Miami Hurricanes run over Virginia Tech Hokies, take control of the ACC Coastal Division
With a victory against Virginia Tech, Miami used strong defense and opportune plays by its special teams and rushing units to take charge of the ACC Coastal Division.
11/02/2012 12:00 AM
09/08/2014 6:08 PM
Two to go.
Hands firmly on the steering wheel.
The University of Miami is still in control of its Atlantic Coast Conference title dream, hurdling Virginia Tech 30-12 on Thursday night at Sun Life Stadium.
The Hurricanes — 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the ACC — are one victory from qualifying for a bowl game and two ACC victories from representing the Coastal Division in what would be their first league title game.
To fulfill their quest, the Canes must defeat Virginia (2-6) in Charlottesville a week from Saturday, then win at Duke (6-3) Nov. 24 in the season finale.
“I know everybody wants us to be national champions yesterday and get back to [Bowl Championship Series] games,’’ UM coach Al Golden said. “But the reality is the pathway to that is the Coastal.
“This game coming up against Virginia is truly critical for us. We’ve got to get focused, get right and get back to work.’’
The ACC Championship is Dec. 1 in Charlotte, N.C.
UM also plays South Florida, a nonconference opponent, in the Hurricanes’ home finale Nov. 17.
The Hokies fell to 4-5 and 2-3, with games left against FSU, Boston College and Virginia. But their own dream of an ACC title game berth is all but shot.
UM sealed the victory with a trick play that yielded a 20-yard pass from receiver Phillip Dorsett to quarterback Stephen Morris — followed by a 7-yard touchdown run by Duke Johnson with 7:38 left.
Jake Wieclaw’s 37-yard field goal, his third of the night, capped the celebration of a sparse crowd (announced at 37,219) that began to exit before the clock hit 0:00.
By the end of three quarters, the Hokies led Miami in time of possession 29:32 to 15:28, but UM’s best defensive performance of the season — not to mention a super effort on special teams — kept the Hurricanes on top.
The Canes had two interceptions, and a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Luther Robinson that stopped the Hokies on the UM 1-yard line.
On special teams, Miami had a blocked punt that led to a touchdown.
Morris completed 13 of 28 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns, with Johnson adding 100 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas completed 19 of 37 passes for 199 yards, with the two picks. He ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
The Hurricanes made the first big defensive play in the opening series, an interception by cornerback Ladarius Gunter on first down from the UM 20. The play kept the Hokies from scoring, but UM went three-and-out.
It didn’t take long for Miami to pounce again. Freshman Gabe Terry blocked an A.J. Hughes punt, fellow freshman Rayshawn Jenkins recovered the ball and the Canes took over on the Virginia Tech 16-yard line. Two plays later, Morris lofted a 16-yard touchdown pass to Allen Hurns in the right corner of the end zone.
Miami led 7-0 with 8:33 left in the first quarter.
Terry’s feat marked the first time UM blocked a punt since 2008 against UCF.
The Hokies, buoyed by Demitri Kowles’ 51-yard kickoff return, drove 44 yards to cut the score to 7-3 after a 22-yard field goal by Cody Journell. The Hurricanes had held the Hokies for two plays from the UM 5-yard line and another from the 7 before Journell’s kick.
UM was immediately causing havoc again, this time by Johnson. The freshman kick returner, praised by coaches for his exceptional vision, dazzled the crowd with an 81-yard dash that had him stop twice to survey the field, then cut around defenders for the last several yards.
“This is the healthiest I’ve been all year,’’ said Johnson, who is recuperating from a sprained ankle and turf toe. “We’re excited just to be in the driver’s seat of the Coastal. But we can’t let up.’’
On second down, Morris hit Mike James for a 16-yard touchdown.
Miami 14, Virginia Tech 3 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The Hokies scored again when UM’s defense parted like an orange sea and Thomas sprinted 73 yards for a touchdown. But Journell missed the extra point, and Tech trailed 14-9 with 10:39 left in the half.
Miami’s Wieclaw kicked field goals of 22 and 31 yards, followed by Journell’s 20-yarder, to end the half with UM up 20-12.
The Hurricanes wore orange jerseys and orange pants Thursday for a nontraditional twist.
“Just walking through the locker room today and seeing the orange on orange, we loved it,’’ Johnson said with his boyish grin. “It gave the team a boost. When you feel good, when you look good, you play good.’’
Added receiver Rashawn Scott, who caught three passes for 50 yards: “We’re young and we’re growing and that makes our confidence even higher. Nothing can really stop us unless we stop ourselves.’’
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