Miami, FL — Crack open the champagne and grab the beads, the Virginia Tech Hokies are ACC champs and are headed to
New Orleans! Eddie Royal took a crossing pattern 39 yards to the house with 11:29 to go for a 16-10 Hokie lead, and the
defense made it stand up, batting down three straight Brock Berlin passes in the last minute to seal the win. The
victory is VT's eighth in a row and their first in the Orange Bowl since 1998, and with it Virginia Tech wins first
place in the ACC and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
That's assuming that USC defeats UCLA and the Big XII championship game ends as forecasted, with a win by Oklahoma
over Colorado. If that goes down, the Hokies will play the winner of the SEC
Championship Game, which pits #3 Auburn against #15 Tennessee.
The Hokies led 10-7 at half time, scoring first early in the second quarter on 3-yard touchdown pass from Bryan
Randall to Jeff King after a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Miami's TD came when they blocked a Vinnie Burns punt, covered it
on the Hokie 15-yard line, and ran it in four plays later on a 2-yard jaunt by one-time VT recruiting target Tyrone
Miami nearly stung the Hokies again after a Randall fumble in the 3rd quarter gave the Canes possession on the Hokie
30-yard line. Tech was able to hold the Canes to a 21-yard field goal, though, and that tied it up at 10 midway through
the 3rd quarter.
That's how it stood until early in the fourth quarter, when the Hokies, victims of poor field position most of the
game, took over on Miami's 39-yard line after a 19-yard punt return by Royal. VT didn't waste any time, as Randall
dropped back on the next play and hit Royal 20 yards downfield on a crossing pattern. Royal made the
fingertip catch, turned it upfield for the score, and made it 16-10 Hokies, with 11:29 to go. The extra point was blocked, the first
missed extra point by the Hokies all season.
No problem, though. The Hokie defense, who played stellar all day, held Miami to two first downs the rest of the
way, and the Canes never got past their own 32-yard line in their last three possessions. Miami's final possession ended
on their own 20-yard line with just less than a minute to go, with three straight batted passes, two by Jim Davis on 2nd and 3rd
down, and the final
one by Darryl Tapp on 4th and 2 with 57 seconds to go. Randall kneeled down two straight times to run out the clock, and the celebration
The win was one of the most impressive performances ever from a Hokie defense, as they limited the Miami Hurricanes
to just 7 first downs and 190 total yards. Miami QB Brock Berlin, who had come on strong this season, completed 16 of 31 passes
for just 139 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Frank Gore had just 46 yards rushing on 13 carries for the Canes, and despite
the fear of Miami's big-play offense, the Hurricanes' longest play of the day was just 24 yards. Miami had just
four plays of over
10 yards. VT sacked Berlin 3 times for 21 yards in losses and held the Canes to 1 of 13 on third-down conversions.
The ACC championship and a trip to the Sugar Bowl weren't the only prizes the Hokies snatched from the table. Frank
Beamer surely locked up ACC Coach of the Year with this win, and Randall made a strong case for ACC Player of the Year,
outplaying Berlin in the key matchup of the season. Randall hit 11-of-18 passes for 148 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no
interceptions, running his string to 14 TD passes and just 1 INT during the Hokies' 8-game winning streak. The only
taint on Randall's day were two lost fumbles, one of which led to a Miami field goal.
The Hokies were riddled with injuries coming in, but it didn't matter. Left tackle Jimmy Martin played sparingly
before bowing out of the game, and though his absence was felt in the passing game -- Randall was sacked 5 times for 37
yards -- the Hokies blocked very well at times in the running game. The Hokies had 149 yards rushing on 48 carries,
stats that go to 43 carries for 186 yards (4.3 yards per carry) if you take out the sacks of Randall.
Mike Imoh's hamstring tightened up on him early in the game, limiting him (-4) yards on 3 carries, but into the void stepped Cedric Humes, running 27 times for 110 yards and repeatedly punishing Hurricane tacklers with
his 6-1, 231-pound frame. When the offensive line gave Humes a seam to run through, he bulled into Miami's secondary for
gains of 5 to 10 yards at a time.
Last on the injury front was Josh Hyman, who sprained a knee against Virginia and played in this game, but didn't
catch a pass. David Clowney led with 4 catches for 54 yards, Royal had 2 for 44 yards and a TD, and tight end Jeff King
caught 3 passes for 26 yards, including an amazing 12-yard leaping grab on Tech's next-to-last possession, on a critical
3rd and 10.
Miami threatened on their first two possessions but failed to score. The Canes penetrated to VT's 17 on their first
possession, but a personal foul on Joel Rodriguez backed them up to the 42-yard line, and they had to punt. On their
next drive, they went for it on 4th and 1 from the Hokie 20-yard line, throwing to the end zone, but Eric Green made an
athletic, one-handed grab for his first interception of the year.
That's when the Hokie offense got to work, going 80 yards in 10 plays to turn Green's interception into a 7-0
second-quarter lead. Randall completed all three of his passes for 38 yards on the drive, including a 3rd down TD toss
to Jeff King from the Miami 3-yard line.
A few minutes later, the Hurricanes struck for their only TD of the day. On 4th and 7 from the Hokie 27, Miami's
Anthony Reddick came through untouched and blocked Vinnie Burns' punt. The Canes covered it on the Hokie 15 and scored
in 4 plays on a 2-yard run by Gore, making it 7-7.
The bad news continued on the next Tech possession, when Randall was hit from behind on the Hokie 25-yard line and
fumbled. Miami recovered it on the 18-yard line, but they were thwarted when James Anderson swatted the ball away from a
scrambling Berlin two plays later, and the Hokies' Noland Burchette recovered.
That energized the Hokies, who ate up the rest of the first-half clock with a long drive from their 28-yard line to
Miami's 28. With 4 seconds left, Brandon Pace drilled a 45-yard field goal that would have been good from 55, giving the
Hokies a 10-7 half time lead.
The stout defense continued into the second half. Miami linebacker Roger McIntosh hit Randall from behind on a blitz
to force a fumble on Tech's first second-half possession, and Miami took over on the Tech 30-yard line. The Canes got
down inside the Hokie 10-yard line, but a holding penalty helped push them back, and they settled for a 23-yard field
goal by Jon Peattie that tied it at 10.
Miami would not score again, but the Hokies would. The two teams traded possessions for the rest of the third
quarter, and the field position battle finally turned Tech's way late in the quarter. Facing 1st and 10 from their
16-yard line, the Hokies got an 11-yard run by Humes and a 34-yard tackle-breaking scramble by Randall that moved the
ball inside the Miami 40.
That drive stalled, but Burns' punt was caught by Burchette and downed on the Miami 6-yard line. That was the
field position advantage the Hokies needed. The defense held, forcing a punt from Miami's 10-yard line, and Royal caught
the punt at the Hokies' 42-yard line and made an electric return to the Canes' 39-yard line.
It was the first time all day that VT started on Miami's side of the field, and the Hokies didn't waste time making
it count. On the very next play, Randall executed a play-action fake, took a deep drop, and threw a strike to Royal, who
was streaking across the field just ahead of All-American candidate Antrel Rolle. Royal stretched out, snagged the ball
on his fingertips, and turned it upfield, leaving Rolle in the dust for the go-ahead TD with 11:29 left.
Orien Harris burst up the middle to block the extra point, leaving the score 16-10, but the Hokie defense made sure
that didn't come back to hurt VT. Miami had three more possessions in the game, starting on their 17, 12, and 12 yard
lines, and each time, VT made sure they didn't get past their own 32.
The defense got stronger towards the end as they smelled blood, and the game culminated in three straight Berlin
passes being batted down. With Miami facing 2nd and 2 from their 20 yard line with 1:07 to go. Jim Davis looped around a
blocker and smacked Berlin's arm as he tried to pass. On 3rd and 2, Davis drove through his blocker, fought off the help
block by fullback Quadtrine Hill, and leaped in the air to knock down another pass. On 4th and 2, Darryl Tapp avoided
Hill's cut block and batted down Berlin's last pass.
Randall kneeled down twice to run out the clock, and a celebration that started in Miami and extends up to Blacksburg
and the entire state of Virginia was underway. Given almost no shot of winning the ACC championship, Virginia Tech not
only captured it outright at 7-1, but they did it on the road, against the top team in college football in the last 20
years. No one can doubt what this team has done in turning in one of the greatest VT football seasons ever.
The Virginia Tech athletic department is having welcome back celebration in Cassell Coliseum at 9:15 Saturday night
(doors open at 8:30). Sugar Bowl officials are expected in Blacksburg Sunday to make the official announcement: Virginia
Tech is invited to the Sugar Bowl.
And the ACC champion Virginia Tech Hokies are expected to accept.
here to check out our Sugar Bowl Travel Package, offered by Premiere Sports Travel!