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Recap and More: 'Canes Stumble Against Hokies

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MIAMI (AP)–Virginia Tech had one bad week this season. The Hokies have been perfect in all others.

Their reward is another shot at an Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Ryan Williams ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long 84-yarder with 13:24 remaining, as No. 14 Virginia Tech beat No. 24 Miami 31-17 on Saturday to clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division title. The Hokies (9-2, 7-0) won their ninth straight, the program’s longest streak since 1999, and will get an opportunity to play their way into the Orange Bowl in Miami’s home stadium Jan. 3.

“We’ve been hearing about this all week,” Williams said. “To clinch the division … I mean, it feels great. Words can’t describe it.”

Tyrod Taylor’s 18-yard keeper with 6:25 left sealed it for Virginia Tech, which beat Miami for the 11th time in 16 meetings.

Danny Coale added four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies, who gave up 464 yards but intercepted Miami freshman quarterback Stephen Morris three times in the final 9 minutes.

Lamar Miller rushed for a career-best 163 yards and a touchdown for Miami (7-4, 5-3), which has not won the ACC since joining in 2004.

“We had opportunities and couldn’t capitalize on it,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “So that’s the nut of it. And that’s the way the game went. The guys played hard. They were into it. But like anything, you can’t turn the ball over against Virginia Tech.”

Miami had six turnovers, its most since Nov. 13, 1999–also against Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech opened the season with a loss on Labor Day to Boise State, then got stunned five days later against lower-division James Madison–at home, no less–in a game that seemed to suggest the Hokies weren’t going to be factors in the ACC.

Not quite.

Next week against Virginia, the Hokies will have a chance to be the first team to go unbeaten in the ACC since Florida State in 2000.

“You come back from two, I say devastating, losses within a week … I don’t think you come back from that unless you have really good people on your football team and really good people leading your football team,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “I think that’s very obvious and very evident. They’ve hung in there and kept battling and somehow we found a way to win together.”

For the second straight year, it was Williams doing the damage to Miami.

He ran for 150 yards and two scores last season when Virginia Tech dismantled the Hurricanes 31-7 in Blacksburg, but was kept relatively in check until the fourth quarter Saturday.

Then on his first touch of the final period, Williams went up the middle– and gone.

A one-play drive for 84 yards gave the Hokies the lead for good, and after Jayron Hosley–a South Florida native–intercepted Morris with 9:01 left, the Hokies were in total control. Taylor ensured he would be part of his third win in four tries against Miami 2 1/2 minutes later, then threw up the Hurricanes “U” symbol in celebration.

He got flagged for 15 yards, but it didn’t matter.

“We knew we needed to win one of our last two,” Taylor said. “But like Coach said, `Don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow.’ So we just went out and tried to handle business today, and that’s what we did.”

Morris completed 15 of 33 passes for 202 yards for Miami, and Leonard Hankerson caught six of those throws for 79 yards and his 12th touchdown of the year, breaking Michael Irvin’s single-season record set for the Hurricanes in 1986.

“Right now, it doesn’t mean anything,” Hankerson said. “If it was a `W’ it’d have been different.”

Coale’s 43-yard touchdown catch with 5:32 left in the third–on blown coverage by Miami–gave Virginia Tech a 17-10 lead. The Hurricanes tied it on Miller’s 4-yard run less than 2 minutes later, but it was all Hokies the rest of the way.

“We didn’t make enough plays to come out and finish the game off,” Hankerson said.

Virginia Tech withstood all the big hits Miami had to offer.

Stats | Photos | Videos | Notes | Quotes

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
Miami 7 3 7 14 31
V-Tech 7 3 7 0 17

Team Stat Comparison
  VT UM
1st Downs 19 23
Rushing 1st Downs 11 12
Passing 1st Downs 6 10
Net Yards Rushing 251 262
Rushing Attempts 48 42
Avg Per Rush 5.2 6.2
Rushing TDs 3 1
Net Yards Passing 118 202
Cmp-Att-Int 8-15-0 15-33-3
Avg Per Attempt 7.9 6.1
Avg Per Completition 14.8 13.5
Passing TDs 1 1

Individual Stat Leaders
Passing Leaders
  Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Lng
S. Morris 15-33-3 202 1 43
T. Taylor 7-14-0 94 1 43

Rushing Leaders
Miami No Yds TD Avg
   L. Miller 15 164 1 10.9
   D. Berry 9 47 0 5.2
VT        
   R. Williams 14 155 2 10.1
   D. Evans 14 76 0 5.2

Receiving Leaders
Miami No Yds TD Lng
   L. Hankerson 6 79 1 29
   T. Benjamin 3 64 0 43
VT        
   D. Coale 4 83 1 43
   M. Davis 1 17 0 17

On one first-half series, Hokies receiver Marcus Davis was down for about 4 minutes, shaken up after getting gang-tackled by four converging Miami defenders; Taylor was sidelined for one play after getting drilled by Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy; Coale’s helmet was knocked off as he made a 24-yard catch; and right guard James Brooks had his helmet ripped off two plays later.

Not only did Virginia Tech take all those shots, the Hokies landed the blow that mattered most in that series–Williams’ 14-yard run with 51 seconds left in the first tied the game at 7-7, capping a 12-play, 88-yard drive that began after a fourth-down fumble by Miami.

That was just one of the mistakes that set the tone, and Virginia Tech was all too happy to take advantage.

“It’s heartache,” Shannon said.

Leonard Hankerson Colin McCarthy
Lamar Miller Adewale Ojomo

Tyler Horn

Postgame Notes

HANKERSON JOINS ELITE COMPANY
-Hankerson’s nine-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter was his 12th of the season, a new single-season record. The previous record was held by Michael Irvin (11) in 1986.

– With 79 receiving yards today, Hankerson became just the fourth Miami receiver to record 900 yards in one season, joining Eddie Brown in 1984, Andre Johnson in 2002, and Wesley Carroll in 1990. Only Brown and Johnson have recorded 1,000 yards in a season. Hankerson currently stands at 958 for the year and needs just 42 yards to join that club.

– Hankerson has now scored a touchdown in six straight games and nine of Miami’s 11 games this season.

– With a 20-yard catch in the first quarter, Hankerson has now caught a pass in 24 straight games.

HOT START
Freshman Stephen Morris, making his third career start, completed his first seven pass attempts of the game, on his way to 15 completions and 202 passing yards.

GETTING IN THE BACKFIELD
Entering today’s game, Miami ranked third nationally in tackles for loss per game (8.40). The Hurricanes tallied 11 tackles for loss, led by Sean Spence, and Marcus Forston, who each had 2.5 tackles for loss.

TACKLING MACHINE
Colin McCarthy led the Hurricanes in tackles for the second straight week ,backing up his 15-tackle performance against Georgia Tech with 14 tackles today. Earlier this year, McCarthy set a career-high at Virginia with 18 tackles.

START IT UP
Senior Graig Cooper made his first start of the season at running back today for the Hurricanes, recording 10 yards on six carries. Cooper also had one kick return for 34 yards.

IT’S MILLER TIME
Freshman Lamar Miller set a new career high, and a Hurricanes season high with 163 yards in today’s game on just 15 carries. His 47-yard run in the third quarter was the longest rush of the year for Miami.

As a team, Miami rushed for 262 yards on 42 carries, for 6.2 yards per carry. That yards per carry average ties the season-high set at Virginia on Oct. 30.

I’LL TAKE THAT
Miami came into today’s game tied for sixth nationally in turnovers forced, with 26. The `Canes forced a fumble in the first quarter to make it 27 on the year.

PASS DEFENSE
Miami came into the game allowing 147.9 yards/game through the air. For the seventh time this season, the Hurricanes limited the opposing starting quarterback to less than 150 yards, as Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor threw for just 94 yards, and the team threw for just 118.

MIAMI’S STARTERS
Miami’s offensive starters today were: Stephen Morris (QB), Travis Benjamin (WR), Leonard Hankerson (WR), Aldarius Johnson (WR), Richard Gordon (TE), Orlando Franklin (LT), Harland Gunn (LG), Tyler Horn (C), Brandon Washington (RG), Seantrel Henderson (RT), and Graig Cooper (RB)

Starting for Miami on defense was: Allen Bailey (LDE), Micanor Regis (LT), Marcus Forston (RT), Olivier Vernon (RDE), Sean Spence (WLB), Colin McCarthy (MLB), Ramon Buchanan (SLB), Brandon Harris (CB), Vaughn Telemaque (FS), JoJo Nicolas (SS), Ryan Hill (CB).

MIAMI’S CAPTAINS
Seniors Allen Bailey, Matt Bosher and Leonard Hankerson , and junior Jacory Harris are serving as Miami’s captains today.

Miami Head Coach Randy Shannon

“This was a tough loss tonight to Virginia Tech. They are a team that came out and played hard and well tonight. I thought the key in the game tonight was that we turned the football over in the red zone and they didn’t turn the ball over tonight. When you have those kinds of things happen in the game, bad things are going to happen. We couldn’t capitalize on big plays; they capitalized on big plays. No matter how you call it – it’s not individuals; it’s not this person or that person; it’s basically that when we had chances in the red zone, we had two fumbles.

“We had opportunities on some deep balls thrown. They capitalized on the long run coming out of the third quarter. We had opportunities and could not capitalize. That’s the nut of it, and that’s the way the game went. I thought the guys played hard; they stayed into it. Like anything you can’t turn the ball over against Virginia Tech.

“I thought special teams played equal. So, that just stayed the same. So, the offense and defense had to make some plays to give us the game tonight.”

On Travis Benjamin’s drop…
“That’s what I’m talking about. We had drops in big situation plays that would have changed the game and we didn’t capitalize on it. Not just him; we had some other drops that could have made a difference in the game. They made the plays, and we didn’t. When you watch it, it’s heartache because the guys played hard, but we just couldn’t come up with the plays at the right time and they did.”

On the performance of freshman quarterback Stephen Morris
“Turnovers. He did adequate; not great. He threw some interceptions in the first half. I thought he managed the football game well, but like I said, the two turnovers in that first half really got us behind. Those two turnovers might have put us six points or 14 points ahead where we needed to be going into halftime. But when those things happen, then they set you back. In the second half, we came back and in the fourth quarter; he pressed and threw some interceptions. Those things are going to happen when you start pressing a little bit.”

On Virginia Tech’s big runs…
“That’s what I mean – just breakdowns. They had a big run in the third quarter which they went ahead on, and it was probably the big play of the game. Like I said, they capitalized on some big plays and we didn’t capitalize. I can’t explain it to you guys any other way besides they made the plays and we didn’t.”

On the physical nature of the game and injuries…
“It was a very hard hitting game. Our players played very hard. Both teams played hard and physical. It was one of those games like we play against Virginia Tech all the time; those types of hits and things (injuries) on the field are going to happen. Luckily, everyone got up and walked off the field and there weren’t any serious injuries from either side of the football. That’s always the positive of it, but I thought it was a physical game on both sides of the football the whole night.

On the disappointment of being eliminated from ACC title contention…
“It’s disappointing not to have a chance to win this side of the division, but we still have a lot of little things to look forward to. We have another game next week against the University of South Florida, and it will be senior day. There are a lot of seniors on this team who did a lot to help this program get back to where we are right now. They know we still have a long way to go, but it’s a start for them, and a start for this University to really recognize those seniors. That senior class came in and they played as true freshman. Those same guys are still playing now, which is a tremendous effort from them. They helped to get the recruiting class we have now, and without those guys on this football team, I don’t think we would be where we are at right now.”

 

WR Leonard Hankerson
On the game…
“We have to correct the mistakes and move forward to next week. We knew we had a shot at the ACC championship, but we didn’t do what we had to do.”

On breaking the Miami touchdown record…
“It doesn’t mean anything. If it came with a W it might have been different. But now it doesn’t mean anything.”

On next week’s game against South Florida…
“It’s very important for us as a team and as a senior group to go out and make plays for the program and finish off with a win. You don’t want to finish off your career with a loss in your last home game.”

OL Tyler Horn
On the loss…
“You play in order to go to the championship, but at the end of the day effort is not everything. You have to go out and execute. You have to make plays and not turn the ball over.”

On turnovers…
“It happened, but you don’t want it to. Blame goes to everyone for the turnovers in this game including myself. You have to come back tomorrow.”

On dropped pass…
“Yeah, he dropped it, but we should have driven down anyway and scored. It is what it is. Big plays are a good thing, but you can’t let one play determine everything.”

On losing…
“It’s heartbreaking. We worked hard this week to get ready for this game. We came in with a mindset of out-toughing them and making plays. At the end of the day, they made the big plays and got the turnovers. “

RB Lamar Miller
On coaches message to the team…
“Just to end off on the right note. We have to practice hard this week and get ready for the University of South Florida.”