, Canes, with 5:15 to go in the half.
Miami scored easily on their next drive, going 74 yards in four plays. The key play was a 58-yard sideline pass from Dorsey to freshman Roscoe Parrish, and McGahee scored from 10 yards out to make it 35-14.
The Hokies put together another impressive touchdown drive, this one going 80 yards in 15 plays. Randall marched the Hokies down to the Miami 7-yard line, where he took a vicious hit on the chin and had to step out of the game. Backup Tech QB Grant Noel came in for one play and promptly lobbed a 7-yard TD to Ernest Wilford on a fade route, making it 35-21 Canes, with 24 seconds left in the half.
Miami scored two TD's in the first four minutes of the second half to go up 49-21. Andre Johnson opened up the half with a 63-yard reception to set up a 2-yard run by McGahee, and after another Randall fumble on the Hokie 45-yard line, McGahee scored from 31 yards out.
When the Canes blocked a Tech punt and recovered on the Hokie 13-yard line, things threatened to get even uglier. After McGahee rumbled 12 yards to the one-yard line, the Hurricanes tried a halfback pass. Jarrett Payton took the handoff from Dorsey and ran to the right, then attempted to pass it back to Dorsey, who was going out to the left. Tech's Willie Pile read it perfectly, cut in front of Dorsey, picked it off at the Tech three-yard line, and ran it 97 yards for the TD. Tech was whistled for a personal foul after the return, and Carter Warley's PAT attempt from the Miami 18 was blocked. Miami 49, VT 27, 8:45 to go third quarter.
The Hokies forced a punt, and DeAngelo Hall provided another big play for the Hokies, returning it from the Tech 11-yard line to the Miami 18. He was stopped by a shoestring tackle, and the Hokies failed to score a TD from there. They advanced it to the Miami 4 on a 17-yard completion to Witten, but the Hokies stalled after two runs and an incomplete pass. Tech settled for a 21-yard field goal by Warley, making it 49-30, Miami.
On Miami's next drive, Ronyell Whitaker picked off Dorsey on third and 10, returning it 56 yards to the Miami 9, and Suggs scored on the next play. Suddenly, the gap was just 12 points, 49-37 Canes, with 50 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Miami answered, converting three third downs on a 56-yard, 11-play drive. The last third down was an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr., and Miami went ahead 56-37.
The two teams traded punts, and then the Hokies put together an impressive 93-yard, 9-play drive for a touchdown that made it 56-45. (Randall threw to Richard Johnson for a 2-point conversion.) The drive featured first downs on four straight plays, as Randall notched runs of 26 and 20 yards, and Chris Shreve caught a 20-yard pass. Suggs scored from four yards out to cap it off with 1:51 to go.
The Hokies tried a pooch kick, and Miami recovered on their 27, then ran out the clock to end the game.
RUSHING-Virginia Tech, Randall 25-132, Suggs 15-55, Easlick 1-4, Jones 4-1. Miami, McGahee 39-205, Payton 3-45, Hill 2-7, Dorsey 1-5, team 2-(minus 6).
PASSING-Virginia Tech, Randall 15-26-0-165, Noel 1-1-0-7. Miami, Dorsey 12-20-1-300, Payton 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING-Virginia Tech, Wilford 6-68, Witten 2-21, Jones 2-14, Easlick
2-14, Humes 1-26, Shreve 1-19, Johnson 1-11, Suggs 1-(minus 1). Miami, Johnson 6-193, Parrish 2-61, Winslow 2-25,