No. 20 Virginia Tech 27, Miami 25
No. 20 Virginia Tech 27, Miami 25
Nov. 09, 1997
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Frank Beamer was raving about his rover.
Pierson Prioleau gave his coach reason to brag Saturday night when the rover back intercepted a 2-point conversion pass with 1:48 remaining to preserve No. 20 Virginia Tech's 27-25 victory over Miami.
``Pierson Prioleau made some really big plays, especially the interception at the end of the 2-point attempt. That was a game-saver,'' Beamer said after the Hokies (7-2 overall, 5-1 Big East) remained alive in a bid for a third straight alliance bowl bid.
``He has a habit of making big plays,'' Beamer added. ``He's a little man (5-foot-10, 186 pounds) with a big heart.''
Miami coach Butch Davis said the real game saver was a referee's call on the ensuing onside kick that kept the Hurricanes from getting another chance.
The ball kicked by Andy Crosland bounced through Marcus Parker's legs and was recovered by Miami, but the referee ruled that a Hurricane touched the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards.
``I clearly felt like the ball touched one of the Tech players and we made the play,'' Davis said.
Virginia Tech can win the Big East title by beating Pittsburgh next week and can go to an alliance game by also defeating Virginia in the final game.
``This was a heck of a football game with a lot of big and exciting plays,'' Beamer said.
Virginia Tech, playing before the third-largest crowd in Blacksburg, 53,177, took its first lead at 17-13 in the third quarter on a 14-yard run by Cullen Hawkins. The Hokies made it 24-13 when Lamont Pegues burst up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown on the last play of the third quarter.
Miami (4-5, 2-3) came back in the fourth quarter on two touchdown runs by James Jackson, who gained 142 yards on only nine carries.
``This is a difficult place to play and we hung in there and fought back,'' Davis said.
Jackson, a second-string tailback, swept down the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown with 10:59 to play, but Ryan Clement's 2-point conversion pass was caught out of bounds.
After Shayne Graham kicked his second 22-yard field goal to put Virginia Tech ahead 27-19, Jackson dashed 12 yards to the end zone with 1:48 left to set that stage for Prioleau's game-saving interception.
Miami scored on its first two possessions and went up 13-3 in the first quarter.
Clement quickly figured out how to pick apart Virginia Tech's secondary, completing nine of his first 10 passes for 163 yards and directing touchdown drives of 65 and 92 yards.
Clement, who was 14-of-23 for 212 yards, scored the first touchdown himself. He rolled to his right on first-and-goal at the 6, found no one open, sprinted up the middle against the grain and dove over the goal line.
Carl Bradley blocked the extra point attempt, and Beamer said that proved to be critical because it led to Miami attempting, and failing, on the 2-pointer at the end.
``Any time you block a kick it will come up big,'' Beamer said.
Al Clark was 10-of-12 for 153 yards and the Hokies also ran for 259 yards.
Clark injured his left knee two weeks ago against West Virginia, sat out the Alabama-Birmingham game and practiced lightly this week.
``I told the coaches I'm going to try my best to rehabilitate my knee because they said we're going to run this thing,'' Clark said.
After a 22-yard field goal by Shayne Graham, Marcus Parker had a 7-yard touchdown run that made the score 13-10 with 12:58 left in the second quarter.
The highlight of the drive was a 46-yard option play in which Clark scurried up field 39 yards before being caught at the Miami 22 and pitching to Ken Oxendine, who picked up another seven yards.
Beamer said Clark ``made some really big plays tonight. He doesn't get rattled in there.''
Miami outgained Virginia Tech 422-412 but lost 111 yards on 13 penalties. Neither team turned the ball over.
This was the closest game in the history of the series. After losing the first 12 games, Virginia Tech has now won three in a row against Miami.