'Canes storm by Tech

No. 3 Hokies fall flat as Miami rules on road

Miami 27 Virginia Tech 7

College football


BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Even before kickoff last night at Lane Stadium, it had been a bad day for Virginia Tech and its hopes for a national championship. One of its nationally ranked victims, Boston College, had lost to North Carolina. Its likely opponent in the ACC championship game, Florida State, had lost at home to North Carolina State.

Things got worse for the third-ranked Hokies last night.

Much worse, especially for junior quarterback Marcus Vick.

Playing before a sellout crowd that quickly went from confident to comatose, Virginia Tech was embarrassed, 27-7, by fifth-ranked Miami. The defeat for the Hokies not only likely ended their chances at a national championship, but solidified a potential Southern California-Texas showdown in the Rose Bowl.

Despite losing leading rusher Tyrone Moss with a sprained knee, speedy receiver and kick returner Devin Hester with a strained hamstring and quarterback Kyle Wright for much of the second quarter, the Hurricanes won because they were efficient on offense and devastating on defense.

"We played with a chip on our shoulder," said Wright. "Anytime you're counted out and somebody says you're not going to to do anything, it picks you up."

Miami forced Vick to fumble four times, three coming in the second half and one that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, while intercepting him twice. Vick finished the game completing just eight of 22 passes for 90 yards, with most of his completions and yardage all but moot.

"He had a lot of people in the backfield with him," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said of Vick. "He didn't get protected. He's such a competitor. He wants everything to go just right. The reason they didn't go right I think we need to figure out the causes. There are some things all of us can learn from."

"I just learned that things are not always going to go your way," Vick said. "It's all about how you bounce back from it. This loss will make everybody on this team better. The last couple of years [in 2002 and 2003] we'd have one loss and we'd end up losing three and four. We want to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Redshirt freshman tailback Charlie Jones, playing for the injured Moss, led the Hurricanes with 97 yards on 24 carries and scored the game's first touchdown. Wright returned to finish 13-for-22 for 146 yards. The Hurricanes, who came into the game leading the nation in total defense, held the Hokies to 167 yards.

The victory put the Hurricanes in control of the ACC's Coastal Division. Miami (7-1, 4-1) needs only to beat Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., as well as Georgia Tech and Virginia at home to secure a spot in the league's first-ever championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 3.

Despite its loss yesterday, the Seminoles clinched the Atlantic Division because of Boston College's defeat. The only hope Virginia Tech (8-1, 5-1) has for a BCS invitation is to get into the ACC title game or get one of the two at-large BCS bids, with one of them all but delivered to Notre Dame.

The loss by the Hokies and No. 7 UCLA's 52-14 defeat at Arizona leaves only top-ranked USC, No. 2 Texas and No. 4 Alabama as the nation's remaining unbeaten teams. It was Virginia Tech's first defeat to Miami since 2002 and only the fourth in the past 11 games against the Hurricanes.

"I think they're a great football team," said Beamer. "I think they were well-prepared, I thought their quarterback played excellent and they did a good job of not turning the ball over. I give them the credit. For whatever the reason, we just weren't quite hitting on all cylinders."

Leading 10-0 at halftime, the Hurricanes added to their lead by going on a 12-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Jon Peattie. The Hokies briefly came to life on their first possession, with Vick completing a couple of passes and getting into Miami territory.

But on third-and-seven from the 43, Vick fumbled for the second time and the Hurricanes recovered at the 44. Wright, who had been knocked out of the game for much of the second quarter, immediately hit wideout Ryan Moore for a 20-yard gain.

The Hurricanes weren't done.

Jones, showing typical Miami depth at tailback, tore off runs of 6 and 7 yards. Wright followed with a 9-yard pass to Quadtrine Hill. Moss ran for another first down to the Tech 9, and on third-and-goal, Wright hit wideout Darnell Jenkins for what was called a touchdown despite what looked like a momentary bobble.

Hokies fans booed when the replay was shown on the stadium's video screen, and reviewed by the replay official in the booth, who ruled it a touchdown. Another replay showed that Jenkins' left arm was still under the ball as he hit the grass in the near corner of the end zone.

The 20-0 lead stunned the crowd, and seemed to take any remaining steam out of the Hokies. On the ensuing possession, Vick was sacked deep in his own territory and stripped of the ball by defensive end Kareem Jones. The ball squirted into the end zone, and Jones pounced on it.

Only a seven-play, 47-yard yard drive that included four completions by Vick and ended with him scrambling for a 2-yard touchdown with 8:06 left prevented the Hokies from being shut out for the first time in a decade. That 16-0 defeat to Cincinnati was followed by a 13-7 win here over Miami, Virginia Tech's first-ever win over the Hurricanes.

There was not much of a 10th anniversary celebration last night.


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