Va. Tech pours it on No. 2 Miami, 31-7

No. 10 Hokies stop 'Canes' regular-season win streak at 39 with convincing win

November 02, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Redemption could be found all around Lane Stadium last night in 10th-ranked Virginia Tech's shocking 31-7 victory over No. 2 Miami.

It could be found in the defense.

Ten days after being embarrassed by West Virginia, 28-7, in Morgantown, the Hokies intercepted Hurricanes quarterback Brock Berlin twice - returning one for a touchdown - and got a fumble recovery by DeAngelo Hall, which gave Virginia Tech its first score of the game.

It could be found in the offense.

After going seven quarters without scoring, the Hokies (7-1, 3-1 Big East) watched as tailback Kevin Jones scored a touchdown for a 24-0 lead in the third quarter and then saw redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Vick hit Ernest Wilford for a 46-yard touchdown pass. Wilford had dropped a potential game-tying two-point conversion here against Miami two years ago.

It could be found on the sideline.

After failing to win in 19 games against teams ranked eighth or higher during 16 years here as the Hokies' head coach - seven times against the Hurricanes - Frank Beamer finally got to celebrate. The victory ended both a three-year losing streak against Miami and the second-longest regular-season winning streak - 39 games - in Division I-A history.

"From the fans to the players to the coaches, it was a great win for our football program," said Beamer, who awarded a game ball to the fans. "I'm very, very proud of this one. We beat a great football team that is very talented and extremely well-coached. It was just our night."

It was not Miami's. From the wide-open touchdown pass on a fake field-goal attempt that tight end Kevin Everett dropped in the second quarter with the Hokies ahead 7-0, to the slew of penalties that stopped the Hurricanes when the game was still in doubt, the Hurricanes self-destructed.

The loss for Miami (7-1, 3-1) was its first during the regular season since a 34-29 defeat at Washington on Sept. 9, 2000. It also marked the first regular-season defeat for third-year coach Larry Coker, whose only previous loss was to Ohio State, 31-24, in last season's national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl.

After being shut out for the first time in a half since the loss here four years ago, the Hurricanes finally scored with 7:53 left in the game. By then, the crowd of 65,115 was busy chanting, "Overrated" to a team that narrowly averted its first shutout since a 47-0 defeat to Florida State in 1997.

"The toughest part now is having to regroup," said Coker.

While the Hokies likely will not move up enough to contend for this year's national title, they played the role of spoilers well. With Miami set to move down in the Bowl Championship Series standings and both national polls, either Southern California or Florida State should move up behind top-ranked Oklahoma.

Given the change at quarterback, it could also mark the beginning of Vick's career as a starter. While the younger brother of former Hokies star Michael Vick had more than a few shaky moments replacing junior Bryan Randall, his touchdown pass to Jones, and another potential score that Jones had dropped earlier, were hints of the future.

Vick's pass to Wilford was the only pass completed for positive yardage that the Hokies made all night. Between Vick and Randall, Virginia Tech was 2-for-8 passing for 44 yards. Jones made up for that, rushing 26 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Asked about his team's lack of passing, Beamer said, "We only completed two? That's not us, either. As a general rule, we want to throw more than that."

It didn't make a difference because the Hokies' defense was so dominant.

The Hokies forced Berlin into several poor decisions. One was an interception by senior rover Michael Crawford of Baltimore that led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Jones. Berlin was also picked off by cornerback Eric Green, who ran 51 yards untouched for a score. Junior cornerback Vincent Fuller of Baltimore had an interception off backup quarterback Derrick Crudup.

`I think they put excellent pressure on [Berlin], and that was part of it," said Coker. "It wasn't all his fault. They put excellent pressure on him all day."

Said Crawford: "We made them a one-dimensional team by shutting down the run."

Coming off big games against Florida State and Temple, Miami tailback Jarrett Payton was held to 69 yards on 18 carries, none for more than 10 yards. The Hokies also shut down All-American tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who caught eight passes for 48 yards. The Hurricanes gained only 116 yards on the ground.

The defense answered the challenge issued by coordinator Bud Foster after the humiliating defeat to the Mountaineers.

"It showed a lot of character," said Foster. "I'm really proud of our guys. We knew this was going to be a big game. I told them after the West Virginia game that they shouldn't come to practice expecting to win. I told them to come to practice knowing they were going to win."

Hall set the tone by forcing a fumble by Roscoe Parrish and racing 28 yards for Virginia Tech first score. Green's interception return for a touchdown was the 10th by either the Hokies on defense or special teams. Crawford's interception was the first of his Virginia Tech career.

"No matter what happened against West Virginia, we knew we were good to go," said Hall. "We put everything behind us and just focused on Miami."

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