Hokies fumble away chances in loss to Miami
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer tried to focus on the positive, talking about the second-half comeback that could have been had the Hokies not been so consistent about fumbling the ball away.
Defensive end Dadi Nicolas was all about the urgency.
“We’ve got to stick together,” he said after the Hokies’ 30-6 loss to Miami on Thursday night, their second consecutive loss on a Thursday night and fourth in the last five showcase games.
“This is definitely a bad time for us,” Nicolas said. “We’ve just got to stick together as a family and a team and get better.”
He added later: “I don’t think this game broke us as a team.”
Duke Johnson ran for 249 yards and scored two touchdowns and Miami took the ball away on the Hokies’ first three second-half drives. The first came at Miami’s 1, and Beamer said the way his team came out after trailing 24-0 showed that the Hokies have the ability and pride they need to turn things around.
It might also have some new faces trying to make it happen.
Their only points came on backup quarterback Mark Leal’s 14-yard fourth-and-10 touchdown pass to Isaiah Ford with 1:30 remaining. It extended their scoring streak to 251 games, and might have earned Leal a closer look this week, as well as some other players, Beamer said.
“We’re going to look at it,” he said of the quarterback position, where Michael Brewer has started all season. “I think everything is on the table right now. We’re going to look at a lot of things.”
The Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) outgained Virginia Tech 255-36 in the first half in taking the big lead, and finished with a 456-262 advantage overall.
Virginia Tech (4-4, 1-3) drew boos for its continuing offensive struggles before halftime.
Johnson, who missed the Hurricanes’ game against Virginia Tech last season with a broken right ankle, got the ball on Miami’s first seven plays from scrimmage, and he was just warming up.
He gained 15 yards from a “Wildcat” formation on a drive to Michael Badgley’s 28-yard field goal, and had a 29-yard gain on the next drive. He also caught a 15-yard pass on third-and-8 early in the drive to keep it going before Gus Edwards came in and bulled in from 3 yards out, making it 10-0.
An exchange of punts found the Hokies starting at their 1, and after three consecutive incompletions by Michael Brewer, A.J. Hughes’ short punt took a big Miami bounce, setting them up at the Hokies’ 24.
Johnson ran it in on the next play, and capped the following drive with a 22-yard touchdown reception from Brad Kaaya, making it 24-0. He also had runs of 14 and 25 yards on a drive that ended in a punt.
Edwards, who added a 38-yard touchdown run with 4:14 to play, finished with 115 yards on 20 carries. The Hurricanes’ 364 yards on the ground were the most ever against a team coached by Frank Beamer.
The Hokies looked primed to at least make a game of it after halftime as Deon Newsome returned the opening kickoff 58 yards to the Miami 42 and Marshawn Williams’ running got them to the 3. But on second-and-goal, he plowed into the line, Bush stripped the ball and recovered, and a comedy of errors began.
Brewer hit Joel Caleb for 13 yards on Virginia Tech’s next play from scrimmage, and after getting the ball to the Miami 32, Tracy Howard took it away and Jermaine Grace recovered for the Hurricanes.
After another Miami punt, the Hokies drove from their 11 to the Miami 18, but Denzel Perryman knocked the ball away from Jerome Wright on a run to the 13 and Grace again made the recovery for the Canes.
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